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:

  • Ambisonics Ambisonic – Transportation Play Track 68 sounds included, 314 mins total $136

    Ambisonic – Transportation is a great collection of ambisonic ambiences recordings performed at various transportation scenarios.
    It is aimed to provide you with great spherical content to wrap your dialogue or main focus content, allowing you to create a conniving and immersing soundtrack.
    You will find recordings such as a Train car interior, Jumbo jet interior, multiple cars interior under different driving conditions,
    Bus interior, public transportation stations and much more.

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

    A Sennheiser Ambeo microphone paired with Zoom H8 was used to create this product.

    This package includes 68 Samples – 136 Files.
    A total 2h 37m of content.
    First Order AmbiX B-Format and Stereo @ 96Khz / 24bit.

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

    Add to cart
  • Ambisonics Geothermal Play Track 50+ sounds included, 142+ mins total From: $59

    GEOTHERMAL – 3D SURROUND AMBIENCES:

    Yellowstone National Park, this library transports the listener to someplace far away from Earth – although sounds represent the primal geological processes of our beautiful planet.

    Whether you are designing for daunting underground environments or films somewhere else in our solar system, draw from the rich sonic details in this collection and fill your fictional realm with uniqueness and character – all in incredibly immersive 3D SURROUND!

    IDEAL CONDITIONS – EXCELLENT QUALITY

    GEOTHERMAL was recorded at night in order to eliminate bird, tourism and transport noises.

    The result is a pristine, authentic toolkit with which to sketch out, layer and shape environments and products of your imagination (or project briefing).

    EARTHLY, YET ALIEN

    GEOTHERMAL grants a sonic glimpse at the massive, seething processes continuously happening deep inside Mother Earth. Hostile underground environments, hellish scenes or extraterrestrial landscapes come to mind when immersing yourself in the sound.

    This library is a true asset in the hands of the creative: Bring the unusual to life and embellish your designs with the almost uncanny details of the audio material available in GEOTHERMAL.

    INCLUDING STEREO VERSION

    In addition to the ORTF-3D files, the 3D SURROUND edition also contains all files in 2.0 stereo for your convenience to save time on unnecessary conversions. Instead, you can instantly use these great new sounds for all your projects that don’t require surround sound.

    TECH SPECS:

    Files: 89
    Size: 15+ GB; 20+ GB (incl. Stereo version)
    Content Info: PDF + XLS
    Format WAV – 24bit – 96kHz / Windows + Mac
    Track Layout Lo: L • R • Ls • Rs; Hi: Lh • Rh • LSh • RSh

    STEREO VERSION:

    SAME QUALITY, SAME CONTENT

    You don’t want to miss the excellent GEOTHERMAL source recordings, but don’t necessarily require the surround version? We offer the same recordings in the same quality in our stereo version at a lower price.

    TECH SPECS:

    Files: 33
    Size: 4+ GB
    Content Info: PDF + XLS
    Format: WAV – 24bit – 96kHz / Windows + Mac

  • Ambisonics Ford Fusion Plus Ambisonics Play Track 50 sounds included $50

    A full library of recordings from a 2009 Ford Fusion Plus with a 1.6 litre Duratec petrol engine. Includes door opens and closes, windows up and down, seatbelts, switches, buttons, engine turn key, start and idle, revs and more. Recordings made using Sennheiser MKH416, 8050 and Rode NT5 mics into a Zoom F8 and F4, plus some additional recordings using a JRF contact mic.

    Also includes three 7+ minute continuous driving interior ambisonics (Ambix B format) recordings with synced mono engine bay recordings. Covering turn key and start, driving through the countryside up to 60mph on dual carriageway, into the city and stopping. Made with Sennheiser Ambeo and ME2 mics.

    If you need a no-nonsense, great quality library of an ordinary car, not a fancy flashy sports car as I often do, then this is the library for you! Everything is delivered in 24 Bit / 192 kHz making it useful for sound design purposes too. Need a massive metal impact? Pitch down one of those doors!

    All files contain extensive metadata in both Soundminer and BWAV formats.

    Add to cart
  • Ambisonics Volkswagen Passat 1.9 TDI 1996 Play Track 75 sounds included $50 $30

    Volkswagen Passat 1.9 TDI is our new library. This time we recorded this classic car with several mics all around!

