This article explores creating virtual environments for spatial audio experience. We will discover sound design for immersive environments that needs exceptional monitoring, let us have a look at what the facts are.
The reality of spatial audio
Spatial Audio is any audio which gives you a sense of space beyond traditional stereo. Immersive audio, 3D audio, surround sound, binaural sound, Auro-3D, Dolby Atmos, object-based audio, 360-sound, and spatial audio are examples of ‘sound beyond stereo’.
Spatial audio is broader, creating sound in 360 degrees (3D) around the listener. It is a way of sound can come from any place in a field. It also describes a range of sound playback technologies that make it possible to sense the sound is coming from all around the user without any specific multiple speaker setups.
Stereo allows the user to hear things in front, left and right, but it cannot get a sense of a surround sound or sounds from below. Spatial sound is allowing to locate where a sound is coming from, whether above, below or a full 360 degrees around the user. It seems entirely possible to create a full 3D experience by using only headphones. Put your headphones on and hear BBC as they launched this immersive spatial audio effects in their productions.
“Conventional stereo and surround sound formats are fixed
speaker setups. These formats only provide spaces into that ideal experience. Whereas spatial audio allows listeners to step out of a windowed perspective as we hear in real life.”
Listening to spatial audio can be made in many ways:
- Multiple speakers, can be surround sound system, theatre sound systems or individual speakers
- Soundbars or stereo speakers using crosstalk cancellation
- Headphones using static binaural mixes
- Headphones using a combination of head tracking and head-locked audio
Surround sound can be experience with the use of multiple external speakers, as spatial audio can be experience through headphones.
Recording and mixing spatial audio
Recordings made with a dummy head where two microphones placed in its ears. This provides a field of influence of sound centered around the listener.
There are three types of audio formats we need to consider when it comes to recording and mixing spatial audio:
1. Channel based through loudspeaker or fixed audio mix.
2. Object-based formats where the location of a sound fixed into the position of the thing that produces the sound such as a car passing by in a movie.
3. Ambisonic a full 360-degree sphere and can be captured from a single point through ambisonic microphones. This sometimes referred to as Soundfield microphones provide a reasonable and efficient alternative to capturing surround sounds.
Whether you call it immersive, 3D, surround, binaural, or spatial audio, these tools are the greatest thing to consider. There is still lot to explore!