Im working on my own project where im trying to tell a story/explain a scene with only sound and no voices or visuals. The sound, ambiences and cutscenes (using change in environment) should be able to tell the listener, where he is or what im trying to show him.

The major difficulty im facing is the localisation of sound in 3d space and the effect of height. Our stereo or surround speakers are normally in a flat plain around us. How does one produce the effect of the sound source below or above u.

the opening scene, according to my concept and drawings, shows a hill/cliff overlooking a sea. the virtual camera/listening postition is at the top of the hill with a highway winding around it below.

I want to show a car climbing the hill, on my front, right, bottom. I CAN show the sound source/car on my front and right, but unable to show the height in terms of up and down.

i tried Wavearts Panorama, but its isnt very convincing and i dont know how to use it for sound design and various tracks.

has anybody ever faced this issues?

3 Answers 3


A few options..

1) Mess with Panorama some more.

I've had pretty good results with that plug-in (http://bit.ly/pKdKJl), but the effect works mostly in headphones where you're getting a purely discrete signal in each ear. I found that even when it wasn't totally accurate, it did help to sell a bit of extra separation between elements in the mix.. maybe try cranking the Y parameter all the way up to hear a more dramatic difference?

2) Worldize/re-record your car binaurally.

If you have at least two pretty flat-sounding omni mics sitting around and can wrangle yourself into the right position, this is something you can try. Play the sounds you've already made through speakers on ground level while standing up or standing on a chair and holding the two omni mics against your ears, and re-record the car sounds through those sounds that way. It will bring some of then natural EQ/phase/delay information that happens as the car bys reflect off your chest/etc. and tell your body "this sound is below me" into the mix, and at least to you, it might add a little depth to it. Yes, it will likely bring some room reflections as well - it's not perfect - but it's another option!

I did this for some sounds in the above soundscape (write-up at http://bit.ly/fzIM2w) and it helped quite a bit.

Again though, that'll be mostly useful for your ears, and I don't know how well it'll reproduce psychologically on speakers instead of headphones.

3) Forget the binaural stuff and sell it with the right sounds.

If you don't want to try any fancy tricks, make sure your ambiences for standing up on the cliff are spot on. Seaside birds, the right winds, washy waves with occasional rock crashes. EQ a little high and low end off the traffic and elements you want to separate and add some early reflections-heavy verb to them to place them a little further out. Give your listeners some credit, they may be able to piece together what you want just from doing this.

I think that most people don't expect binaural-sounding mix work, so even if you only come close, with the right sounds, you will probably still get the effect you're going for.

WTB Ambisonics-compatible theaters all across the country, right?


Your either going to have to look into creating a custom monitoring installation, with additional speakers to provide height information, or you're going to have to look into binaural processing and monitoring (you'll have to use headphones in this case). Wave Arts Panorama supposedly works for that, but I've never messed with it myself.

Regardless of which method you use, panning is not going to be simple. You're not going to be able to produce any height information with a typical stereo pair or surround system.

  • waves panorama is not that convincing about up, down, and back feeling.
    – Aural Chef
    Commented Aug 26, 2011 at 8:17

@Luca Fusi: thanks for the reply man! how do i give an effect of a truck falling from the road above, to the road below on the hill and coming from left top to bottom? and a car climbing the hill from the right bottom?

so at the same time, my "hill" scene will have, a truck rolling down on the left as well as a car climbing on the bottom right. thats too many sounds, isnt it?

Even if i use straight normal sounds and speakers, im just confused how am i going to portay all the 3D info.

i will scan and put up my story board so that you can get an idea of the story.

This project is inspired from your "change in environment" post on your blog. Thats how i got the idea of Wave arts Panorama. Do i have to use it individually for all tracks/sounds??

  • Oh cool, glad it spurred you to mess around! If you want to move multiple things you will need to put separate instances of Panorama on multiple tracks. Since you'll have both the truck sounds and probably some crashing debris after it falls, sounds like this is the case for you. Are you using Pro Tools? What you can do is just enable automation for all the parameters of each Panorama plug-in and then play through with your Panorama tracks in either Touch or Latch mode and click/drag the position of the object around the Panorama 'head' icon as you go. Alternately, you can just draw it in..
    – lucafusi
    Commented Aug 25, 2011 at 16:36
  • If you have more questions about Panorama specifically you can e-mail me at [email protected] or use my Facebook account you've already messaged. Happy to help as much as I can.
    – lucafusi
    Commented Aug 25, 2011 at 16:36

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