    • Ambeo VR mic for all the interior takes.
    • Sennheiser MKH416P48 (depending the take from the interior and Exterior).
    • Sony D50 ST handheld recorder for the outside.
    • LOM Usi Pro for the exhaust pipe.
    • Sennheiser MKE2 Gold for the Engine.


    All the recordings are made in sync of all the mics. You can even import the attached Pro Tools Sesion in order to get all the tracks in sync.

    Another way to get this library:
    Also included in the Surround Sound LAB Complete Bundle, featuring 25+ SFX libraries at a huge discount.

     

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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 $48

    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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  • Ambisonics Ambisonic – Transportation Play Track 68 sounds included, 314 mins total $136

    Ambisonic – Transportation is a great collection of ambisonic ambiences recordings performed at various transportation scenarios.
    It is aimed to provide you with great spherical content to wrap your dialogue or main focus content, allowing you to create a conniving and immersing soundtrack.
    You will find recordings such as a Train car interior, Jumbo jet interior, multiple cars interior under different driving conditions,
    Bus interior, public transportation stations and much more.

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

    A Sennheiser Ambeo microphone paired with Zoom H8 was used to create this product.

    This package includes 68 Samples – 136 Files.
    A total 2h 37m of content.
    First Order AmbiX B-Format and Stereo @ 96Khz / 24bit.

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

    Add to cart
  • Ambisonics 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

  • Aircraft - Jet/Propeller Planes Ambisonic Airplane Cessna 172 Play Track 17 sounds included, 144 mins total $19.99 $10.99

    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 $109 $87

    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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  • Ambisonics Ambisonic Audiences Play Track 133+ sounds included $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
  • Ambisonics 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
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:  
  • Cars Hyundai Kona Electric Car Play Track 428 sounds included, 98 mins total $100

    An electric car sound library with a range of FX from the Hyundai SUV, Kona.

    The library includes numerous driving FX on both gravel and asphalt including pass-bys, take offs, corners, approaches and skids.

    It also contains a large range of interior recordings from driving at highway speed all the way to buttons and switches.

    Multiple FX on each track – recorded in Sydney, Australia

    Add to cart
  • Cars Car Interiors Play Track 430 sounds included, 14 mins total $69 $38

    car interiors library is a great supplement for all the car engine sounds that you already own. That way the action on the inside of the car is not stale at all. Dashboard buttons, seatbelts, automatic windows, switches, switching gears, brake, clutch and gas pedals, vents, turning signals. They’re all here!

    Got a whole bunch of roaring car engine sounds but then realised that you’re not equipped with all of the boring stuff like:


    car door handles, seatbelts, turn signal, air vents, buttons and switches, seats, storage compartments, horns, windows, pedals (gas, brake, clutch), handbrakes wend

    and all other Car Interior sound effects? Well then.. look no further! This is just the pack for you.
    160 wav files with over 400 single sounds in total. Car Interiors will spice up that car interior scene with real, crisp sounds, recorded from over 6 cars in total!

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  • Destruction & Impact Cinematic Strikes Play Track Up to 4140 sounds included From: $119 From: $95.20

    ENORMOUS SOUNDING PERCUSSIVE HITS

    CINEMATIC STRIKES joins the BOOM Library Cinematic Series – and it focuses on big sounding drums. A whole world of cinematic percussive sound design lies a few clicks away: From devastating cracks and stomps over crisp swells and rolls to epic ensemble hits – you will be sure to find and build just what you are looking for.

    With the ultimate flexibility of different microphone positions, single and ensemble hits, flams and swells using various drums and beaters, you couldn’t be better equipped to design huge blockbuster and trailer hits – or simply place ready-to-use DESIGNED sounds into your timeline and feel the earth shake.

    CINEMATIC STRIKES – CONSTRUCTION KIT:

    FLEXIBLE SOUND DESIGN TOOLKIT

    The Construction Kit offers you one of the most comprehensive drum hit packages ever recorded. Carefully planned to satisfy and complement every spot in the frequency range, you will never run out of low end booms, aggressive cracks, mid-range body impacts, reverberant tails and excellent sweeteners to top it off.

