Ambisonics surround sound effects Asbjoern Andersen


Ambisonics is a method of recording and reproducing audio in full 360 degree surround – and while it’s not exactly a new invention, recent developments in software encoding have made it a lot more interesting.

And with demand for surround source material skyrocketing with the advent of 3D audio for film and immersive platforms such as virtual reality, Ambisonics is an increasingly useful option.

But how does Ambisonics work in the real world, how do you get started – and how do you make the most it? Experienced Ambisonics recordist and sound designer John Leonard gives you the details in this special hands-on A Sound Effect primer:

The current state of surround sound recording

Before we dive into the world of Ambisonics, let’s look at the current state of the art in recording in surround. It’s pretty easy, but not inexpensive, to make high-quality surround recordings these days, not only with the various discrete array mounts available from a number of microphone manufacturers, but also with all-in-one 5.1 and 7.1 microphones being offered, such as the DPA5100 surround microphone, affectionately known as The Bicycle Seat, and the various offerings from Holophone Microphone Systems.

Both these systems use discrete miniature electret microphone capsules in a special enclosure, with each microphone feeding a separate channel of a multi-track recorder although the smaller Holophone systems can also generate Dolby-encoded surround from a two-channel output, making them useful for DSLR on-camera use.

Aside from its discrete arrays, Schoeps offers a different approach, with a microphone/software system that they call Double Mid/Side, (DMS) where a rear-facing cardioid is added to a standard mid-side pair and the resulting three channels are trans-coded in software to provide a 5.0 surround output. Details here.

Sennheiser has its Esfera system, which uses a two-channel microphone array and separate hardware to generate 5.1 outputs by means of some very clever processing, but at a fairly hefty price tag of around US$12,000 for the complete system. All of these have their advantages, but they all produce horizontal only recordings and, in the case of the DPA 5100 and the Holophone H2-Pro 7.1, require six and eight tracks respectively to record the microphone outputs.

Latest Ambisonic SFX libraries:

The selection of ambisonic sound effects libraries is constantly growing – here are the latest arrivals:

  • Nature & Countryside Cicadas Play Track 140+ sounds included, 300 mins total $80

    Cicadas is a collection of summer ambiences recorded in Southern Spain over the course of 2018 summer. You will get massive chorus in different densities and areas, individual chirps, and a designed section.

    The temperatures during this time of the year are so high, ranging from 30ºC to 45ºC (86ºF to 113ºF), that cicadas are always present in daytime. The higher the temperatures, the more cicadas chirp. Having this in mind, some recordings from early June have less cicadas than the ones recorded in July and August. In addition to this, there are recordings both in the morning, where the cicadas are not so many but are already present, and in the evening, chirping all of them as a chorus after a whole day under the sun. The library contains:

    • Cicadas in the countryside, recorded in different months and times of the day. Some recordings only contains cicadas and some others also include birds, dogs barking, flies buzzing and rooster calls (26 audio files).
    • Close ups of single cicadas, to build your own atmosphere or design insects, creatures and other specimens (17 audio files).
    • Cicadas in urban environments, such as parks (16 audio files) and residential areas (8 files).
    • Ambisonics recordings, also decoded into binaural by using Harpex-X (20 files).
    • Designed Section: includes abstract ambiences, futuristic alarms, glitches, flybys, flapping of winds, flock of birds, individual birds, frogs, and much more (71 files).
    • Descriptive markers that highlight interesting events in an otherwise featureless waveform. These markers can be read in programs such as Izotope RX, Reaper and Soundminer.

    All files come in 96 kHz / 24 bit and with embedded metadata, both in Soundminer and BWAV.

    Featuring more than 250 minutes of cicadas recordings plus 65 minutes from the Designed Section.

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  • Ships Container Ship Voyage Play Track 157 sounds included From: $64

    We had the chance to make the crossing of the North Atlantic Ocean on a cargo ship container (ATLANTIC STAR).
    We boarded in the Antwerp industrial port in Belgium, sailed the English Channel, and then stopped at Liverpool’s industrial port.
    Then we crossed the North Atlantic Ocean to reach Halifax, Canada. This trip took us 10 days, 10 days of sounds recording.

