Music & Tech & Posts by José Luis Miralles

#1 – 360 Audio Journey

THE JOURNEY STARTS

I’m going to start a new adventure in 360 audio and I plan to write down here my journey notes.

So today is the very first note of this new post category. I recently received my brand-new Zoom H3-VR and I think we are going to have a lot of fun playing arround with weird audio stuff.

In our first day we have done a walk arround our neighborhood (below a pic from 2 minute walk from my house)

And we visit a special place, where time ago was also an inspirational location for creative video-editing used in my personal performance of George Crumb Dream Images (from Makrokosmos suite).

So I tested some of the different recording formats of the Zoom H3-VR event whithout knowing what exactly was each one of the extrange names: FuMa (no idea), AmbiX (maybe from Ambisonic?), Ambisonic A (yeah, ambisonic!), Stereo (of course this is an old-friend of mine) and also Binaural (the name of spatial audio listened by headphones, or not?).

I should admit is not my very first introduction in the realm of “beyond the Left and Right channels”. My previous adventure was with “Trazos nocturnos” a single featured by the famous youtuber Jaime Altozano.

Here you can listen the whole track with mandatory headphones in order to listen the 8D/binaural effect. In the video is also showed the tweaking of the knobs from the AMBEO Orbit binaural panner which was used.

So, after this digression, we should return to our raw audio recorded files.

When inspecting the files in my computer, Zoom has a companion-app for listening and easy decoding options of our recently recorded tracks.

You can download the app here

So, with the app we have:

  • The file names with their relative format
  • If we choose an Ambisonics A file we can convert it to Ambisonics B format (and choose between FuMa and AmbiX). So we can start to understand there are two Ambisonics format: A and B (and FuMa and Ambix are part of B, ok!).
  • IMPORTANT: We are not “coping” the files to the app. We are only referencing them, so if we delete the original files, they will desapear forever!
  • We can invoque a contextual menu to show up more info about the file (created time, size, length, sample rate, bit depth, audio format or even mic position!)
  • We can listen the file, trim and export (at the bottom controls of the app). But, listen in which format? and export? We’ll see in a second.
  • The listening mode (at the top of the app) tell us in which listening mode we are sending the signal flow to our audio output device (top-left control of the app) and AT THE SAME TIME in which format we are exporting when clicking export (bottom-right of the app).

So, let’s check a little about this listening/exporting formats:

So, it seems entering into the 360 audio world needs a strong knowledge about very different formats (we’ll take care of that in future posts).

The Zoom app helps us to listen in different ways (I asume that you need a physically 5.1 suround home system in order to truly listen the surround output generated by the app) and also to export from any Ambisonic (A or B) format for any stereo, binaural, and surround format.

Hey! Wait a minute! An what the hell is Custom LR?

Acording to zoom app manual: Converts Ambisonics A or B to Stereo, but you can set the left and right listening positions to any location in the 360 degree soundfield.

We didn’t talk about the transpose area. The big blue-green ball. When choosing any Ambisonic format we can play-arround and create our head-movements inside this 360 sphere of sound. So when exporting to the non-ambisonics formats we can choose the position of “our ears” irrespective from the “face” of our H3 mic. So in the Custom LR you can EVEN CHOOSE “independent” positions of our respectives R and L ears. WOW!

Well, we should end our first step in this journey for today.

Next chapters will be about discovering how to open and listen all this stuff in my Logic and Ableton suites. I don’t know yet how exactly to do that, but I’ll figure out how in the 2 post of this journey.

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