    PERSPECTIVE & RHYTHM

    Not only are you able to produce impressive sounding hits, but also transition into, out of and between peaks. Control the attack and release of each sound, using rolls, flams, double hits and other meticulously performed techniques. Three coherent microphone positions make spatial adjustments a breeze.


    Files: 618 • Sounds: 3708 • Size: 13 GB


    CINEMATIC STRIKES – DESIGNED:

    MAXIMUM PUNCH – AND THEN SOME

    CINEMATIC STRIKES – Designed is what you get when layering and processing Construction Kit sounds BOOM Library style.

    From rumbling low-end BOOMS, soft and natural sounding WHOOSH HITS to aggressive, frontal CRACKS and PUNCHES, the Designed library showcases what’s possible, while saving precious time and budget on a tight schedule.

    This package is particularly useful for filmmakers and trailer sound designers.


    Files: 108 • Sounds: 432 • Size: 1.4 GB

    CINEMATIC STRIKES 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.


    Files: 726 • Sounds: 4140 • Size: 14.6 GB
    Included sounds – keywords:

    BASS DRUM, BOOM, BOX, CAJON, CONCERT TOM, CRACK, CRASH, DAIKO, DOUBLE HIT, ENSEMBLE, FLAM, FOOT, GONG, HARD BEATER, HIT, JAM BLOCK, KICK, KODO, LOG, MALLET, BIN, PUNCH, ROLL, SINGLE, SNARE, SOFT BEATER, SPLASH, STICKS, STOMP, SWEETENER, SWELL, TABLA, TAIKO, TAMBORA, THUNDER SHEET, TOM, WHIP, WHOOSH HIT, WOOD PERCUSSION, WOODBLOCK
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  • Destruction & Impact Implosion Play Track 42 sounds included $100 $70

    Implosion is a sound effects collection of buildings being destroyed with explosives. It features 10 unique building implosions recorded across the country.

    Each implosion was recorded with 4 to 14 channels of audio. To offer multiple perspectives, mics were placed as close as 150ft (~50m) and as far away as 2000ft (~600m) from the various explosive demolitions.

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  • Drones & Moods Audible Silence Play Track 105 sounds included, 170 mins total $80 $64

    The eerie sound of wind resonating through wires, fences and abandoned buildings.

    Recorded using the JrF C-Series contact microphone, these recordings capture the metallic resonance of wind with natural ebbs and flows.

    All sounds were recorded using the JrF C-Series contact microphone stereo pair and Sound Devices Mix-Pre 6.

     

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A Sound Effect Turns 5:
Get wild deals on sound effects right here


Crazy 1-day only deals:
Interested in any of these offers? Better get them while you can, as the discount is reduced by 20% every day, over the next few days:
  • Aircraft - Jet/Propeller Planes B-25 Mitchell Play Track 115 sounds included, 71 mins total $199 $99.50

    A large collection of authentic B-25 flybys, takeoffs, landings, taxis, startups, and shutdowns with both internal and external perspectives – for a total of 71 minutes of recordings.

    This library was over 8 years in the making, and is the refined result of more than 30 field recording expeditions, including one recorded aboard a B-25 during flight. All sounds have been extensively quantified with metadata (action, event length, relative speed, perspective, microphone pattern, and much more) which will make it an ideal resource for those working in audio post production.

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  • Cars Cars In Motion Play Track 561+ sounds included, 340 mins total $150 $75

    The Cars In Motion sound library gets you exterior sounds of cars driving at different speeds, slow/medium/fast/very fast pass-bys, reverse sounds, accelerations, braking sounds and a lot of additional files. You’ll find different engines, and cars with different character.

    From a small BMW 114i through to a powerful Jeep Grand Cherokee 4.7 V8 with Magna Flow exhaust, up to a fast twin turbo BMW 640D F12. In addition to cars there are also files covering big machines like tractors and excavator.

    The library features 561 WAV files with total length of 340 minutes, recorded in 96kHz and 24 bits with a Sound Devices 702, two Sennheisers MKH 8040, Rode NTG3 and Sony PCM-M10.