    Through this trip, we were able to access places that normally are closed to the public: industrial ports, and a container ship.

    -The completed sound bank (Stereo + Surround-Ambisonic) contains 154 files record in 24 bit / 96 kHz

  • Cars Monaco Grand Prix 2018 Play Track 334 sounds included From: $99

    We’re proud to release our first premier race ambience library, as we continue our exciting journey in sound experimentation with spatial audio. The Monaco Grand Prix 2018 is a genuine sonic document of the 76th edition of the Grand Prix Automobile de Monaco, the world’s most glamorous race.
    If you’re looking for unique and modern race engine sounds and ambiences to use in your commercial, movie, television or game projects, here you’ll find lot of sounds with different perspectives to start building real and tactile sport soundscapes.
    We made use of two favourite Ambisonics microphones: the Sennheiser Ambeo and the classic Soundfield SPS200, recorded across our Sonosax gear (SX-R4+, SX-R4, SX-M32) and their amazing preamps, which digested the high SPLs of the high-performance cars.
    But that’s not all: you’ll also find extremely accurate stereo recordings made with a Sanken CSS-5, an A-B Stereo Technique configuration with a couple of omnidirectional DPA 4060 and, last but not least, a custom MS rig based on a Schoeps MK 41 supercardioid capsule (Mid), plus a MK 8 figure-8 capsule (Side), amplified by their respective CMC 6 units.
    Looking for radical transformations? We recorded everything @ 96 kHz, so if you want to turn a pass-by into a dramatic spaceship pass, you’ll be free from any sonic artifacts.

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  • Environments Complete Surround Sound LAB Collection Play Track 2500+ sounds included, 1000 mins total $460

    The Surround Sound LAB Complete Collection is a bundle containing the whole SSL Catalog. We offer it as a perpetual audio collection subscription, getting you 2500+ files, 140+ GB of audio and free updates as the catalog grows! This one-time bundle purchase gives you access to all the Surround Sound LAB libraries, including new future releases!

    Add to cart

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The Ambisonics difference

Without getting bogged down in too much detail, Ambisonics, developed in the early 1970s by Peter Fellget and Michael Gerzon is a way of recording and reproducing surround sound in both horizontal and vertical surround from a single point source. Yes, that’s right: eat your hearts out, DTS:X™, Dolby Atmos™ and Auro 3D™, Ambisonics has been capable of full surround including height and depth for around forty years, and it’s non-proprietary. You can find the relevant Wikipedia entry here for an explanation of the basic science behind the technique.

At its simplest, what’s known as a first-order B-Format surround signal can be generated either by software manipulation of mono sources or by a special type of microphone, using a tetrahedral array of four near-coincident capsules.

The Soundfield Microphone Tetrahedral Array

The Soundfield Microphone Tetrahedral Array

Those from TSL/Soundfield output a B-Format signal, which supplies a matrixed four-channel signal, where the four channels are designated W, X, Y and Z, where W represents on omni-directional reference, X represents front and back, Y represents left and right and Z equals up and down. (This is a gross simplification, but it’ll suffice for this article.) These microphones will have hardware control units that give the user options in terms of gain and directional orientation and filtering and are at the top-end of the market.

The Soundfield SPS200 and the Core Sound TetraMic both output simple capsule feeds and need software (SurroundZone2 for the Soundfield and VVTetraVST for the Core Sound) to correctly matrix the capsule feeds into a B-Format signal.

The resulting four-channel signal can then be trans-coded for output in many ways, from a single source in mono to multi-speaker surround arrays, with the major advantage being that once you have a the initial capture, you can use post processing to vary pan, tilt, zoom and rotate: something that’s not exactly simple to achieve with other systems.

 

Lots of opportunities with Ambisonics:

Ambisonics allows you to transcode your B-format source material into a myriad of formats, by using the free SoundField SurroundZone 2 plugin – including stereo, 5.0, 5.1, 6.0, 6.1, 7.0 or 7.1 surround.

The early days of Ambisonics

The development of Ambisonics was sponsored by a UK government organization called the National Research and Development Corporation, the aim of which was to exploit commercially technology created in the public sector. With Ambisonics, it failed dismally and the technique became the preserve of a few dedicated enthusiasts, but Soundfield Microphone sales continued to those who saw the various uses to which the system could be but, not the least as a pretty impressive stereo microphone for use in recording studios.

