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Discovering 3-D Sound; Jenn Grant, In Studio

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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Jenn Grant performs in the Soundcheck studio. Jenn Grant performs in the Soundcheck studio. (Michael Katzif / WNYC)

In this episode: New Yorker writer Adam Gopnik talks about his quest to experience and learn more about 3-D sound. As he explains, three dimensional sound is different than surround sound: "The sound would seem to be in the room with you -- to your right, to your left, behind you, in front of you." We learn about what exactly it is, how it's created -- and, we even take a listen. 

Canadian singer and guitarist Jenn Grant was nominated for a Juno Award in 2011 -- now, she’s hoping to make a mark for herself here in the States. Her latest album is called The Beautiful Wild, and she plays some of it for us live. 

And, our friends at NPR share a recent “Tiny Desk” concert from the back porch string band Black Prairie.

Exploring 3-D Sound with Adam Gopnik

In his latest story for the New Yorker, staff writer Adam Gopnik explores the science behind the human experience of music. It all started when Gopnik realized a profound difference in the way he and his teenage children listen to music. While Gopnik and his peers grew up solemnly listening to long-form LPs on superb stereo systems, his kids "snatch at" smaller bits of music via earbuds and laptops. As he told Soundcheck's John Schaefer: "I would say, 'I can't listen to this on that lousy speaker on your computer!'"

A desire to understand this generational gap led Gopnik on a journey that spans rocket science, psychology and sociology, which he documents in his New Yorker piece, "Music To Your Ears: The Quest For 3-D Recording and Other Mysteries of Sound."

Gopnik describes visiting the lab of Edgar Choueiri, a rocket scientist determined to create a method of listening to sound in three dimensions. Choueiri allowed Gopnik to test out his “magic box” with a song of Gopnik’s choice: the Rolling Stones’ “Beast of Burden.” The experience, says Gopnik, was thrilling.

“[He] plugged it in,” he recounts, “And suddenly, there it was, Keith Richards is stabbing away with a cigar in his mouth you could practically hear on my right, and Ronnie Wood was plucking away in that kind of syncopated way he does…. Mick Jagger was somewhere right in front of me, and Charlie Watts passively was keeping time right behind my head. I had been inserted into the center of the Stones. It was a startling, uncanny experience.” 

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Canadian singer-songwriter Jenn Grant and her band play songs from their new album, 'The Beautiful Wild.'

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