UPDATE : 4th May 2016 – I’ve added a video using the measured filters. This will be useful for auditioning the mixes before uploading them to YouTube.
So, I’ve been experimenting with YouTube’s Ambisonic to Binaural VR videos. They work, sound spacious and head tracking also functions (although there seems to be some lag, compared to the video – at least on my Sony Z3), but I thought I’d have a dig around and test how they’re implementing it to see what compromises they’ve made for mobile devices (as the localisation could be sharper…)
Cut to the chase – YouTube are using short, anechoic Head Related Transfer Functions that also assume that the head is symmetrical. Doing this means you can boil down the Ambisonics to Binaural algorithm to just four short Finite Impulse Response Filters that need convolving in real-time with the B-Format channels (W, X, Y & Z in Furse Malham/SoundField notation – I know YouTube uses ambiX, but I’m sticking with this for now!). These optimisations are likely needed to make the algorithm work on more mobile phones.
It’s always bugged me that the VU meters in Reaper are so small, which is particularly a problem if you’re working with large amounts of channels (which, when using Higher Order Ambisonics, is common!). So, I’ve knocked up a flexible multi-channel meter than can be made as big as you like so it should be useful for testing and monitoring when setting up etc..
The scaling is flexible (you can specify the minimum dB value to show) and so is the time window used for both the meter and the peak hold (which is individually held per channel). I’ve commented the code so if you don’t like the colour scheme etc. it should be a doddle for you to alter it yourself! The file can be downloaded below:
So, last week Google enabled head (phone!) tracked positional audio on 360 degree videos. Ambisonics is now one of the defacto standards for VR audio. This is a big moment! I’ve been playing a little with some of the command line tools needed to get this to work, and also with using Google PhotoSphere pics as the video as, currently, I don’t have access to a proper 360 degree camera. You’ll end up with something like this: