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v3.1 Audio Ease 360Pan Suite

Review:

Audio Ease 360Pan Suite
  
Audio Ease 360Pan Suite

Tools for crafting audio for 360° video

360pan suite is a plug-in suite for macOS and Windows designed to deliver (up to third order) ambisonics mixes for immersive audio: audio from all directions, intended for headphone reproduction, that stays where it is even when you turn your head.

You can do all your panning, distancing and even mixing from within the video window of your DAW (Reaper, Nuendo or Pro Tools HD/Ultimate, macOS only).

 

What’s included:

  • 360pan – Panning and the distancing of sound sources, operated directly from the video window.
  • 360monitor – Look around and listen to your immersive mix while you are making it, instant preview.
  • 360reverb – Convolution reverb with ambisonics impulse responses.
  • 360limiter (New) – This true ambisonics limiter enables you to deliver great sounding mixes.
  • 360radar – The radar shows you the location of your audio in your ambisonics mix.
  • 360turner – Rotate or tilt an ambisonics recording so that misalignment and calibration errors of the microphone can be easily corrected.
  • 360fuma to ambix – Convert first order FuMa abisonic audio to AmbiX
  • 360ambix to fuma – Convert first order AmbiX abisonic audio to FuMa

All plug-ins are available in first, second and third order variants (4, 9 or 16 channels).

The 360pan suite of plug-ins is protected using a single license. An iLok (second or third generation) USB key can be used however this is not required: the license can also be activated on a machine (computer) using the ilok license manager application. A free ilok.com account is required for this.

Please note:

  • For use in Pro Tools, Pro Tools HD 12.8.2 (or up, incl. Pro Tools Ultimate) and a Mac is required.
  • For third and second order (sixteen and nine channels) ambisonics in AAX Pro Tools HD version 12.8.2 (or up, incl. Pro Tools Ultimate) is required (in VST3 Reaper 5 supports 1st, 2nd and 3rd order as well)
  • No AAX plug-in for Windows, only VST3 is supported on Windows.

What is 360pan suite for ?

The 360pan plug-in suite enables you to deliver ambisonics audio, b-format AmbiX audio to be precise.
There are a lot of names for the type video that the 360pan suite can deliver this spatial (or localized, immersive, 3D) audio for:

  • 360° video
  • VR video
  • Virtual Reality video
  • Panoramic video
  • Spherical video

to name the most common.

These type videos require a soundtrack that can turn when the head of the viewer with VR goggles on, or their phone, is turned.

There are a number of playback platforms for 360 VR videos.

  • Facebook 360
  • Oculus Video
  • YouTube
  • SamsungVR
  • Jaunt
  • Vive
  • SteamVR
  • Playstation VR

to name a couple.

All of these chose Ambisonics as the technology that allows for the interactively turning audio mix. This means that audio-post folks need to produce ambisonics mixes. Ambisonics mixes are in a format called b-format, which consist of four channels (for first order, nine channels for second order and sixteen channels for third order). B-format comes in two channel orders: AmbiX or FuMa.

YouTube requires AmbiX b-format ambisonics soundtracks, so this is what 360pan delivers.
Facebook requires 2nd order ambisonics, 360pan suite delivers this.

360pan

360pan enables you to pan mono, stereo or four channel input files into ambisonics, using pucks that move on top of the (Pro Tools HD/Ultimate) video window.

Gain, distance and reverb width, along with the puck itself will show up in the (Pro Tools HD/Ultimate) video window when a panner is inserted and ‘show puck’ and ‘show overlay’ are switched on. The three sliders appear when you click the three slider icon that shows when you hover the mouse over a puck in the video window.

Signal Flow

It is possible to use the 360reverb in a traditional way using sends and busses, however it is designed to be used in a more clever way:

mono or stereo sources are converted up to ambisonics, while giving it a left-right, up-down, and distance position in the ambisonics bus. A panner is inserted on each sound source track to do this. So panners get mono or stereo (or even 4channels) of input and output ambisonics.

Each 360reverb creates a private ambisonics input, kind of a backdoor, only accessible by the 360pan instances. Each 360reverb shows up as a send destination in each 360panner. This ties the 360pan’s to the reverb in such away that you can adjust distance and reverb-width per panned source. This goes for an unlimited amount of sources even if there is only a single 360reverb in your project (which is the most usual setup).

Besides all this the usual main input of the reverb still functions (also simultaneously with the private input).

Position blur

Turn position blur up to create sound-objects that should appear bigger than a point-source. The panning position will then be their center, and they will become larger in the mix.

Head-locking audio

If position blur is turned all the way up, the audio is mono and will not move at all when the listener turns his head. You can use this to mix voice-overs or (mono) music that shouldn’t move.
Pan stereo music hard left and hard right and open up position blur halfway to create a head-locked effect in an ambisonics mix, That does not require separate head-locked tracks.