    Here are the cars included in this library:

    • Audi A4 Allroad 2.0 TFSI – 73 files – 73 minutes
    • Audi A4 B8 2.0 TDI Avant – 11 files – 10 minutes
    • BMW 114i E87 – 20 files – 10 minutes
    • BMW 530D E60 – 55 files – 21 minutes
    • BMW F12 640D Gran Coupe – 87 files – 49 minutes
    • Excavator MF 860 – 30 files – 20 minutes
    • Jeep Grand Cherokee 4.7 V8 – 62 files – 51 minutes
    • Renault Kangoo 1.6 16V – 71 files – 32 minutes
    • Renault Master II 2.8 dTi – 21 files – 13 minutes
    • Renault Master F3500 dCi135 – 30 files – 12 minutes
    • Tractor Case II CX90 – 15 files – 10 minutes
    • Volkswagen Golf II – 26 files – 13 minutes
    • Other Cars – 60 files – 23 minutes

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  • City Life Nature Ambients Bundle Play Track 263+ sounds included, 683 mins total $160 $80

    This bundle includes 4 different libraries.

    The Baltic Sea sound library is compilation of 56 WAV files recorded with Sound Devices 702, Rode NTG3, Sony PCM-M10, two Oktavas MK012 set in MS, XY and ORTF setup. All the sounds were recorded far away from the cities and roads. Since most of the sounds were recorded in late winter, there are no insects or birds in background. There are few files that includes the sound of birds, but I left them on purpose, because of the overall feel of the files. In this library you will find beautiful sound of waves crushing on the rocks and shore, recorded from different perspectives in different stereo configurations, during calm and windy days. In addition to those sounds, there’s foley like walking, running and swimming in the water.

    The Harbours Of Norway sound library features 25 files with ambients recorded in Myre, Sto and Nyksund, very small towns with direct access to the sea. Most of the sound effects were recorded at night, but since it’s a polar day time of the year, it was very pleasurable to walk and look for convenient places to set up my gear. Everything was recoded with ORTF setup built from two Sennheisers MKH 8040. Inside this library, you’ll find a lot of seagulls, waves crushing on the rocks and plants, windy ambients from the cliff, industrial sound from port in Myre with ship unloading the cargo, walla with steam engine boat and additional sounds from boat engine market and air cooling aggregates from food containers. Every file was recorded in 96kHz, edited (i removed any unintentional bumps, pops and unwanted sounds). I limited EQing to removing harsh frequencies, or enhancing a little bit the good sounding ones. At the end of the chain there is a small compression, for louder sounds.

    The Summer Ambients sound library contains 33 beautiful WAV files recorded with Sound Devices 702, Rode NTG3, two Oktavas MK012 in MS and stereo XY pattern. All sounds were gathered in different and beautiful places like forests, lakes, meadows or swamps. You can expect amazing ambients, textures, different birds, insects, forest during rain, calm and windy days. It’s a perfect library for designing background sounds. Everything was recorded in amazing Masuria in Poland.

    Summer ambients Update – library got 2x bigger and heavier than the original library. 59 additional files, 123 minutes of high quality audio recorded with Sennheiser MKH 8040 ORTF setup, Rode NTG3, Oktava MK012 XY setup plugged into SD702 and Sony PCM-10. It features ambients from the forests, ponds, swamps, meadows, lakes and suburbs recorded is very quiet locations, mostly just before the sunrise, during the day and before sunset far away from the cities.

    Water Flow sound library took me about six months to record, consumed about 15 thermoses of tea and 42 litres of gasoline to get to all locations. It offers 90 BWAV files recorded in different locations. Huge part of this library is based on the recording sessions on the rivers. Two completely different locations, recorded regularly for the last 5 months allowed me to create this unique sound library. Most of the recording sessions took place during winter just before the sun was rising to reduce the amount of unwanted sounds. Almost all recordings are completely clear and only few have birds in background, since it was my intention to record some location ambients with natural backgrounds.

    You can see the metadata and sound list below.

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  • Environments Rare Winds Play Track 102 sounds included, 233 mins total $149 $74.50

    From all 4 earth’s corners, air streamlines the environment and shapes our stories. Discover the cinematic world of rare winds!


    This sound library is the ultimate achievement of a really ambitious project of recording winds from very remote places across the world.