The main problem with using Ambisonics in large listening areas such as movie-theaters has always been the size of the sweet-spot, which was pretty small. The effect was still obvious and fairly impressive outside the sweet spot, but didn’t have the wow-factor of artificially pan-potted effects that became the staple of 5.1 and 7.1 movie theater systems. It did, however, give a far more realistic sense of being in the scene than its rather more sensational rival.

Ambisonics evolved

Initially, the decoding hardware was complex and expensive and the lack of truly portable multi-track recording equipment meant that you were pretty much tied to a mains supply and a rack full of gear, but the arrival of sophisticated portable computer interfaces – in my case, the Metric Halo 2882 which could be powered via the FireWire port of a Macintosh PowerBook – meant that it’s been possible to record using Soundfield microphones free from mains power for around fifteen years. Much of the material in my effects libraries has been recorded using this system, although for more portability, I also use Sound Devices 744 and 788 recorders, which have basic B-Format monitoring built-in.

ambisonics recording

Early location surround recording set-up: Mac PowerBook, Metric Halo 2882 interface and Soundfield ST250 control unit & microphone, Rycote windshield.

Further development in software processing has also meant that expensive hardware is no longer needed for transcoding and, thanks to research carried out at various academic institutions, much of the software to accomplish this is free. The small sweet-spot problem remained, though, and much of the effects material recorded in B-Format by me and others like me, was simply decoded, initially, to stereo and lately, to 5.1 surround, with the height aspect being discarded.

It’s now entirely possible using software, to enlarge the sweet spot, decode for binaural and even to deal with irregular speaker arrays in large venues.

Recently, however, there have been major developments in the use of Ambisonics, particularly with the arrival of immersive virtual reality systems such as the Oculus Rift and it’s now entirely possible using software, to enlarge the sweet spot, decode for binaural and even to deal with irregular speaker arrays in large venues.

One of the developers in the forefront of this technology is a company called Blue Ripple Sound and the good news is that the core software to experiment with this is free, with the caveat that it only works with certain DAWs at the moment, although one of these is the ridiculously cheap, but amazingly versatile Reaper.
 

Introducing a brand-new Ambisonics SFX category:

 
A whole new sound effects category is opening up here on A Sound Effect, dedicated to Ambisonics SFX libraries – and a bunch of libraries have just been added. Check out a small selection below:
 

  • Roomtones & Ext. Ambiences Ambiance – City Life Play Track 24 sounds included, 67 mins total $10 $8

    City Life Ambiance is a small collection of ambisonic recordings performed at various locations of different cities. The recordings took place at both internal and external locations.
    This collection is great for post production, VR/AR experiences, game developers and any real-time 3D audio engine.
    All files are tagged and categorized for your convenience – supporting tag filtering browsing applications.

    To create this product a Sennheizer Ambeo microphone paired with Zoom H8 was used.

    This package includes 24 Samples – Total 67 minutes of content.

    The library is also available in 360 Ambisonic version here.

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  • Ambisonics Ambisonic – City Life Play Track 24 sounds included, 67 mins total $20 $17

    Ambisonic City Life is a small collection of ambisonic recordings performed at various locations of different cities. The recordings took place at both internal and external locations.

    This collection is great for post production, VR/AR experiences, game developers and any real-time 3D audio engine.
    All files are tagged and categorized for your convenience – supporting tag filtering browsing applications.

    To create this product a Sennheizer Ambeo microphone paired with Zoom H8 was used.

    This package includes 24 Samples – Total 67 minutes of content.
    Supported formats: First Order AmbiX B-Format and Stereo (Total of 48 files).

    Download a B-Format Ambix demo here: Demo

    The library is also available in a stereo only version here.

     

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  • Ambisonics Ambisonic – Synthetic Sphere Play Track 10 sounds included, 51 mins total $20 $12

    Synthetic Sphere is a collection of spatialised synthetic pads, mixed in an ambisonic format for a complete 360 interactive soundtrack. Multiple layers of pads, tones and amorphic FX are spreaded across the sphere, resulting in a truly immersive experience. These pads include gentle movement across 3D space, creating rich ambiances but without catching to much of the listener attention.

