Old 02-23-2016, 10:04 PM   #1
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Default 3D sound is here

OSSIC (formerly Sonic VR) has designed prototypes of headphones that do automatic HRTF calculation and headtracking.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects...s-calibrated-t

http://evonexus.org/evonexus-companies/ossic/

They needed 100.000 $ in 60 days. The kickstarter is 3 days old and they have reached 350.000 already. Apparently a lot of people believe in this.

Is 2016 the year of Ambisonics and 3D sound?
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Old 02-24-2016, 01:24 AM   #2
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Never even knew it existed.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/3D_audio_effect
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Old 02-24-2016, 01:26 AM   #3
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So to experience the headphones correctly you would have to listen to something that has been recorded in a special 3 d way?
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Old 02-24-2016, 02:06 AM   #4
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I don't think you the recording stage would matter as such. What's more likely is that they binaurally convolve each channel using the HRTF depending on what direction they want the channel coming from.

I have just been involved in research relating to this, really interesting stuff. The difficulty comes when trying to localise a sound coming from the so-called 'sphere of uncertainty,' This is basically the area where time or level difference plays little part in localisation, instead your pinna provides the cues (which is individual for different people). The second complication is trying to get listeners to perceive sounds coming from above and below (difficult when you don't have any true sources on the median plane).
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Old 02-24-2016, 07:39 AM   #5
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So to experience the headphones correctly you would have to listen to something that has been recorded in a special 3 d way?
Yes/No.

An existing stereo recording still benefits from the acoustic matching and position sensor system. Sound would be better because it is matched to your ears and moving your head would change the soundstage, as if you were listening to speakers.

But for a real 3D experience, the sound needs to be recorded with a 4 channel mic, like the Soundfield or EigenMike. Some development tools for game audio, like Fmod Studio can already use this. Reaper can too, with the Ambisonic toolkit.

It's all a bit complicated at first, and until recently, it was also a bit theoretical too, as nobody would have 16 speakers in their living room. With headphones with position feedback, this could become a reality on the enduser's side.

Binaural has been around for 50 years, but it's only for listening through headphones, so it hasn't seen much adoption by the consumer. There's an impressive Youtube demo, called virtual haircut, that shows the possibilities of binaural.

This system is built with all the tricks that have existed for years, but everything is in the headphone. Before you needed a number of speakers, a special decoder, a multi channel amp...
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Old 02-24-2016, 07:46 AM   #6
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The difficulty comes when trying to localise a sound coming from the so-called 'sphere of uncertainty,' This is basically the area where time or level difference plays little part in localisation, instead your pinna provides the cues (which is individual for different people).
That's why you need speakers in a room to really enjoy surround sound albums (eg. 5.1 mixes, 4.0 mixes, etc). Ambisonic tricks for headphones can work for straightforward movie surround soundtrack stuff or computer games. Not so much for dense 5.1 music mixes.

I did some experimentation a while back too. Thinking that at least you should be able to get a good enough response from ambisonic tricks so the listener without a 5.1 sound system would at least be able to get a "preview" of the surround mix with headphones. Nope. Flat out no.

You really do need to move your head around some and interact when listening to surround sound. So... it sounds like they are going directly after the stumbling block for faking a surround mix into stereo headphones. Cool! (But you should still put speakers in a room for serious surround music listening. It's also nice to have around to watch the occasional movie with a surround program.)

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So to experience the headphones correctly you would have to listen to something that has been recorded in a special 3 d way?
You'd need the surround mix. (Someone has to have made one and released it of course.) We've had albums mixed in surround for a long time now. Modern 5.1 mixes are found on DVDA, blu-ray, or digital FLAC file download. Not everything is mixed in surround, so not everything is available. It's not an effect that's applied to a stereo mix, it's literally a unique mix just like stereo mixes vs. mono mixes back in the day were separate mixes.

Not so much "recorded" in any special way, but mixed to 5.1 (or 4.0 or whatever you prefer). Now you might want to capture more elements when you record since there's more room to mix stuff. And maybe capture some 3D elements. Mostly mixing though.

Last edited by serr; 02-24-2016 at 07:54 AM.
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Old 02-24-2016, 08:27 AM   #7
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I used to be convinced Ambisonics were just a trick. It isn't. It's science.

Up until now, Ambisonics was used mostly in experimentation in acoustic labs at universities and for art exhibitions (soundscapes). The math behind it is pretty solid. The problem was in speaker placement.

For the consumer, Ambisonics didn't even exist. You can not create an Ambisonic field "in the mix". There simply is no way to do that, afaik, because nobody has developed the software. And I don't think developing this in software will be easy. I even consider it to be impossible.

A real Ambisonic field is recorded with a tetrahedral mic, like the ones from Soundfield, EigenMike and a couple of others. It requires only 4 channels and a precise (fixed) positioning of the 4 mics. From the resulting 4-channel recording, you can calculate a stereo output, a 5.1 surround output or any other sound field. So, the recording side is fairly simple.

