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:

  • Environments Singapore City Soundscapes Play Track 122 sounds included, 327 mins total From: $20

    Welcome to A Sound Effect's first ever Singapore Sound Effects library!

    Explore Singapore as you've never heard it before! This massive library includes ambisonic sounds recorded with the new Zoom H3 VR, binaural recordings with the Soundman OKM II Rock Studio and stereo soundscapes recorded with the Zoom F8n, DPA 4060 and several LOM microphones.

    The diversity of Singapore makes this library unique with lush sounds from busy highways, crowded food markets/ hawker centers in many different languages, neighborhood basketball games at night, skateparks, horse races, city rain sounds, the countries super efficient underground train station (MRT), and even loud military fighter jets and helicopters.

    Perhaps you're wanting nature sounds? No problem! This library features sounds from a variety of cicadas recorded at night and birds from the famous Javan Mynah near Mount Faber.

    With nearly six hours of recordings throughout Singapore, we suggest reviewing the metadata and discovering sounds you may not have expected!

    The library is available in 3 variations: A Stereo, AmbiX and special bundle featuring both Stereo and AmbiX files at a big discount.

  • Ambisonics City Life: Central America Play Track 71+ sounds included, 456 mins total From: $80

    City Life: Central America is a collection of sounds captured across 3 Central American countries: Mexico, Guatemala and Nicaragua.

    This library focus is on city atmosphere, especially in street/cover markets, pedestrian areas, parks, and many more.

    The sounds captured in Mexico show a more “modern” Spanish atmosphere, compared to the more “traditional” Maya’s markets of Guatemala, where people speak a mix of Spanish and k’iche'(traditional Mayan language used in some parts of Guatemala)

    For the 3 countries we visited a large amount of cities (x10) to capture the exceptional urban soundscapes of Central America.

    The record duration are around 6:00 min per take. For the cities, we used a discreet setup: Sennheiser AMBEO and an AB stereo setup with x2 Sennheiser MKH 8040.

    Each sound recording are located with GPS coordinates and full soundminer metadata.

    The Sennheiser AMBEO is an ambisonic microphone, than can be decode in many differents formats (binaural, 7.1, 5.1, stéréo, mono, etc…) for decode it you can use the Harpex plugin or the free Soundfield/Rodes plugin.

    -The Full sound bank (Stereo + Surround/Ambisonic) contains 71 sound takes record in 24/96khZ and decline in 267 files

    -The stereo sound bank contains only the stereo files (119 files).

  • Environments Surround Sound LAB Complete Collection Play Track 3000+ 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 3000+ files, 180+ 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
  • Ambisonics Old Town VR Play Track 32 sounds included, 119 mins total $30 $15

    This ambisonic library takes us to the historical centre of a magic city of Prague. A listener is surrounded by international crowds with lots of voices and footsteps in all possible distances. The soundscape background is complemented by diffused city noises of all kinds. And you can even meet a procession of Asian tourists!

    Highlights:-16+16 crowd ambiences take place in narrow streets and large squares

    -from decent pads to significantly sounding moments

    -recorded on Sound Devices MixPre-6 and Soundfield by Rode NTSF1 ambisonic microphone

    -both first order AmbiX and standard stereo files in the box

    -96/24 resolution, 6.2 GB unpacked, 59.5 minutes of the original audio, 119 minutes in total

    -all tracks are over 3 minutes length

    -convert the Ambix files into any other format, up to 7.1.4 Atmos surround

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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:
 

  • Ambisonics Ambisonic – City Life Play Track 24 sounds included, 67 mins total $29

    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.

     

    Add to cart
  • Ambisonics Ambisonic – Synthetic Sphere Play Track 10 sounds included, 51 mins total $15 $11

    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

    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 $59

    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

    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.

    Add to cart
  • Environments Ambisonic Bishopstone Beach Play Track 12 sounds included, 39 mins total $15

    Binaural and Ambisonic ambiences from Bishopstone Beach on England’s south coast. No people, stony beach, lovely crisp ambiences. Variety of distances will make this very useful for anyone working with VR work.

    All recorded with the Sennheiser AMBEO VR and a Zoom F8.