    Included are authentic recordings from the Boreal region (North hemisphere: in Canada and Iceland), from the Austral region (South hemisphere: Tierra del Fuego in Argentina and the Last Hope province in Chile), on Islands in Mediterranean region (Thira in Greece), in the Sahara desert (Marocco), Isle-aux-Grues (Canadian winter), and more (see file list for more details)


    These were recorded either in urban settings, countryside, or complete wilderness.

    Included is a set of useful synthesized, tonal, and designed winds.

    The sounds are categorized into 3 folders: Designed, Indoor & Outdoor.

    WHAT’S INSIDE:

    • 102 stereo files
    • Highly focused and meticulously edited sounds
    • Ready to use Loop
    • Urban area and Wild area
    • Useful Designed & Synthesized Wind Sounds
    • Recordings from the Boreal region (North) in Iceland & Canada
    • Recordings from the Austral region (South) in Argentina & Chile
    • Recordings from Islands in Greece & Canada
    • Recordings from the desert in Marocco
    • Abandonned houses and shelters
    • Marina, lake, forest, car, flags, arctic, metal pole, prairie, street, mountain, grass, …
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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.

 
 

Please share this:


 

 
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:
 
 
  • Environments Rare Winds Play Track 102 sounds included, 233 mins total $149 $74.50

    From all 4 earth’s corners, air streamlines the environment and shapes our stories. Discover the cinematic world of rare winds!


    This sound library is the ultimate achievement of a really ambitious project of recording winds from very remote places across the world.

    Included are authentic recordings from the Boreal region (North hemisphere: in Canada and Iceland), from the Austral region (South hemisphere: Tierra del Fuego in Argentina and the Last Hope province in Chile), on Islands in Mediterranean region (Thira in Greece), in the Sahara desert (Marocco), Isle-aux-Grues (Canadian winter), and more (see file list for more details)


    These were recorded either in urban settings, countryside, or complete wilderness.

    Included is a set of useful synthesized, tonal, and designed winds.

    The sounds are categorized into 3 folders: Designed, Indoor & Outdoor.

    WHAT’S INSIDE:

    • 102 stereo files
    • Highly focused and meticulously edited sounds
    • Ready to use Loop
    • Urban area and Wild area
    • Useful Designed & Synthesized Wind Sounds
    • Recordings from the Boreal region (North) in Iceland & Canada
    • Recordings from the Austral region (South) in Argentina & Chile
    • Recordings from Islands in Greece & Canada
    • Recordings from the desert in Marocco
    • Abandonned houses and shelters
    • Marina, lake, forest, car, flags, arctic, metal pole, prairie, street, mountain, grass, …
    50 %
    OFF
    Ends 1574463599
    Add to cart
  • City Life Nature Ambients Bundle Play Track 263+ sounds included, 683 mins total $160 $80

    This bundle includes 4 different libraries.

    The Baltic Sea sound library is compilation of 56 WAV files recorded with Sound Devices 702, Rode NTG3, Sony PCM-M10, two Oktavas MK012 set in MS, XY and ORTF setup. All the sounds were recorded far away from the cities and roads. Since most of the sounds were recorded in late winter, there are no insects or birds in background. There are few files that includes the sound of birds, but I left them on purpose, because of the overall feel of the files. In this library you will find beautiful sound of waves crushing on the rocks and shore, recorded from different perspectives in different stereo configurations, during calm and windy days. In addition to those sounds, there’s foley like walking, running and swimming in the water.

    The Harbours Of Norway sound library features 25 files with ambients recorded in Myre, Sto and Nyksund, very small towns with direct access to the sea. Most of the sound effects were recorded at night, but since it’s a polar day time of the year, it was very pleasurable to walk and look for convenient places to set up my gear. Everything was recoded with ORTF setup built from two Sennheisers MKH 8040. Inside this library, you’ll find a lot of seagulls, waves crushing on the rocks and plants, windy ambients from the cliff, industrial sound from port in Myre with ship unloading the cargo, walla with steam engine boat and additional sounds from boat engine market and air cooling aggregates from food containers. Every file was recorded in 96kHz, edited (i removed any unintentional bumps, pops and unwanted sounds). I limited EQing to removing harsh frequencies, or enhancing a little bit the good sounding ones. At the end of the chain there is a small compression, for louder sounds.

