• 1/4" Jack Of All Trades

Learning Spatial Audio Software

Updated: May 2, 2020

I recently started learning how to use the 3d audio software 'Sound Particles', an incredibly powerful piece of software that allows the user to treat audio in a 3d space in a simillar fashion to computer graphics. With the sharp rise in use of spatial audio, I felt that learning how to use such a unique tool would be both invaluable to my sonic practices (especially for interactive applications) and inexcusable given I am fortunate enough to have access to an educational liscence. However, as I was testing my current Unity endeavour Simulacra in 5.1 and 7.1 surround (before the global pandemic started) it is only a matter of time before I submit to the allure of this glorious audio software and purchase a full liscence.

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I found the software to be very user friendly and easy to pick up as I was already very familliar with granular synthesis and Unity's visual particle system, so many of the concepts were famillar to me such as the notion of 'particles' of sound, emission shape and particle velocity. Something that took me a little to get used to was the sheer size of the projects and the need for offline rendering, but this is to be expected when dealing with such huge numbers of audio sources: I used the 'stardust' template which features 2 particle emitters (random particle emission over time) operating at 40 particle/second and a particle group of 100 sources (simultaneous emission of all particles at once). The maximum number of particles for both types of audio sources is an eye watering 100,000 particles!

Screenshot of the offline render of my audio example in progress, featuring a high CPU load!

My first test was to see potential musical/ambient uses for the software and so for the sound sources I used some sci-fi type sound effects I had made for The Hill That Bleeds, some experiments with telephone pickup coils and some reversed piano notes with additional processing. The result that was done for purely educaitonal purposes (hence the private track) can be found bellow. In the future I would like to experiment with working to picture, perhaps taking a scene from a blockbuster movie involving heavy use of visual effects.

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