Institute of Art Design + Technology
Dún Laoghaire
On Show 2020
Niall Delahan

This study aimed to assess the adaptability of audio and music within three-dimensional sound scenes to aid in meditation practice. The analysis was investigated by first producing a test piece of audio that used musical instruments, music compositional techniques, and audio techniques that have shown to have effects on human mental states. With the piece of audio produced on an 18 speaker multichannel system and rendered to a binaural virtual three-dimensional sound scene for headphones, it was possible to run a test session where participants gave feedback through questionnaires before and after the listening experience. An email campaign was used to source practising meditation instructors for the aim of getting feedback from experienced professionals. Additional participants for the tests were sought by a public event advertisement, aiming at sourcing non-instructors with varying levels of experience from no experience, to some experience, to meditating often.

The sample consisted of 33 participants, including 22 females, ten males, and one not specified. The participants were subjected to the produced audio via headphones, and their mood change was assessed by a Profile of Mood States, pre and post-listening. Their subjective reactions were also recorded using self-measuring techniques, including Likert scale questions and open-ended questions to anlyse for outliers. The study results showed that meditating using immersive audio relieved negative and boosted positive emotions. Responses also showed that meditating using this system has advantages over meditating in the natural world. As such, the study concluded that three-dimensional musical audio scenes could improve results for meditation sessions.