    The Summer Ambients sound library contains 33 beautiful WAV files recorded with Sound Devices 702, Rode NTG3, two Oktavas MK012 in MS and stereo XY pattern. All sounds were gathered in different and beautiful places like forests, lakes, meadows or swamps. You can expect amazing ambients, textures, different birds, insects, forest during rain, calm and windy days. It’s a perfect library for designing background sounds. Everything was recorded in amazing Masuria in Poland.

    Summer ambients Update – library got 2x bigger and heavier than the original library. 59 additional files, 123 minutes of high quality audio recorded with Sennheiser MKH 8040 ORTF setup, Rode NTG3, Oktava MK012 XY setup plugged into SD702 and Sony PCM-10. It features ambients from the forests, ponds, swamps, meadows, lakes and suburbs recorded is very quiet locations, mostly just before the sunrise, during the day and before sunset far away from the cities.

    Water Flow sound library took me about six months to record, consumed about 15 thermoses of tea and 42 litres of gasoline to get to all locations. It offers 90 BWAV files recorded in different locations. Huge part of this library is based on the recording sessions on the rivers. Two completely different locations, recorded regularly for the last 5 months allowed me to create this unique sound library. Most of the recording sessions took place during winter just before the sun was rising to reduce the amount of unwanted sounds. Almost all recordings are completely clear and only few have birds in background, since it was my intention to record some location ambients with natural backgrounds.

    You can see the metadata and sound list below.

    50 %
    OFF
    Ends 1574463599
    Add to cart
  • Cars Cars In Motion Play Track 561+ sounds included, 340 mins total $150 $75

    The Cars In Motion sound library gets you exterior sounds of cars driving at different speeds, slow/medium/fast/very fast pass-bys, reverse sounds, accelerations, braking sounds and a lot of additional files. You’ll find different engines, and cars with different character.

    From a small BMW 114i through to a powerful Jeep Grand Cherokee 4.7 V8 with Magna Flow exhaust, up to a fast twin turbo BMW 640D F12. In addition to cars there are also files covering big machines like tractors and excavator.

    The library features 561 WAV files with total length of 340 minutes, recorded in 96kHz and 24 bits with a Sound Devices 702, two Sennheisers MKH 8040, Rode NTG3 and Sony PCM-M10.

    Here are the cars included in this library:

    • Audi A4 Allroad 2.0 TFSI – 73 files – 73 minutes
    • Audi A4 B8 2.0 TDI Avant – 11 files – 10 minutes
    • BMW 114i E87 – 20 files – 10 minutes
    • BMW 530D E60 – 55 files – 21 minutes
    • BMW F12 640D Gran Coupe – 87 files – 49 minutes
    • Excavator MF 860 – 30 files – 20 minutes
    • Jeep Grand Cherokee 4.7 V8 – 62 files – 51 minutes
    • Renault Kangoo 1.6 16V – 71 files – 32 minutes
    • Renault Master II 2.8 dTi – 21 files – 13 minutes
    • Renault Master F3500 dCi135 – 30 files – 12 minutes
    • Tractor Case II CX90 – 15 files – 10 minutes
    • Volkswagen Golf II – 26 files – 13 minutes
    • Other Cars – 60 files – 23 minutes

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Explore the full, unique collection here

Latest sound effects libraries:
 
  • Cars Hyundai Kona Electric Car Play Track 428 sounds included, 98 mins total $100

    An electric car sound library with a range of FX from the Hyundai SUV, Kona.

    The library includes numerous driving FX on both gravel and asphalt including pass-bys, take offs, corners, approaches and skids.

    It also contains a large range of interior recordings from driving at highway speed all the way to buttons and switches.

    Multiple FX on each track – recorded in Sydney, Australia

  • Cars Car Interiors Play Track 430 sounds included, 14 mins total $69 $38

    car interiors library is a great supplement for all the car engine sounds that you already own. That way the action on the inside of the car is not stale at all. Dashboard buttons, seatbelts, automatic windows, switches, switching gears, brake, clutch and gas pedals, vents, turning signals. They’re all here!