    This collection is great for post production, VR/AR experiences, game developers and any real-time 3D audio engine.

    All files are tagged and categorized for your convenience – supporting tag filtering browsing applications.

     

    This package includes 10 Samples – Total 51 minutes of content.

    Supported formats: First Order AmbiX and Stereo (Total of 20 files).

    Download a B-Format Ambix demo here: Demo

    The library is also available in a stereo only version here.

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  • Environments Ambisonic – Western Wall Play Track 10+ sounds included, 24 mins total From: $10

    Western Wall | HaKotel is a small collection of recordings performed at the western wall located at the heart of Jerusalem. The recordings mainly includes Judaism prayers, but also presents Islam prayers, such as the Moasin.
    The recordings took place at both internal and external locations.

    This collection is great for post production, VR/AR experiences, game developers and any real-time 3D audio engines.

    To create this product a Sennheizer Ambeo microphone paired with Zoom H8 was used.

    This package includes 10 Samples – Total 24:00 minutes of content.
    Supported formats: B-Format AmbiX and Stereo (Total of 20 files).

    Want to hear an example of the included recordings? Download a B-format Demo here

  • Ambisonics Ambisonic Airplane Cessna 172 Play Track 17 sounds included, 144 mins total $19.99 $17

    The Ambisonic Airplanes Cessna 172 library, is a small library procured from a single short flight.  The recordings were made from the rear passenger seat positioned as close as possible to the middle of the aircraft.  The front of the Ambisonic microphone faced the cockpit.  The flight was recorded in it’s entirety and edited down for easier use.

    Types of recordings include idling, flying, flying with windows open, taxiing, taxiing with windows open, engine turning on, engine turning off, plane during takeoff, plane during landing, plane engine test (1700 RPM test) and more.

    The library was recorded using a Sennheiser Ambeo VR Microphone onto a Sound Devices MixPre 6.  The library has a fairly large size because we have conveniently provided 4 versions of the same files to make it easier and more flexible to use.  Included you will find B-Format wav files (FuMa and AmbiX) A-Format raw wav files and a Binaural stereo mix down.  The library includes a total of 17 unique files and 68 total files.

     

    Information on the Cessna 172 from Wikipedia:The Cessna 172 Skyhawk is an American four-seat, single-engine, high wing, fixed-wing aircraft made by the Cessna Aircraft Company.  First flown in 1955, more 172s have been built than any other aircraft.

    Measured by its longevity and popularity, the Cessna 172 is the most successful aircraft in history. Cessna delivered the first production model in 1956 and as of 2015, the company and its partners had built more than 44,000.  The aircraft remains in production today.

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  • Ambisonics Ambisonic Ambiance Collection 1 Play Track 71 sounds included, 203 mins total $89 $49

    Ambisonic Ambiance Collection 1 aims to provide a complete solution for a wide variety of sound scenarios.

    It features a range of ambience recordings such as cities, roads, parks, countrysides, shores, airports, shopping malls, underground parking lots, various room-tones and much more.

    It is great for post production, VR/AR experiences, game developers and any real-time 3D audio engine.

    This package includes 71 Files – Total 3:23:00 hours of content, with an average track duration of 0:02:45 minuets.

    The full pack includes the following formats: B-format FuMa, B-Format AmbiX and Stereo (Total of 213 files). The library is also available in a stereo-only version here.

    Hear an example here:
    Want to hear an example of the included recordings? Download a B-format Demo here
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  • Human Ambisonic Audiences Play Track 133+ sounds included
    Rated 5.00 out of 5
    $50 $35

    Applause and Laughter recorded in various spaces in full B-Format Ambisonic surround. Over 90 tracks of audience laughter an another 40 of so of applause and audience reactions and chatter. 96 kHz / 24 bit recordings with full Soundminer-embedded metadata.

    Transcode with the free SoundField SurroundZone 2 plug-in in your DAW of choice, or use Svein Berge’s brilliant Harpex-B for stunning results.

