Guten Tag, VR!

A room full of people earing headphones listening to a binaural demo
There was a lot of headphone wearing this convention!

I’m in Berlin again for the first time in 8 years which means three things:

  1. They let me out of Galaxy Studios for a bit
  2. I’ve already eaten far more currywurst than is reasonable
  3. It’s AES time!!!

This week is the 142nd AES Convention and marks my second time attending (my first time was the 139th convention in New York city). It has been great to see some familiar faces including some of my friends from Norway and some of the rerecording engineers that have come into Galaxy during my time there.

This convention is much smaller than the one in New York City; but, there are no shortage of talks, especially in regards to ambisonics, binarual audio, multichannel audio and object based audio. In particular, Avid is showing off their new native Atmos mixing for Protools HD, which includes a heap of features. I have to say, the integration makes it more streamlined and seemingly easier to setup than the Auro 3D plugins; but, I still find Atmos limiting. The restriction to a 48kHz  sample rate and inability to place channel based audio in the top channels in very limiting for immersive music content, which is the greatest strength of Auro. For music, especially in film and games/VR, I strongly feel that Auro 3D is better; however, Atmos definitely has a lot of good applications particularly for broadcast. The fact that it can be rendered at play time to any system setup, and that certain objects can be switched out for user customization is really compelling and there are great examples of that being shown here by the BBC and Radio France in particular. It would be great to properly work with it someday!

Sennheiser also had a lot of talks promoting their new AMBEO line, which includes an ambisonics microphone and the KU 100 binaural microphone/dummy head. Dr. Jörg Sennheiser himself delivered the Heyser lecture, which outlined the journal of audio from mono applications to the modern day and beyond.

In fact, the whole event felt very future leaning, with many talks looking at the trials and tribulations of working with audio for VR, 360 video, and new approaches and applications for binaural recording including broadcast, enhancing descriptive video services, and improving monitoring systems for conductors. It’s started to get me thinking a lot more about when I’m done at Galaxy– I really love working with immersive audio, but the practicality is that it has to work on headphones– there aren’t many people that are able to set up a 9.1 studio in their home. I definitely can’t afford to myself, so if I want to listen to any of my 9.1 mixes again, I’ll need to render it on headphones!

This has all gotten me thinking a lot more about working with 360 video and VR as well. I think it’s time I dig into my computer science background and pull out those coding skills 😉