Ambisonic reproduction setups require at least 4 speakers. Center and sub channels are irrelevant and not used. Some setups use 4 speakers and are 2D. If you want to reproduce 3D sound, you need more speakers. With only 4 speakers, you have only one "plane", a horizontal one. If you add another 4, or more, you'll have 3D sound. And all these different setups can be calculated from the 4 channel recording. Setup carefully (requires a lot of time, matched speakers and a lot of measurements), true 3D sound can be done. Obviously, not in your living room yet. That's for the freaks.

That's why these headphones could be a way to get consumers interested. Obviously, I haven't heard these. I'm only hoping this could be the breakthrough to a new level of sound experience.

Will this be important for music?

I have no clue. It's evident that the first fields of application will be cinema and gaming. I hear people from THX labs are enthusiast. But I'm most surprised about the level of enthusiasm from the backers of this kickstart.
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Old 02-24-2016, 09:06 AM   #8
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I used to be convinced Ambisonics were just a trick. It isn't. It's science.
Sorry, poor choice of words.

No debate there! The 'sphere of uncertainty' is very real too and the reason you get very poor results with dense music surround mixes at present when trying to convert/encode them into 2 channels for headphones.

As for the mixes themselves...

There are stereo 'field recordings' made with attention to exact 3D reproductions. Turns out that unless you have a high end reference system in a very well tuned room, that starts to fall apart.

Some stereo music mixes may have some elements like that in the mix but there's also a lot of "old school" elements that come across well on lesser systems. (eg. Mixing a kick drum in mono to take advantage of coupling two speakers to reproduce that mix element as opposed to "placing the kick drum precisely 4.5' in front of you and 1.5' to the left" or some such.)

Same deal with surround mixes.

You can have elements of 3D perceptual imaging for certain mix elements but combined with some 'old school' mix techniques so it works well on many systems.

I imagine one day when you would just install speaker arrays in every room of a house. Something Star Trek like built into the walls and audiophile perfect. Wall coverings making the room acoustics perfect...

Then you could listen to your "modern" ambisonic music releases as well as your "old" 5.1 albums and everything would simply work astonishingly well.

But today...
Set up a 5.1 speaker system properly in your room. There are lots of really good surround mixes available out there. And we need more 5.1 mixes folks! Every album released should also be mixed and released in 5.1 surround.

If they get the motion sensing working for their headphone technique (that's what I meant earlier "technique" ) it would be a cool way to introduce more people to surround sound mixes and offer a portable option.

I'd go so far as to include an "ambisonic encoded mix for stereo headphones" of the 5.1 mix as one of the 'portable quality' versions of the album release if this became viable.

Right now you just get mush if you try to do that with currently available ambisonic techniques. More enjoyable to just listen to the stereo mix if you don't have a surround system.

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Old 02-24-2016, 10:05 AM   #9
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Surround isn't Ambisonics, Serr.

Surround is created in the mix, mostly.

Even if they use a soundfield mic sometimes, they still mix in other stuff, from mono or stereo sources. That can work for surround, if done carefully. But there are some uncertainties involved. Like "where should the actor's voices go?". It's very simple for a documentary. The narrator's voice is mono and goes to the center, and, maybe, attenuated to the front speakers. An interview, with the interviewer to the right and the interviewee to the left, should be slightly panned accordingly. But what with actors who move around, or off screen? Only a few movie productions have tried to pan actor's voices in the 2D space. The vast majority make it simple mono, through the center channel, or narrow stereo. And the results are not always easy to reproduce nicely, even in a movie theatre with THX calibration.

Because of all this, the soundfield is lost. You can no longer apply the math to calibrate the speakers. It' all guess work. That's why the effect is often lost in the living room and even in the carefully setup home theatre.

True ambisonic recording starts and ends with the soundfield mic. Easy for "natural" sounds. Doable for classical music. Not so easy when recording a band, as you will be recording the PA, maybe some monitoring and a lot of unnatural room reflections. There's no soundfield in it. Nothing to be "extracted" later. You could compare it to M/S recording. That needs to be set up carefully too.

I've been experimenting with it. It's awfully hard to create a surround mix with natural sounding music from a multitrack recording. And afaik it's impossible to create a real soundfield, which is needed for ambisonics.

So I took down the 7.1 setup I was slowly building as it's useless for ambisonics and went back to a 4 speaker 2D setup. At the moment, I'm trying to figure out what is the best way to go 3D and how many speakers are really needed.

I'm a big movie fan and have quite a collection of DVD's. Some of them have nice surround sound. Some recent productions have quite messy surround sound.

But I've also been collecting 5.1 music mixes, mostly from the net. Just for test purposes really. And these are mostly awful. I don't like them at all, as they seem to be based off the original multitracks, mixed to 5.1 in a hurry in some cases. Sometimes, they're even just a surround effect added to the stereo master.

