Humans have spent many years finding ways to enhance our hearing. Usually the goal is to find a way to improve our hearing. Starting back in the late 18th century, people who were hearing impaired used ‘ear trumpets’ to make it easier to hear. As you can see in the pictures, the design changed, but the goal was the same – to artificially increase the ability of the ear to ‘capture’ sound.


Man uses an ear trumpet

eartrumpet3It is also important to be able to hear sounds that are far away, in order to have advanced warning of approaching danger. During WWI, people invented a range of ‘listening horns’, in order to hear approaching planes, which were new weapons in a new century. (You can see various examples here.)

listening horns

Today, we have binaudios. Binaudios is a device that helps you ‘listen’ to the sounds of a specific location.  In this particular case, the binaudios is set up at Sage Gateshead in Newcastle, England.

bin audios

As you can see from the picture, binaudios look like very big horns. But they are much more advanced than the old ear trumpets, or the old listening horns. As co-creator Dominic Wilcox notes,

Binaudios use a hidden computing unit (a Raspberry Pi) and rotating ‘listening cones’ to convert orientation into a soundscape, revealing the location’s distinct sounds. The sounds were pre-recorded or found historical sounds from the area, each coded to activate when the Binaudios pointed to the source. (

You can read more about this creation at Wilcox’s site. And you can even hear how they sound when in use. And you can watch a great video about them!

So next time you are in Newcastle (perhaps delivering coal?), go to Sage Gateshead and try the binaudios. And then let us know what happened.

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1 Response to Binaudios

  1. Florence Treadwell says:

    “Captivating” (pun intended) as all your posts which I faithfully follow and always “vibrate” with, but no rant in this one… I like it when you denounce the sonorous aggressions of our civilization: I always experience them the way you do. It’s a great comfort to have a noise curmudgeon to rely on for one’s (futile) indignations!

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