Ambisonic is a format that’s getting a lot of attention lately. And for good reason! Ambisonic lets you record audio in full 360 degree surround. For VR being able to precisely control the soundfield is amazing. More and more libraries are being released in ambisonic formats, and cheaper devices are being used for their capture. A Sound Effect has a good non-technical primer, or Wikipedia has a more in-depth version.

The SurroundZone plugin allows you to decode the b-format raw audio into 5.1(or higher). You may not want to print the output in Soundminer(or maybe you do!), but i’ve been getting lots of queries about it so thought i’d do a little write up.

The most important thing is the ChannelLayout field. Soundminer doesn’t know its a b-format file so will probably assume its a L/R/Ls/Rs quad file. This will mess up the inputs to the plugin as the video below demonstrates. The low down is you want to clear the ChannelLayout field. Then, to ensure the playback engine picks up the change, either hit “return” or toggle off and back onto the record for it to setup all the plugins and output channels.

v4.5Pro v228 will add more support for printing with the SurroundZone plugin, and doing things like I’ve done in the video(using waves nx to create a binaural mixdown). It’ll also do some smarter things with looking at the last plugin to determine the number of channels it should create. So in this example I would have a 4 channel source file going into SurroundZone to make a 6 channel file, feeding into NX which is then outputting two channels. So my end result would be a stereo file. If I bypassed or removed NX, I would get a 5.1 file

There are a few oddities with the SurroundZone plugin. For one it doesn’t advertise it’s channel outputs format. I was hoping I could read the state of the output format dropdown to know the output format, but unfortunately its not exposed. This would only be an issue if you are using another multichannel plugin after this one. In which case you should always opt to use the x.1 version (so typically 5.1). If you don’t you’ll find that from Ls/Rs onwards the channels are shifted down.

SurroundZone Downloads

The Sennheiser plugin Ambeo, advertises it wants its input to be L/R/Ls/Rs. So in Soundminer if you change your A-Order files' ChannelLayout to that, then you’ll get 4 channels into the plugin.

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