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360° Ambisonics Tools Tutorial

Oct 10, 2017 | 73,081 Views

Get started mixing and monitoring Ambisonics B-format audio for 360 and VR projects: learn the basic step-by-step workflow with the B360 and Nx plugins.

The B360 Ambisonics Encoder plugin is used to transform standard formats into a four-channel Ambisonics B-format audio stream. You will use it primarily to create ambisonic mixes while monitoring your mix on headphones through Nx Ambisonics, a component of the Nx Virtual Mix Room plugin.

Scenario 1: Setting up a session for mixing ambisonics and monitoring

For the most part, mixing for Ambisonics is the same as conventional mixing; only controlling imaging and monitoring are different.

  1. Insert B360 on each playback track of your session. The B360 will open the correct component based on the channel type (mono, stereo, 7.1, etc.). Note: when working with Cubase or Nuendo, you must create a track of four channels or larger, even when the source material is mono or stereo. The B360 must be the last insert on each playback track. You cannot perform any processing downstream of the B360.
  2. Add plugins to tracks as you like. EQ, dynamic, and noise reduction plugins will not interfere with the Ambisonics process, as long as they are placed before B360 in the processing chain. Do not use panners or imaging processors at this time.
  3. Create a Quad track. This can be the mix master or a monitor buss. Route each of the playback tracks to this buss. This is your ambisonic mix track.
  4. Insert an Nx Ambisonics plugin on this track. This enables Ambisonics monitoring, along with head tracking. Adjust Nx to suit your listening preferences. You can use the Nx plugin without head tracking, although the spherical sound experience is more satisfying with head tracking. Please refer to the Nx Virtual Mix Room user guide for details. You are now ready to monitor the mix.
  5. Mix your project as you normally do. Use as many plugins as needed. Control the track’s width, rotation, and elevation with the B360 images tools. Remember, B360 must be the last insert in each playback track. Ambisonics B-format files require specialized tools for processing. Since phase is a critical component, the four channels must remain precisely time- and gain-aligned during processing.

Scenario 2: Adding new mix elements to an existing ambisonic mix

You can add new, non-ambisonic elements to one (or more) existing ambisonic mixes. The mixing setup is the same as described above, except that the original ambisonic track now becomes a playback element. The new sounds are mixed against this track. Route the existing ambisonic track and the new added mix elements to the same four-channel master buss.

This technique is useful for creating a customized or localized version of a project, or for addling new details to a previously mixed ambisonic soundscape. For example, imagine you are creating a local language version of a VR game. The atmosphere and detail SFX are already in place in the ambisonic mix. Record, edit, and process the voices as you like and then place them in the mix using the B360 imagers. The new voice elements will fall precisely where you want them to be and they will sit in the mix quite comfortably.