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  • City Life Ambisonic City Play Track 30 sounds included, 231 mins total From: $69

    Ambisonic City features 30 24bit / 96 kHz surround sound effects with a large selection of city center traffic and ambience. Mastered in 3 configurations: Ambisonic B format (FuMa 1st Order WXYZ), 5.1 Surround Sound (L-C-R-Ls-Rr-Lf ) and Stereo (L-R).

    Recorded with a Brahma Ambisonic Microphone and a Zoom F8 recorder in various locations around Los Angeles. Recording locations are all from center perspective, and recorded between traffic lanes on medians, bridges, walkways and tunnels to capture the movement of a city. Most tracks are 2-3 minutes with embedded metadata. Want a taste of what's included? Download the B Format Surround Demo file here and try it out on your own system!

    Available in three versions:

    • 5.1 (LCRLsRsLf) + Stereo. 60 tracks, 8.9 GB
    • B Format Only (wxyz). 30 tracks, 4.39 GB
    • Full Package: B format (wxyz) + 5.1 (LCRLsRsLf) + Stereo. 90 tracks, 13.31 GB

    – pick your preferred version below:

View all Ambisonics libraries here

Getting started with Ambisonics

If you do want to test the waters and you have Reaper, ProTools, Cubase, Nuendo or Logic, there are a couple of ways you can achieve this at no cost, other than some time to read and understand how to set your system up. There are a number of software plug-ins that will decode audio material recorded as B-Format surround, but probably the first stop should be the plug-in specifically designed to deal with the output of Soundfield Microphones: the company is now part of TSL Products and their SurroundZone2 plug-in is available for VST, AU and AAX systems, with VST & AAX available for both MacOS and Windows computers. You can download it for free here.

If you want a more advanced version, the truly excellent Harpex-B plug-in is available here. It isn’t free, in fact it’s quite expensive, but there’s a thirty day free trial available, which is worth experimenting with.

Harpex-B Ambisonic Decoding

Two instances of Harpex-B Ambisonic Decoding software in use in a complex surround mix, along with two mid/side decoders.

If you’re a Windows user and prepared to dig a little deeper into the system set-up, then you can try Dave McGriffy’s VVMicVST plug-in, which as the name suggests is a VST-only plug-in, although Dave has recently expanded his suite of tools and these can be found on his VVAudio site.

 

Popular on A Sound Effect right now - article continues below:

 

Latest releases:  
  • World Sounds Human Africa Play Track 46+ sounds included, 260 mins total From: $75 From: $60

    Human Africa is a collection of authentic ambiences recorded in rural and urban locations across various countries in Africa.

    The library covers a wide range of settings, from urban idyllic countryside ambiences and conversations in various languages to traffic and skyline soundscapes. Each file is carefully meta-tagged with location, time of day and language (if present) information.

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  • Foley Helinä Play Track 754+ sounds included, 225 mins total $80

    “Helinä” can be translated as “the tinkling sound made by the shaking of tiny bells”.  These may be wind chimes, and some are quite large, but the meaning of the name still rings true.  Beautiful, glorious, and entrancing wind chimes, all stirred up for your designing and listening pleasure.

    We've meticulously recorded and only very lightly edited 15 different sets of wind chimes composed of varying materials, shapes, and sizes. The result is a stirring array of shimmering textures from the soft dull knock of bamboo to the brilliant crystalline sparkle of obsidian. 

    The chimes sets and performances include:

    Chimes: Bamboo, Glass Shards, Porcelain Bell, Cast iron Bell, Glass Bell, Stoneware, Obsidian, Buoy, Paper/Mixed, Copper, Aluminum, Bronze, Agate, Shells, Capiz

    Performances: Flowing (Short, Med, Long), Breeze (Light), Windy (Moderate), Stormy (Heavy), Quaking, Plops, Gusts, Strikes, Grabbing, Releasing

    You'll get incredible tonal depth, preciously sustained tails, and conveniently isolated strikes and “gusts” resulting in a natural representation of each chime.  All of the chime-work was recorded in 192 kHz so you can bend, stretch, and twist with the comfort of the extended harmonic content of each chime.  All of the performances resulted in 50 separate files for each of the 15 chimes, making layering and matching performances a breeze.  In addition to the chime sets, we've included four stereo wind captures, in different capacities and locations, for adding context and ambiance to any wind chime-appropriate environment you may find yourself working on. 