    Very rough seas but no wind noise.

    B-Format Ambisonics and Binaural Stereo Files.

    Add to cart
  • 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:  
  • Drones & Moods The Case Play Track 185 sounds included, 41 mins total $30 $10

    Need to create suspense, tension, action and mystery in your production? “The Case” is great for you.

    Like my library UNSOLVED this pack is Inspired by crime/investigation movies and series, and contains 185 sounds (Wav, 24 Bit / 48 kHz) aimed to enhance the tension and drama of movies, games, series, trailers and musical compositions.

    You will find deep Bass Loops, powerful Percussive Loops (kick, hi-hat, hits, metal), Cinematic Melodies and notes (synth, clean electric guitar, percussive piano) and Fx (soundscapes, atmospheric elements, drops, hits and impacts).

    You will get:

    • 37 bass loops
    • 37 cinematic melodies
    • 67 percussive elements
    • 44 Fx

    This library has a nice mixture of sound design and music. It can be used to create moments of suspense and tension from a sound designe perspective or from a musical perspective thanks to the bass/percussion loops and melodies.

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  • Drones & Moods Sonikscape Play Track 338 sounds included, 191 mins total $74

    SONIKSCAPE has been produced to create intense underscore, dark atmospheres and abstract textures.

    This collection comes packed with cinematic soundscapes, vocal atmospheres, textures out of processed flutes, ghost breaths and vocal effects, dark low oscillations and subsonic frequencies, bowed cymbals, psychological screech and more.

    Dedicated to the movie trailer, suspenseful film and television soundtrack, dark ambient music, audio-visual installation and sound artist.

    Sonikscape is a collaboration between SampleTraxx and German sound designer Sebastian Emling who already collaborated on Cinematic Zither and Old Broken Piano.

    Add to cart
  • Destruction & Impact Rituals Play Track 550+ sounds included, 100 mins total $110 $85

    Rituals is a new toolbox of unique sounds and production elements, organic instruments and hybrid processing, highly stylized cinematic sound design to compose epic and sinister tracks with dark and ominous mood that brings visuals to another level.

    Rituals has been produced for the modern horror trailer style and suspence score with eerie violin fragments and phrases, sinister soundscapes, dramatic benders, destructive glitch, distorted synths, heavy hitting sound design elements, clocks and much more.

    Featuring 550 cutting edge sounds and 16 categories, this is a collaboration between composer, sound designer and electronic musician Si Begg and SampleTraxx.

     

    Categories:

    01 Tortured Strings
    02 Bender
    03 Feedback Larsen
    04 Horror Hits
    05 Pulsing Sub
    06 Tonal Objects
    07 Dark Event
    08 Dark Textures
    09 Flute Swells
    10 Horror Loops
    11 Low Hits
    12 Raw Synth – Bass
    13 Swell
    14 Riser
    15 Reverse
    16 Spare Noise
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  • Water & Oceans Ancient Sea Ruins Play Track 10 sounds included, 53 mins total $19.99 $14.99

    ANCIENT SEA RUINS is a collection of 10, high quality, detail-rich sea ambiences.
    Waves splashing on Roman ruins, gurgling, lapping, swells, water movement between rocks and more.

    Collection consist of 10 (53 min total time) high quality recordings (192kHz 24bit) of sea water traveling through old Roman ruins. Interesting and unique sounding wave patterns, gurgles, swells and wave collapsing onto one another. Many states of the sea from peaceful lapping and subtle gurgling to large swells.

    All the recording are free from city noises.

    All SFX have baked-in Soundminer’s meta data.

    LOCATION: Costa Blanca, ES
    RECORDED WITH: Sound Devices MixPre 6 + 2x Sennheiser MKH 8040 (ORTF)
    EDITED AND MASTERED WITH: Pro Tools, FabFilter.

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  • Water & Oceans SHORES island Play Track 45 sounds included $54 $42.70

    SHORES island edition features both varieties of beaches and cliffs from Oshima island, Japan, and extra harbors & boats are also included.
    While calm beaches have relaxing atmospheres, cliffs sound aggressive that like onboard ships. And others like rocky beaches create colorful sounds.

