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When recording 360 degrees of sound (for a 360 virtual reality video) - so far i have heard of 2 main methods:

1) The use of an ambisonic microphone (sound field)

2) Put 2 microphones on each of the 4 sides of the 360 camera rig (at 0 degrees, at 90, at 180 and at 270) - use one microphone for the left ear and the other for the right, with the intention of producing 4 stereo tracks at the end.

I just wanted to know - how do those 2 approaches compare? Advantages/disadvantages? Complexity? Efficiency? etc..

  • Possibly related to sound.stackexchange.com/questions/38950/… – audionuma Aug 2 '16 at 6:07
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    I'm interested in what turns up. But I'm also thinking that the bulk of sound design involves working with mono cues and placing them in a 3D position, and programmatically using reverb or echoes to add space. How much 3D recording of cues in spaces actually occurs and how useful is that data? Seems like it would be difficult to "move around" in such a space--would it be more of a background ambience than as something that varies with avatar position? – Phil Freihofner Aug 3 '16 at 3:16
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Recording with an Ambisonic microphone is a great way to create space in a 360 video. Recording to B-Format Ambisonics is helpful if you are interested in doing Head-tracking. On the cheap side, check out the Zoom H2N recorder that now records B-Format natively. This, in combination with the "Facebook 360 Spatial Workstation" plugin suite (FREE!) is an inexpensive way to get into spatial audio for 360 videos. With the rapid proliferation of 360 videos on Facebook and Youtube there are LOTS of new hardware and software solutions available and coming soon for the format. There are two Facebook groups dedicated to Spatial audio and 360 video are an invaluable recource.

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Ambisonic recording was developed many years ago as a method of recording a 360 degree sound field with the added benefit of this being a "virtual" sound field - able to be transformed into any number of different soundstage formats such as stereo, binaural, 5.1 etc. The resulting sound-stage can also be electronically panned, tilted, rolled etc.

The ability to electronically manipulate an ambisonic B-Format stream is what makes ambisonic recordings ideal for VR purposes. In VR rendering situations, you never know what the sound stage "direction" is until the very final point of rendering - which is usually in the headset itself.

By supplying an ambisonic B-Format stream to a VR audio engine, the engine can render a perspective of the original 360 soundfield that will only be influenced by the intended perspective of the end-user.

Option 1 is perhaps the only supported and realistic option for VR audio. I have never heard of anyone using a method such as your option 2 and from your description I would hesitate to recommend it further.

There are multiple options available for Ambisonic recording these days - Soundfield microphones, Sennheiser Ambeo and Tetramic to name but a few.

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