    Add to cart
  • Foley The Vintage Toybox Play Track 212 sounds included, 34 mins total $20

    A collection of vintage toy sounds. From the grating noise of a balloon being rubbed, to the childhood memory evoking sounds of a pogo stick bouncing away, a toy train whirring around, a tin robot stomping along, to deliciously gross slime; these sounds may be just what you need for your game, video, film or animation.

    Add to cart
  • ‘Fully Charged Vol.1’ is a collection of 205 sound effects from the science-fiction realm. Each sound is made from an original sound source representative of energy movements, impacts, weapons and other alien sounds. Easily manipulable, these sounds are ideal for a range of sound design applications.

    Add to cart
  • Horror Horror Cinema Transitions & Impacts Play Track 100 sounds included, 8 mins total $55 $45

    'Horror Cinema Transitions & Impacts' by Cinematic Sound Design delivers a unique hand-crafted selection of sound effects, designed for Horror films, games, apps, music productions, company logos and more.

    The sounds within this pack have been meticulously designed using both synthesis & recording techniques. In addition to a range of outboard synthesizers, a huge selection of foley sound effects were recorded using Sound Devices 702 field recorder and a pair of Neumann KM184 microphones. All sounds have been put together & processed later through an Apogee Symphony AD/DA.

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Horror Sound Effects Sale

The Horror Sound Effects Sale is now live!

Land huge savings on scary sound effects libraries here


Need specific sound effects? Try a search below:
 

Want to dig deeper still? Daniel Courville has a whole suite of software, including a Double M/S version and one for making your Zoom H2 surround recordings sound pretty good.

How to record surround in B-Format

Want to buy a mic of your own? Aside from the Soundfield and TetraMic products mentioned earlier, a new, Kickstarter-funded company in India produces the Brahma microphones, which are also causing interest, especially as they’ve managed to build one into a Zoom H2N body, making it the smallest complete surround recording package available anywhere. Check it out here and read about one user’s experiences here

In closing, let’s sum up the key takeways from this primer:

• Ambisonics is a method of recording and reproducing audio in full 360 degree surround.

• Post-processing can transcode the recordings into various conventional surround formats.

• Specialist hardware and software is required for recording and processing the audio.

• Much of the processing software is free and works with many DAWs.

• Microphone prices start at under $1,000.00

 

A big thanks to John Leonard for this overview of what Ambisonic recording is all about! Check out his sound effect libraries here, and explore the new Ambisonics SFX category here.

 
 

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About John Leonard:

John Leonard is an experienced sound designer and recordist from the UK, where he’s done pioneering work in theatre sound since the 1970s. His work includes exhibition projects in the UK, North America and China, and shows in London’s West-End, The National Theatre Of Great Britain, The Royal Shakespeare Company, The Royal Court, The Almeida, The Lincoln Center Festival and more. He’s also the creator of the popular Immersive FX sound effect series. Learn more about his work here.


 
 
THE WORLD’S EASIEST WAY TO GET INDEPENDENT SOUND EFFECTS:
 
A Sound Effect gives you easy access to an absolutely huge sound effects catalog from a myriad of independent sound creators, all covered by one license agreement - a few highlights:
 
 
  • Horror Distorted Perception Play Track 146 sounds included, 44 mins total $25 $10

    Need to create a tense atmosphere to induce madness, craziness and fear in your Horror or Sci-fi project? DISTORTED PERCEPTION is the library for you.

    Abnormal melodies, strange sound movements, transitions and distorted cinematic impacts are some of the things you will find in this collection; sounds with a distorted, saturated and tense feeling to grab people’s attention and provoke fear, tension and suspense in them.

    You can also use the sounds to enhance musical productions or create some nasty and crazy musical moments, thanks to a nice selection of percussive elements. The library contains two musical compositions using only the sounds in this library (using the percussive sounds with some of the atmospheres and transitions). Apart of being a great library for Horror or Sci-fi games and movies, this collection works well for trailers too.

