I was wondering if there is a way to mix sounds together using Cubase to create a binaural mix. I've tried the Longcat plugin but it doesn't sound quite right.
If anyone has any tips it would be greatly appreciated.
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I'm pretty sure that in this context "mixing in binaural" means "mixing using HRTF (Head Related Transfer Function)".
So, yes, there are plug-ins out there that will do HRTFs. The problem remains this: a set of HRTFs that does the job right for me will not necessarily do the job right for you. I know that when I was demoed the Longcat software, I thought it was pretty impressive: the HRTFs set that was used was probably closer to my head and pinna shape and size than the set of HRTFs that was used when you tried it.
In an ideal world, a surround mix should be in a neutral format (say, Ambisonic B-Format) that would be decoded/adapted to the playback environment or listener, whether it's on loudspeakers or headphones.
WaveArts (I'm pretty sure it's them) also makes a plug that does 3D modeling. I was never a huge fan of plugins that do that stuff... as you said they never sound quite right.
Sadly, the only way to get it as good as real is to record it as good as real. For the time being anyway.
However, there is a lot to be said for very careful EQing to place things in the stereo field. Appropriate leveling will do a lot of the work for you too. But to get the sound behind you, you really need to record it binaurally.
You could try worldizing your samples and moving a baffle (a sweater or small (quiet) pillow) in front of your mics to approximate the frequency interference of your pinna. I've never tried it, but it seems like it could work, kinda.
This is a complex question, mostly because it's not specific enough.
Binaural simply means Stereo. Personally, I think the term is bandied around by hardware and software manufacturers because it's sort of a trending topic in audio circles for the past few years. It's similar to the word(s) "Lite/Light" in advertising. It's really undefinable. Does it mean that metrically, this beer weighs less than the other, is it lighter in color... or that it has a lesser nutritional or caloric content than the other (which is typically what we're led to believe). It's a vague term used to make you think what they want you to think and have absolutely no accountability for the scientific validy of their supposed advertised claim. Such nasty tricks are just as plentiful in the Audio Industry as well. What's worse is that we believe ourselves enlightened for supposedly knowing/hearing the difference.
Now that I have that out of the way.. I'll delve into a few other things where I think this may have been going.
Are you looking for Simulated Surround, or Binaural Beats?
Binaural Beats: To be honest, creating a "Binaural Beat" isn't all that hard. It's mostly simple mathematics via synthesis and mixing techniques. The basic concept is based on Stereophonic Frequency Modulation by using de-tuned waveforms where, as the two slightly varying frequencies of the same waveform enter your ears they sum together and thus modulate in your brain where they create a whole new summed waveform that is perceived by your brain as a "ghost" or 3rd wavecycle that is a base division of the main waveforms' frequency. This supposedly has an affect that creates a form of hypnosis or focus.
Any mix you create using any DAW is a "Binaural Mix" unless you mix to anything but stereo. For a "Binaural Beat" effect to be noticeable, all frequencies in the mix would have to be sub 1,000Hz.
So to directly answer the potential question of "how do you mix sounds together using Cubase to create a Binaural mix": You could bus the left half of your sub 1kHz mix to the left half of a stereo track and the Right half of that mix to the right of another stereo track, insert a pitch shifter on one of the two tracks, adjust it no more then 30Hz either + or - and then bus those to a stereo track to send them to their appropriate channels. Supposedly listening to this will "in sum" create a "Binaural beat". Otherwise at higher frequencies this creates a less noticeable, but somewhat similar effect as flanging or phasing and becomes more annoying than hypnotic.
I typically don't think that this is going to achieve the response or implied affect that most people think it might though. I can't imagine it sounding all that good on an entire mix, especially one that contains nothing over 1kHz. It's more implied for simple synthesis.
Now to the other side of this, which I think is where you were actually going.
Simulated Surround: Sure, this is somewhat possible, it just takes an understanding of the sounds and their supposed acoustic environments as well as how human hearing works. You don't even need a specialized plug-in to do this. It's a perceived 3 dimensional Doppler effect that can be achieved by combining Panning and Volume with Reverb/Delay and EQ (Think of the helicopter / ceiling fan scenes in Apocalypse Now, that's how that was done... and it sounds brilliant). It involves a bit of careful automation and mixing and then you have your desired result.
Personally, I never think any of it sounds as good as a true surround setup though. Sure, plug-in and hardware manufacturers boast that they have a magical formula to this (even laptops have a "3D or Surround" enhancer. Really? You've got to be kidding me, with laptop speakers none the less?) and there are also surround headphone decoders and so on... but it never sounds all that great or believable to me. And I say this having done a fair amount of surround mixing. I've even done a surround mix through an active stereo fold-down summed into mono via headphones using Pro Tools LE with the Complete Production Toolkit, an MBox2 and a set of headphones. I feel I understand surround and signal flow well enough to have even tried it and the surround mix turned out pretty decent. A little wide at times, but pretty decent considering my conditions and it sounds better than the mixes I did using a virtual surround headphone unit and simulated surround plug-ins where I could at least hear in stereo. The whole process isn't simply mathematical, it's psycho-acoustic and very subjective to millions of different variables. Sure, they can get a simulated desired affect, but it usually pales in comparison in my experience.
Hopefully someone here more knowledgeable can prove me wrong so I can learn otherwise or they can suggest a better simulated surround plug-in. Hope that helps and sorry if any of it sounded condescending. Sometimes I ask rhetorical questions or answer questions people weren't even asking in order to get the idea or point across.