Favourite spatial audio software, edition 2020

It’s been a while since last post. I have given an workshop on latest AES convention, which was held online (thus it was named Virtual Vienna). Shame I couldn’t visit Vienna and meet all of the AES folk. Maybe next time! For those who participated the convention – you can still watch my workshop online on the on demand site until the end of June.

Idea for listing my favourite tools was with me for a long time. I think this is a good moment to do it. These are my top tools at this very moment, this might change since the spatial audio is now on the fast lane and new hardware and software is showing up every second.

Wwise

Audiokinetic Wwise is not recognised so much as an spatial audio software. Game engine audio middleware is for sure now one of the most used spatial audio tools, in most cases as the part of game titles. But you can use it in many ways. What you can have using it:

  • supports up to 5th order ambisonics decoding and encoding. What you can achieve is eg. generating 5th order recording from object sources positioned and manipulated in game engine.
  • auralisation based on raytracing using geometry and acoustic materials – and you can encode it in ambisonics!
  • works in multiple OS – I have succeed decoding 4th order ambisonics on android based Oculus Quest, this was not possible using previous methods such as eg. Audio360 SDK from Facebook.
  • convolve signal with HOA IRs (up to 3th order)
  • decode binaural using Google Resonance or Auro Headphone
  • decode to multiple speaker systems, including Atmos and Auro

If you are looking for decent rendering, panning, auralisation and more you should have a look at Wwise.

website: https://audiokinetic.com

Dear Reality Spatial Connect + DearVR Pro

This duo is something that is going to grow in the nearest future. If you are working with cinematic VR this one is a game changer. You can sit in VR and work with 3D panning as smoothly as it can get. When using DearVR Ambi Micro you can have your whole project headtracked even, if not all the tracks are spatialised with DearVR Pro plugin.

With help of Virtual Desktop you can use it wirelessly on Oculus Quest. Nice addon is that you can have your DAW on mac and VR video on PC. Spatial Connect Adapter helps enables you to connect over IP with desired workstation.

It works up to 3rd order, and offers number of output formats, speaker systems and binaural with choice of HRTFs.

The downsides are that DearVR is a closed system, so you cannot use headtracking data for other plugins. Also, the video timecode works correctly only with 30 fps videos which is not always the case.

website: https://www.dearvr.com

Sound Particles

If you are looking for software that can generate dynamic movement of multiple sound sources Sound Particles is the ultimate tool for this task.

You can define paths and generation points with simple equations. Whats most interesting is that you can render these “scenes” to almost every known microphone configuration (of course these are virtual microphones).

website: http://soundparticles.com

SSA Plugins

This is a great set of ambisonic tools created by Peter Stitt. The set of tool from standard, like panner, to more sophisticated ones, like equalizer, deesser or compressor. They come in a bundle for FOA, TOA and even 7OA.

This is one of the most advanced plugin packages for ambisonics. If you are looking for convenient way for working with soundfield, this set might find your needs.

AFAIK Peter is working on even more advanced tools, which I had occasion to test, but I don’t know if I am allowed to elaborate more on this. I reccomend you to have a look at his website from time to time.

website: http://www.ssa-plugins.com/

IEM Plugins

As it is stated on their website: IEM Plug-in Suite is a free and Open-Source audio plugin suite including Ambisonic plug-ins up to 7th order created by staff and students of the Institute of Electronic Music and Acoustics.

Most comprehensive set of tools available for free. Period.

website: https://plugins.iem.at/

SPARTA Plugins

Runner up for the most comprehensive set of tools available for free.!

website: http://research.spa.aalto.fi/projects/sparta_vsts/

Blue Ripple

Richard Furse is a known name in spatial audio world. His tools cover every aspect of spatial audio, from siple decodeing and encoding up to sophisticated playback systems for gaming engines. It is recommended to start with O3A Core free set of plugins.

website: https://www.blueripplesound.com

Unreal Engine 4.25

Unreal Engine supports now native FOA and I think that this is going to get better in nearest future as UE5 is upcoming. Audio team of UE now is focusing more on spatial audio. My vision is that game engines will become basic tools for working with audio and video. You can design your own set of needed tools there. I can say that my favourite DAW now is UE4 😉

website: https://www.unrealengine.com

2 Replies to “Favourite spatial audio software, edition 2020”

  1. Love your list Przemek and the fact you listed UE 2.25 as one of your top selections. I couldn’t agree more, but I am wondering if you have tried to export AmbiX or multi-channel audio to use in 360 video export? As you are probably well aware of, all the work can be done in UE for realtime 2D and VR experiences, but sadly UE’s Sequencer only outputs a dual channel stereo at 48Kbps, 16bit export from its Main Mixer output and is still considered experimental. What is cool about this output is that it appears to represent what would be heard if you were wearing a headset at that location without moving your head, meaning any occlusion, reflections, attenuation and spatial cues are captured as well. The problem is this is locked providing no 3DOF capability that is afforded with Ambisonic and binauralization. And sadly one has to recreate this in a DAW using one of the tools you mentioned or NLE that allow for Ambisonic integration or hybrid of the two using a A/V multiplexer from same audio files and replications of audio processes used in Unreal, duplicating the process.

    With the problem identified of no Ambisoinic export or separate audio channels, I have created three ‘stereo’ exports passes with the camera/listener rotation changed to capture left, right, forward, back, up, down channels in three iterations, which can probably be reduced to just one iteration and capturing these channels output through multiple channels and captured outside UE in a DAW or similar multi channel capture tool, but I have not seen anything to do this, or anyone working on a plugin for this (yet).

    For now I am going to take my three stereo WAV files and run them through a AmbiX 1st order matrix and bring them into the Adobe Premiere to see how well this process works, but I am hoping to come up with a plug-in solution to make this process less laborious. Of course, I might be just ignorant and a solution may already be available. If so, please let me where I could find it.

    Thanks,

    Mike
    Owl Creek Technologies

    1. Hi Mike,

      your workflow is very interesting, and please share your further results. I hope that UE5 will have support for different channel layouts as this became very needed feature. It might be a selling point for audio engine in this new iteration of UE.

      You were asking if it was possible to export multichannel and this is of course possible up to 7.1 but AFAIK ambisonic are still not an option as an output.

      best,
      PD

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