Working with Immersive Sound Design – Five Tips From MrAud.io

MrAud.io shares five tips on how to get started with immersive sound. See our 2-Part Interview with MrAud.io here: Part 1 | Part 2.

Going beyond the stereo field has a lot of considerations to bear in mind, and given that he works as an immersive technologist as well as a composer and sound designer, who better to get some (surround) sound advice from? Read on below!

1.) Start in Headphones

With renderers such as the Dolby Atmos Production Suite and the L-Acoustics L-ISA Studio, the sound stage can be presented quite convincingly with binaural processing. Even without breaking the bank by installing dozens of loudspeakers, you have all the tools you need to get started in spatial audio with just a simple pair of studio headphones. I have completed large-scale projects almost entirely in cans with only brief playbacks in speakers for quality control. 

2.) Use mono objects for pinpoint accuracy

Although it is possible to spatialize aspects of the design via stereo object pairs, this method usually leads to a smearing of the sound stage. In a two-speaker setup, a phantom centre can be achieved with a convincing width, but once those channels are panned deeper into the room, the correlation breaks down.

With mono objects, it becomes very easy to place sound in exactly the place that you wish, increasing the sensation of immersion. 

3.) Subtlety is greater than chaos

For most of us, the initial temptation in this new format is to overdo it.

It’s so easy to make hundreds of sounds ping-pong everywhere throughout the sound stage, but this is usually counterproductive to the sense of immersion. It’s often better to start with a scaled-down number of sound objects in a relatively fixed configuration, creating an aural foundation and setting the scene for the audience.

Once they have localized to this new sonic environment, the designer can then take full advantage of advanced panning techniques to disrupt this reality and lead the listeners deeper into the story. 

4.) Don’t Forget to “Wet the Bed”

Most people think of immersive sound as objects chaotically flying around a room, but often what is even more important to immersion is the sound “bed.” This bed is layers of sound that do not have motion, but rather fill the space between them.

This is an ideal place to park background sounds, ambience, and atmospheres (also a great place to stick your stereo sources). Also, any effects applied to the moving objects, such as delay and reverb, tend to work really well as stationary bed layers too, subconsciously.

5.) If it’s High, Reach for the Sky

One of the most novel elements of modern surround playback systems is a series of height speakers to break the horizontal plane in order to elevate elements of the design for overhead excitement.

Novice mixers are welcome to experiment with panning any source up into the ceiling, but here’s a pro tip – our brains are not conditioned to localize sound from above.

However, higher frequency content does tend to help with sonic orientation. So the brighter the sound, the better it will play above your audience.

We hope these tips will guide you on your way to working in immersive and surround sound situations. So if you find yourself working in Dolby Atmos, Apple Spatial Audio, or with the L-ISA system, bear these tips in mind to achieve great results!

Matthew Reisinger Uses Krotos for his sound design

From his immersive sound work, to designing motorcycle sound effects for the unreal ride, to his film, tv and commercial work, Matthew uses Reformer Pro, Igniter and Dehumaniser II in his sound design workflow.

Get your hands on these plugins and improve your Workflow with a Krotos Sound Design bundle – Click here to read more

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