    Recorded with ortf, spaced omni, wide A-B and carefully edited.

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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:
 
 
  • Roomtones & Ext. Ambiences House Tones Play Track 57+ sounds included, 114 mins total $40

    House Tones by Badlands Sound features 57 two minute seamless loopable roomtones totaling of almost two hours of different room tones found in a home including Bathrooms, Basements, Bedrooms, Closets, Garages, Home Offices, Laundry Rooms, Kitchens, Living Rooms, Showers, and Utility Room.

    This sound library was recorded with professional gear including the Sound Devices 702t, Rycote ORTF, and a pair of Sennheiser MKH 8040’s creating high quality roomtones of 96k / 24 bit.

    If you are looking for house or apartment room tones then this library is for you. All files in this product have great file names and metadata with descriptive words with no number lists.

    Add to cart
  • Whooshes Airy Whooshes Play Track 409 sounds included $29

    Over 400 focused sound design accents of airy swooshes, subtle swipes, thin whooshes, and breathy fly-ins.

    This collection features:

    • Each clip is trimmed into its own file.
    • Available in multiple pitches and speeds.
    • Meticulously named and organized in both metadata and folder classification.
    • Includes 18+ fields of professional Soundminer, BWAV, and MacOS Finder metadata.
    Add to cart
  • Destruction & Impact Urban Explosions Play Track 2417+ sounds included From: $119

    Welcome to the world's biggest explosion sound effects library:

    When you carry the word „BOOM“ in your company name, your first dedicated explosion sound effects library should be a decent one. For the recordings, we teamed up with the sound department of EA DICE (Battlefield, Star Wars Battlefront) and we created the biggest explosion sound FX library ever. DICE uses the recordings heavily to impressively blow up the world in their AAA title Battlefield V and now you can get the recordings and our ready-to-use designed sounds in stereo and 5.1 surround for your very own projects. It’s a highly explosive pack with 13.4GB of explosion sound effects.

    Urban Explosions Construction Kit:

    Recorded in real urban environments
    Why Urban Explosions? Most explosions in movies, games or trailers don’t happen out on a plain field, they happen in urban environments with buildings around them that shape the character of the explosion sound in a very specific way. The special thing about our urban explosions sound FX library is that it has been recorded in a real urban environment, so you get super-realistic reverbs and tails instead of artificially processed post-production reverbs or tails that don’t sound urban at all. For the sake of completeness, we also recorded a non-urban explosion on a plain field, so you’re covered here as well.

    Multi-Channel Recordings with up to 42 Channels
    We had a lot of microphones with us and we placed them in all possible positions around the explosion spot. We have very close mics, close mics, medium distance mics, distant mics, mics in front of buildings, mics behind buildings, mics inside of buildings. Each explosion in the URBAN EXPLOSIONS CONSTRUCTION KIT comes with a minimum of 24 channels, including a 4 channel ambisonic file, so you can simply drag all channels to your DAW and easily mix the sound exactly as you want.

    Sweeteners
    You’re looking for a more supernatural sound or your mix misses a bit of impact, smack, punch, tail, cackling, rumbling or character? No problem, the CONSTRUCTION KIT has a lot of great high-quality sweeteners that will easily enrich your mix in the desired way.

    Urban Explosions Designed:

    Incredibly versatile
    Our DESIGNED edition comes with a myriad of ready-to-use explosion sound FX in the categories INDOOR, NEUTRAL & URBAN, each of them in SMALL, MEDIUM & LARGE explosion sizes. Beyond that, you have the choice between MEDIUM and FAR distances, FAST or SLOW explosions and a MODERN, SOFT, CRISP or DISTORTED character. With this range of sounds, you’re certainly sure to find the right one for your scene.

    Stereo & 5.1 Surround
    In addition to the stereo version our sound designers created 5.1 surround versions for each sound so you are fully prepared to implement your creative surround vision with ease.

    Designed by 4 Award-Winning Sound Designers
    We consider sound design as a craftsmanship and we’re very happy and proud to rely on the talent of four awesome sound designers that really know their trade.