Could be me, could be my setup. But my setup seems to work for most movies. I would welcome what others have experienced, but I'm afraid not too many people listen on a 5.1 capable system and even less are really interested.

That's why ambisonics seem like a welcome addition to the array of recording tools. On the enduser's side, setup can be done (in the future) by the reproduction system. And it works on headphones, while surround really doesn't work on these. But even on the recordist's side, it's quite simple.

I'm planning to build my own tetrahedral mic. I've experimented with 4 Behringer B5's in a tetra setup a bit, but reached the conclusion I really need 4 good preamps. My FF400 only has two and the 4 channel Tascam i have doesn't cut it. So I'm awaiting the delivery of an extra pair of preamps (Core Sound Mic2496) to see if that'll work. If not, I'll continue the search for an RME QuadMic...

All of this experimentation isn't professional, of course. It's just playing around, trying to grok the system. And the system holds a lot of promises for me.
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Old 02-24-2016, 10:42 AM   #10
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Quote:
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Surround isn't Ambisonics, Serr.

Surround is created in the mix, mostly.
That was my point.

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But I've also been collecting 5.1 music mixes, mostly from the net. Just for test purposes really. And these are mostly awful. I don't like them at all, as they seem to be based off the original multitracks, mixed to 5.1 in a hurry in some cases. Sometimes, they're even just a surround effect added to the stereo master.
I agree that there are terrible surround mixes out there too! Lots of surround mixes that sound like they were knocked out by a (not very good) intern just to fill the format. Unlistenable garbage and incredibly insulting to the originals. There are shitty stereo mixes too...

There are quite a lot of amazing surround mixes though! Don't dismiss surround music because of some examples of poor work.

(Same thing happened in the early days of stereo. There were "rechanneled" mono recordings that were made to sound just bad. And the same thing with the bad amateur stereo remixes for some albums.)

I'm the opposite I guess. I rarely listen to the surround track for a movie (and rarely watch movies at that). Surround sound is for music.


I'll say it again. We need more surround mixes! Even the score against some of those amateur hour releases we hate. Anyone can release just a stereo CD...


Looks like they will connect with USB and work with standard 5.1 surround files. So no proprietary release formats needed. Plug in the phones and hit play on a standard 5.1 FLAC file in your favorite media player.

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Old 02-27-2016, 08:32 AM   #11
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3d sound has to be the future? mono,stereo, surround, 3D.
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Old 02-27-2016, 08:43 AM   #12
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I don't know, but Google has a project for 3D sound on Youtube:

https://github.com/google/spatial-me...l-audio-rfc.md

They call it "spatial media". Yet another name...
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Old 02-27-2016, 08:49 AM   #13
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Well I just listened to the above video on my Samson headphones.good stuff for dramas and plays where sound sources are on the move.
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Old 02-27-2016, 08:57 AM   #14
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So can you produce a binural recording with two normal mics?
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Old 02-27-2016, 10:43 AM   #15
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This is the kind of stuff that presses all my buttons in a good way! These headphones look very interesting. Cool stuff Cyrano.

Considering the topic of Ambisonics has arisen here, I've only recently discovered Ambisonics and once I have my studio set up again (I've just moved house), I'm planning to start writing and recording a new Krautrock style album and record and mix it using Ambisonics techniques.

In the meantime, for those interested in surround mixes, I have a couple of discreet 5.1 mixes from my previous album available for free. There's Dolby Digital 5.1 and FLAC 5.1 versions available from my synth site here....

www.multichannel.audio

Feedback on the mixes and tunes welcome.
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Old 02-28-2016, 12:04 PM   #16
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I agree that there are terrible surround mixes out there too! Lots of surround mixes that sound like they were knocked out by a (not very good) intern just to fill the format. Unlistenable garbage and incredibly insulting to the originals. There are shitty stereo mixes too...

There are quite a lot of amazing surround mixes though! Don't dismiss surround music because of some examples of poor work.....

...I'll say it again. We need more surround mixes! ....
Hear Hear!! (pun intended)

I'm planning on making extensive use of Ambisonics for most of my upcoming releases. In fact, I'll probably primarily mix in Ambisonic format and derive other mixes (5.1, stereo, etc) from that.

I just registered a new domain name to go along with this goal. It currently points to the same page I mentioned in my post above this one but I will probably create a dedicated section of my synth site for it once I produce some material in Ambisonic format and get it out there.

The new domain is AmbisonicMusic.com
I couldn't resist grabbing that when I discovered it was still available!!
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Old 02-28-2016, 04:05 PM   #17
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The new domain is AmbisonicMusic.com
I couldn't resist grabbing that when I discovered it was still available!!
wow.. nice catch!
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Old 02-29-2016, 12:25 PM   #18
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wow.. nice catch!
Yeah. Decent dot coms are getting difficult to find. I was pretty surprised nobody had grabbed that one. They have now though!
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