I’m about to start pre-production on my 25th album and I want to do something special for this.
My thought is, and this is my question really…“will ambisonics allow me to…” basically record my album of music (close mic’d with traditional mics or DI’d into the system) and create a dedicated, ambisonics only, fixed-head, headphones/earbuds-only mix so that I can make the mix seem like “5.1 on steroids” where I can creatively use reverbs, echos and other FX plus have maximum-choice for instrument/sounds placement, including above/below.
I realize that my listeners will probably need some some sort of decoder for this, but really…
is any of this even possible, or am I not grasping something about ambisonics?
Why not using Ambisonic microphones to begin with? Might be even more spectacular (if laid-out carefully) than a simple “panned” 3D mix.
I think my reasoning is that I’m not using a real band for this album so there’s no actual ambiance in that respect, and Ambisonics mics all seem best for foley rather than amp/vocal micing Much of what I’m doing will be VSTi and amp-plugin based sounds so, no real-world ambiance info will actually be involved and will all have to be simulated.
I guess that’s the rub of it all…simulated band requiring simulated 360 environment?
Which is the reason I’d do it in fixed-head rather than VR style, to create more of an audio experience for those sitting on the sofa vis-a-vis standing with a VR headset on.
I have a couple of thoughts on the approach I would take, and congratulation on your 25th album!!
1 - Knowing that most music is consumed on streaming services, start with that end in mind. Do your first mix with a Dolby Atmos 7.1.4, which should nicely fold-up/re-render to all surround formats and binaural (ambisonics). I personally have not had good success at downmixing directly from Atmos to stereo, I would then do a specific mix to stereo. Some folks do it the other way around, I find it easier to start big and work my down to the very crowded, uninteresting stereo space.
2 - Ambisonic mic’s are great for immersive worlds like VR and other things that make use of head-tracking metadata. (gaming mainly). If your primary audience is not that, I would suggest taking the same approach to the way high quality VST instruments handle mic up/positioning - Arrange the instruments situ (where the instruments are on stage), and do a close/multiple/overhead mic up. And then mix that up in to your Dolby Atmos session.
Here’s an overview of my workflow through Windows based Nuendo, which is designed to ensure as high of a predictable outcome as possible:
Thank You, Michael, that’s a pretty great bunch of ideas.
I will give this further consideration.
My main concern is that I won’t be able to do any of the instruments in situ on this album. My new focus is on “CGI for your ears” and persuing that goal have turned my under ultilized Live room into a library. Which leads to the question, “do you think that it would be possible to simulate, using reverb/ddl, a convincing sonic space in said 3D environment?”
Most certainly doable utilizing a combination of objects/beds in Dolby Atmos space. The suggestion for situ was more of the perfect scenario. All that can be done using the same gear you have been using for stereo - from mic’s, up the signal chain, in to your A/D, and in to your DAW of choice for tracking. Personally speaking, I would then pick it up from there and do all the mixing/arrangement/mastering in Nuendo.
Thanks, Michael. You’ve been a huge help.
I’ll do some tests this weekend and see how it goes.
I use both Cubase and Nuendo, but I think that for a project like this
I’ll just stick to Nuendo start to finish for consistancy.
perhaps something on top of what Michael suggested.
Mix all tracks into a 7.1.4 bus. You can position each individual source track to any 3D-position. Can also put a 3D-reverb onto this bus. Or none, if kind of “pure instruments” is the goal.
The bus feeds into another 7.1.4 bus. This can gets two instances of In-One Binaural Plugin (New Audio Technology. (Reason for two is , that one can handle only up to 7.1. One of the next versions will not need such workaround).
One instance gets e.g. the Bottom 7.1, and the 2nd instance the Top 4.0. In each of the instances, you can (again have to) adjust the 3D-XYZ-position. Can also apply certain presets to make it sound like in a studio.
Just bought this plugin (< $100) after having tested about half a dozen of Binaural Plugins (DearVR, Ambeo, Dolby Atmos Production Suite, Steinberg Immersive, Ambisonics and more).
BTW, I am not any close to be an employee of this company.
So with this approach and plugin, you can go even beyond “5.1 on steroids” as it adds the 3rd dimension of heights. Sure, can do 5.1-on-steroids with it too.
Very thought provoking. I have tried every combination but that last one!