Lately, I’ve been working on a lot of podcast editing. But something has been bugging me about content delivery: its still just stereo. And sometimes just mono.
A recent technical passion of mine is to understand the mechanics of surround sound, ambisonic sound, and how to bring those formats to listeners. My ideal is to embed an audio file into either a flat, rotate-able video or AR experience that people can focus on the audio, solely. Or, to deliver a head trackable audio file that works for surround sound files. Now, it doesn’t necessarily have to be multi-channel, such as 5.1, or even full ambisonic. It can be just rotational binaural and give a nice spatial affect. But since I now have in my mic arsenal both in-ear binaural mics and a tetra-capsule ambisonic mic, I am shooting for the moon while keeping my feet on the ground.
So, is there a method to deliver ambisonic or surround audio to an iPhone or Android device for a podcast?
Audio compression seems to have stalled at mp3 for content delivery. AAC files are nice, as are Ogg Vorbis, FLAC, and the like. But what about standalone AC3, the compressed version of 5.1? How could that be delivered sans video? There are no players for AC3 for mobile without video. Heck, there’s not even a Mac desktop version. Is this a pipe dream?
I bit the bullet and I purchased Waves NX, a bluetooth head tracker that works with Waves’s iOS app, effectively acting as a VR headset minus the visuals. If a sound is encoded to be behind or to one ear or the other, moving your head will focus the sound accordingly. But it appears to be a closed system. I’ve reached out to their support team to find out how if they plan to open it up to content creators.
Maybe all this is too much too soon. The recorded music industry has moved on to streaming stereo, no surround sound plans yet. Even though the forthcoming update to AppleTV will include Dolby Atmos, the consumer end of things just isn’t there yet. Plus, who wants to spin audio around your own head when mono is fine on the commute to work?
My conclusion is there has to be a need. Or a visual cue. No one is going to pay attention to complexity if it isn’t warranted. More to come as I head down this path.