    Urban Explosions Bundle:

    THE BUNDLE – The best of both worlds at a discounted price
    The Bundle gives you the full sound design power as it contains both – the DESIGNED and the CONSTRUCTION KIT edition at a discounted price.

 
Explore the full, unique collection here

Latest sound effects libraries:
 
  • Drones & Moods The Case Play Track 185 sounds included, 41 mins total $30 $10

    Need to create suspense, tension, action and mystery in your production? “The Case” is great for you.

    Like my library UNSOLVED this pack is Inspired by crime/investigation movies and series, and contains 185 sounds (Wav, 24 Bit / 48 kHz) aimed to enhance the tension and drama of movies, games, series, trailers and musical compositions.

    You will find deep Bass Loops, powerful Percussive Loops (kick, hi-hat, hits, metal), Cinematic Melodies and notes (synth, clean electric guitar, percussive piano) and Fx (soundscapes, atmospheric elements, drops, hits and impacts).

    You will get:

    • 37 bass loops
    • 37 cinematic melodies
    • 67 percussive elements
    • 44 Fx

    This library has a nice mixture of sound design and music. It can be used to create moments of suspense and tension from a sound designe perspective or from a musical perspective thanks to the bass/percussion loops and melodies.

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  • Drones & Moods Sonikscape Play Track 338 sounds included, 191 mins total $74

    SONIKSCAPE has been produced to create intense underscore, dark atmospheres and abstract textures.

    This collection comes packed with cinematic soundscapes, vocal atmospheres, textures out of processed flutes, ghost breaths and vocal effects, dark low oscillations and subsonic frequencies, bowed cymbals, psychological screech and more.

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    Sonikscape is a collaboration between SampleTraxx and German sound designer Sebastian Emling who already collaborated on Cinematic Zither and Old Broken Piano.

  • Destruction & Impact Rituals Play Track 550+ sounds included, 100 mins total $110 $85

    Rituals is a new toolbox of unique sounds and production elements, organic instruments and hybrid processing, highly stylized cinematic sound design to compose epic and sinister tracks with dark and ominous mood that brings visuals to another level.

    Rituals has been produced for the modern horror trailer style and suspence score with eerie violin fragments and phrases, sinister soundscapes, dramatic benders, destructive glitch, distorted synths, heavy hitting sound design elements, clocks and much more.

    Featuring 550 cutting edge sounds and 16 categories, this is a collaboration between composer, sound designer and electronic musician Si Begg and SampleTraxx.

     

    Categories:

    01 Tortured Strings
    02 Bender
    03 Feedback Larsen
    04 Horror Hits
    05 Pulsing Sub
    06 Tonal Objects
    07 Dark Event
    08 Dark Textures
    09 Flute Swells
    10 Horror Loops
    11 Low Hits
    12 Raw Synth – Bass
    13 Swell
    14 Riser
    15 Reverse
    16 Spare Noise
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  • Water & Oceans Ancient Sea Ruins Play Track 10 sounds included, 53 mins total $19.99 $14.99

    ANCIENT SEA RUINS is a collection of 10, high quality, detail-rich sea ambiences.
    Waves splashing on Roman ruins, gurgling, lapping, swells, water movement between rocks and more.

    Collection consist of 10 (53 min total time) high quality recordings (192kHz 24bit) of sea water traveling through old Roman ruins. Interesting and unique sounding wave patterns, gurgles, swells and wave collapsing onto one another. Many states of the sea from peaceful lapping and subtle gurgling to large swells.

    All the recording are free from city noises.

    All SFX have baked-in Soundminer’s meta data.

    LOCATION: Costa Blanca, ES
    RECORDED WITH: Sound Devices MixPre 6 + 2x Sennheiser MKH 8040 (ORTF)
    EDITED AND MASTERED WITH: Pro Tools, FabFilter.

    25 %
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  • Water & Oceans SHORES island Play Track 45 sounds included $54 $42.70

    SHORES island edition features both varieties of beaches and cliffs from Oshima island, Japan, and extra harbors & boats are also included.
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    Recorded with ortf, spaced omni, wide A-B and carefully edited.

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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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