    Got a whole bunch of roaring car engine sounds but then realised that you’re not equipped with all of the boring stuff like:


    car door handles, seatbelts, turn signal, air vents, buttons and switches, seats, storage compartments, horns, windows, pedals (gas, brake, clutch), handbrakes wend

    and all other Car Interior sound effects? Well then.. look no further! This is just the pack for you.
    160 wav files with over 400 single sounds in total. Car Interiors will spice up that car interior scene with real, crisp sounds, recorded from over 6 cars in total!

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  • Destruction & Impact Cinematic Strikes Play Track Up to 4140 sounds included From: $119 From: $95.20

    ENORMOUS SOUNDING PERCUSSIVE HITS

    CINEMATIC STRIKES joins the BOOM Library Cinematic Series – and it focuses on big sounding drums. A whole world of cinematic percussive sound design lies a few clicks away: From devastating cracks and stomps over crisp swells and rolls to epic ensemble hits – you will be sure to find and build just what you are looking for.

    With the ultimate flexibility of different microphone positions, single and ensemble hits, flams and swells using various drums and beaters, you couldn’t be better equipped to design huge blockbuster and trailer hits – or simply place ready-to-use DESIGNED sounds into your timeline and feel the earth shake.

    CINEMATIC STRIKES – CONSTRUCTION KIT:

    FLEXIBLE SOUND DESIGN TOOLKIT

    The Construction Kit offers you one of the most comprehensive drum hit packages ever recorded. Carefully planned to satisfy and complement every spot in the frequency range, you will never run out of low end booms, aggressive cracks, mid-range body impacts, reverberant tails and excellent sweeteners to top it off.

    PERSPECTIVE & RHYTHM

    Not only are you able to produce impressive sounding hits, but also transition into, out of and between peaks. Control the attack and release of each sound, using rolls, flams, double hits and other meticulously performed techniques. Three coherent microphone positions make spatial adjustments a breeze.


    Files: 618 • Sounds: 3708 • Size: 13 GB


    CINEMATIC STRIKES – DESIGNED:

    MAXIMUM PUNCH – AND THEN SOME

    CINEMATIC STRIKES – Designed is what you get when layering and processing Construction Kit sounds BOOM Library style.

    From rumbling low-end BOOMS, soft and natural sounding WHOOSH HITS to aggressive, frontal CRACKS and PUNCHES, the Designed library showcases what’s possible, while saving precious time and budget on a tight schedule.

    This package is particularly useful for filmmakers and trailer sound designers.


    Files: 108 • Sounds: 432 • Size: 1.4 GB

    CINEMATIC STRIKES 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.


    Files: 726 • Sounds: 4140 • Size: 14.6 GB
    Included sounds – keywords:

    BASS DRUM, BOOM, BOX, CAJON, CONCERT TOM, CRACK, CRASH, DAIKO, DOUBLE HIT, ENSEMBLE, FLAM, FOOT, GONG, HARD BEATER, HIT, JAM BLOCK, KICK, KODO, LOG, MALLET, BIN, PUNCH, ROLL, SINGLE, SNARE, SOFT BEATER, SPLASH, STICKS, STOMP, SWEETENER, SWELL, TABLA, TAIKO, TAMBORA, THUNDER SHEET, TOM, WHIP, WHOOSH HIT, WOOD PERCUSSION, WOODBLOCK
    20 %
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    Ends 1575500399
  • Destruction & Impact Implosion Play Track 42 sounds included $100 $70

    Implosion is a sound effects collection of buildings being destroyed with explosives. It features 10 unique building implosions recorded across the country.

    Each implosion was recorded with 4 to 14 channels of audio. To offer multiple perspectives, mics were placed as close as 150ft (~50m) and as far away as 2000ft (~600m) from the various explosive demolitions.

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  • Drones & Moods Audible Silence Play Track 105 sounds included, 170 mins total $80 $64

    The eerie sound of wind resonating through wires, fences and abandoned buildings.

    Recorded using the JrF C-Series contact microphone, these recordings capture the metallic resonance of wind with natural ebbs and flows.

    All sounds were recorded using the JrF C-Series contact microphone stereo pair and Sound Devices Mix-Pre 6.

     

    20 %
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    Ends 1574549999
 
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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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