    Sounds included:
    Atmospheric elements: Abnormal melodies, feedback and tense drones • Cinematic basses • Saturated bass drops • Distorted cinematic impacts • Sci-fi impacts • Sound movements • Noises • Percussive elements: Drum kicks, distorted drum kicks, hi-hats, snare drums, movements and sequences • Transitions

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  • Whooshes Organic Whooshes Play Track 1215 sounds included
    Rated 5.00 out of 5
    $24

    More than 1200 whooshes from classic and unusual sources. Broom, fire, cable, pipe, fabric and many other swipes join wooshes from aerosol spray, combs, dish rack, and more strange sources.

    Each clip is carefully trimmed and meticulously organized in folders and with full metadata.

    Add to cart
  • Horror Atmosfear Play Track 50 sounds included, 31 mins total $10 $7.50

    Featuring sounds taken from lo-fi instrumental recordings, harsh noise experiments and granular synthesis explorations, Atmosfear is a gritty soundscape collection geared towards the horror genre. With a distinctly unpolished production style to bring a rough edge to your scenario, these sounds can be used to invoke feelings of suspense, dread, tension, fear and doom into your characters and environments.

    What does an industrial scale torture chamber in an abandoned asylum sound like? What about a high-voltage electrical possession? Find the answer to these questions and more with Atmosfear. Enter if you dare.

    Note: For a limited time, this library is included for FREE when you purchase Paranormal from Glitchedtones
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Explore the full, unique collection here

Horror Sound Effects Sale

The Horror Sound Effects Sale is now live!

Land huge savings on scary sound effects libraries here


Latest sound effects libraries:
 
  • World Sounds Human Africa Play Track 46+ sounds included, 260 mins total From: $75 From: $60

    Human Africa is a collection of authentic ambiences recorded in rural and urban locations across various countries in Africa.

    The library covers a wide range of settings, from urban idyllic countryside ambiences and conversations in various languages to traffic and skyline soundscapes. Each file is carefully meta-tagged with location, time of day and language (if present) information.

    20 %
    OFF
    Ends 1540418400
  • Foley Helinä Play Track 754+ sounds included, 225 mins total $80

    “Helinä” can be translated as “the tinkling sound made by the shaking of tiny bells”.  These may be wind chimes, and some are quite large, but the meaning of the name still rings true.  Beautiful, glorious, and entrancing wind chimes, all stirred up for your designing and listening pleasure.

    We've meticulously recorded and only very lightly edited 15 different sets of wind chimes composed of varying materials, shapes, and sizes. The result is a stirring array of shimmering textures from the soft dull knock of bamboo to the brilliant crystalline sparkle of obsidian. 

    The chimes sets and performances include:

    Chimes: Bamboo, Glass Shards, Porcelain Bell, Cast iron Bell, Glass Bell, Stoneware, Obsidian, Buoy, Paper/Mixed, Copper, Aluminum, Bronze, Agate, Shells, Capiz

    Performances: Flowing (Short, Med, Long), Breeze (Light), Windy (Moderate), Stormy (Heavy), Quaking, Plops, Gusts, Strikes, Grabbing, Releasing

    You'll get incredible tonal depth, preciously sustained tails, and conveniently isolated strikes and “gusts” resulting in a natural representation of each chime.  All of the chime-work was recorded in 192 kHz so you can bend, stretch, and twist with the comfort of the extended harmonic content of each chime.  All of the performances resulted in 50 separate files for each of the 15 chimes, making layering and matching performances a breeze.  In addition to the chime sets, we've included four stereo wind captures, in different capacities and locations, for adding context and ambiance to any wind chime-appropriate environment you may find yourself working on. 

  • Foley The Vintage Toybox Play Track 212 sounds included, 34 mins total $20

    A collection of vintage toy sounds. From the grating noise of a balloon being rubbed, to the childhood memory evoking sounds of a pogo stick bouncing away, a toy train whirring around, a tin robot stomping along, to deliciously gross slime; these sounds may be just what you need for your game, video, film or animation.

  • ‘Fully Charged Vol.1’ is a collection of 205 sound effects from the science-fiction realm. Each sound is made from an original sound source representative of energy movements, impacts, weapons and other alien sounds. Easily manipulable, these sounds are ideal for a range of sound design applications.

