Our ears have a unique ability to determine where a sound is coming from, even in noisy environments. Called directional hearing, or spatial hearing, this is something we use all the time, automatically, probably without even noticing. 

By helping us to estimate both the direction and distance of the sound source, directional hearing works in everyday situations, like when someone calls your name from behind you, and you instinctively turn around. 

When this special hearing ability really comes into play, is within challenging acoustic environments where you’ll find multiple competing signals. By making use of a system that is constantly comparing the intensity and timing of sounds hitting both ears, directional hearing can help us to perceive and interpret sounds, such as speech, correctly, even in the presence of noise. This can be evidenced in environments such as a full arena or a noisy game environment.

Thanks to extensive research, we know that directional hearing is paramount in the gaming performance of esports players. By being able to more accurately recognise speech, it allows esports players to intuitively direct their attention to a location in space and separate a target from competing sounds based on spatial hearing cues.

As explained in the infographic, there are two factors at play in directional hearing.