360monitor

360monitor scoops video frames out of the video window and sends them into a browser style drag-n-pan screen while decoding the ambisonics mix to binaural for headphones, (or 5.0) for speaker playback, so you can look around and listen to your immersive mix while you are making it.

In the picture the mix format selected is 8 channel (8 ch). This 360monitor is therefore on an eight channel bus (7.1). It folds the audio down to 2 channels for headphone listening. It does that in the way described technically in Appendix 2 ‘Ambisonics to binaural conversion’ from the 360pan suite manual.

Tip: 360monitor can be heavy on the CPU when it is visible. This is because it is transporting frames from the Pro Tools HD/Ultimate video window to the 360monitor user interface. The smaller the Pro Tools HD/Ultimate video window, the lighter 360monitor operates.

360reverb

360reverb is the first truly omnidirectional convolution reverb. A single instance can can provide pan-following reverb with individually adjustable reverb width for an unlimited amount of sound sources.

The dry/wet balance and the spread controls only function on the main (traditional plug-in) input of the reverb. 360reverb accepts ambisonics input and delivers ambisonics output. There is a separate private input that is selectable in all 360pan plug-in instances.

The dry/wet balance and the spread controls do nothing on the private audio lines each 360pan has to the reverb. The distance and reverb-width parameters for the private inputs are set in the 360pan plug-in (or through the popup faders in the video overlay).

360limiter

360limiter is a first order to third order ambisonics, look ahead, brick wall peak limiter with adaptive automatic release time determination, and added EBU R128 (LUFS) loudness metering.

Your spatial audio mix will sound great compared to other mixes from other professional sources like the Google Spotlight Stories on YouTube.

Live ambisonic recordings often have a large dynamics range, where occasional peaks can prevent the user from gaining without clipping the peaks. When uploaded online (or on any other delivery platform) your mix can sound quiet compared to the rest. This is where the limiter comes into play. The 360limiter can, transparently, attenuate these peaks, enabling the user to gain the program without clipping.

360radar

360radar shows you when there is audio in your ambisonics mix or recording, but more importantly it shows where it is, all right in the video window.

360turner

The 360turner together with 360radar allows you to rotate or tilt an ambisonics recording so that misalignment and calibration errors of the microphone can be easily corrected.

Import

converter plug-ins

360fuma to ambix & 360ambix to fuma

The two main flavors in b-format channels are:

  • FuMa – channel ordering WXYZ with W 3dB lowered compared to AmbiX
  • AmbiX – channel ordering WYZX

360pan suite, Facebook, Oculus Video, YouTube, SamsungVR and Oculus all use AmbiX b-format.

Currently some technologies use FuMa ordering as their upload requirement. If you will be using the 360pan suite to create audio for:

  • JauntVR VR player
  • Audiokinetic’s WWise
  • TSL’s Surround Zone
  • HarpexB

Then make sure you insert a 360ambix to fuma in the ambisonics channel that you bounce, in order to get the FuMa channel order (and normalization) that is required.

No export/convert plug-ins required

360pan suite works with standard AmbiX channel ordering and normailization. This means you can directly use the output of any 360pan suite plug-in as AmbiX ambisonics signal. There is no need to use convert or export plug-ins. This also allows to mix any other plug-in that supports AmbiX ambisonics audio.

 

macOS

  • macOS 10.8.5 or up
  • On one of these supported DAWs
    • Pro Tools 12.8.2 HD (or up, incl. Pro Tools Ulitmate)
    • Reaper 5
    • Nuendo 7
    • Cubase 9 or up
  • an iLok.com account (no ilok usb key required)

Windows

  • Windows 8 or up
  • On one of these supported DAWs
    • Pro Tools 12.8.2 HD (or up, incl. Pro Tools Ulitmate)
    • Reaper 5
    • Nuendo 7
    • Cubase 9 or up
  • an iLok.com account (no ilok usb key required)

Please Note: 360pan suite 3 requires the ambisonics tracks introduced in Pro Tools HD 12.8.2. This sets the requirement to Pro Tools HD 12.8.2 or up (incl. Pro Tools Ulitmate). If you use an older Pro Tools 12 HD / Pro Tools 11 HD version please use 360pan suite version 2.

 

What’s new in 360pan Suite 3.1?

  • New 360limiter, true ambisonics limiter plug-in added to the suite
  • New Pro Tools (AAX) support for Windows added
  • Added OpenGL rendering in plug-ins, reducing cpu load dramatically
  • Added option to double the 360monitor’s preview video window size
  • Fixed communication problem with latest generation HC-06 head trackers