  • Horror Horror Cinema Transitions & Impacts Play Track 100 sounds included, 8 mins total $55 $45

    'Horror Cinema Transitions & Impacts' by Cinematic Sound Design delivers a unique hand-crafted selection of sound effects, designed for Horror films, games, apps, music productions, company logos and more.

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7 thoughts on “Welcome to the wonderful world of Ambisonics – a primer by John Leonard

  1. Great article, but I don’t quite understand this ‘getting started’ paragraph:

    ‘If you do want to test the waters…there are a couple of ways you can achieve this at no cost, …software plug-ins that will decode audio material recorded as B-Format…probably the first stop should be the plug-in specifically designed to deal with the output of Soundfield Microphones.’

    If you need to buy a Soundfield microphone, how is this at ‘no cost’. If you can use your own microphones, how do we ENCODE our recorded sound into B-Format?

    • Hi Christopher, thanks for the comment! Now, I’m not John :) – but I think what he means by that paragraph is in terms of working with existing B-format recordings, ie working with B-format content in your DAW.

  2. Hi,

    Thanks for this great article. I’m just starting to learn the process of capturing and mixing 360 sound. I’m confused though, is the “only” benefit of buying an ambisonic mic just have to do with the ease of workflow? Sort of how it’s best to use a matched stereo pair for stereo recordings if you want the best result with the least hassle? Or is it literally impossible to set up regular mics in a tetrahedron array and eventually get an ambisonic file from that capture, even if it happens in post through a plugin like ambipan or something similar? That seems like it would make sense intuitively since you should be able to use prerecorded mono SFX samples and create an ambisonic environment using a plugin like that…right? Sorry for the novice question. Hope it made sense.

  3. Hello Christopher & Jared,

    Christopher, I did indeed mean that you can experiment with existing B-Format material: there’s plenty of free stuff around – try http://www.ambisonia.com for non-commercial material that you can play around with. Then buy libraries from Asbjoern and keep us poor recordists from starving!

    Jared, Soundfield-type microphones that use a tetrahedral array are designed to keep the capsules as close together as possible, effectively to create a point-source, which will give the best results. My ST450 and my TetraMic are both compact, portable set-ups that can be fitted into shockmounts and windshields and used in the same way as a conventional microphone for effects gathering. It’s possible and quite easy to build an array from conventional microphones for horizontal surround only, and there are various illustrations of rigs that achieve this, using an omni and two figure-of-eight microphones. Do a search for ‘Native B-Format Array’ or go straight here – http://www.radio.uqam.ca/ambisonic/native_b.html for a pretty comprehensive example. You’ll notice that it’s not exactly a compact set-up, though.

    Please feel free to ask anything else and I’ll see if I can help.

  4. Hi,

    I’m doing an audio project for work (completely new to ambisonics/encoding/speaker systems in general, though do have some basic understanding).

    Just to check i’ve got this right, in extreme laymans terms, would I be able to record a piece of ambisonics audio (using for example, a Sennheiser Ambeo 3D VR mic), mix the B format using various different software available, then somehow output it to either a channel based or object based speaker system? (For example, Dolby Atmos or Auro-3D).

    I can’t seem to figure out if Dolby Atmos or Auro-3D are compatible with ambisonics recordings.

    Sorry if these are really basic questions, I’m completely new to file formats and encoding!

    Thanks,
    Lewis

  5. Lewis,

    I’m not sure what you mean by “mix the B-Format” The B-Format signal is what you’ll get after doing the processing from the A-Format (basically capsule outputs) from the Ambeo, the TetraMic or the Soundfield SPS-200. All these microphones have their own processing software to let you achieve this, with varying degrees of precision, and once done, you’ll need further processing to do anything useful with the B-Format. Probably the best bet for transcoding at the moment is Svein Berge’s Harpex-X, which will let you output a multi-channel file that will work with Dolby Atmos or Auro-3D, although it’s not a low-cost option, or a simple one, as you’ll need to use two instances of the plug-in to get the requisite number of output channels.

    There are other options available, but I don’t have time at the moment to go into them at the moment, due to work/life complications. I’ll do my best to expand on them a little later.

    You’re not entering a simple world here, and it’s not a cheap one, either: be prepared to spend lots of time and money. You can download the Harpex manual here: https://harpex.net/manual.pdf

    All the best,

    John

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