The What:
Waves Audio is now shipping two new tools and a combo for audio engineers mixing 360-degree and VR projects: the Waves B360 Ambisonics Encoder, a new plugin for converting mono, stereo, or surround audio into 360-degree Ambisonics B-format; Waves Nx Ambisonics, a new component of the Waves Nx Virtual Mix Room over Headphones plugin, designed for monitoring 360-degree Ambisonics B-format audio on regular stereo headphones; and Waves 360° Ambisonics Tools, a combo of both plugins.

The What Else: The most common Ambisonics format, is a four-channel format called B-format. Designed to fit intuitively into a traditional mixing workflow, the Waves B360 Ambisonics Encoder allows audio engineers to convert regular mono, stereo, or surround mixes into B-format, in order to deliver sound for 360-degree audio/video content.

Waves B360 can be used in two ways: by placing the plugin on each separate mono or stereo channel for precise positioning/panning of that channel in a 360-audio mix, or by first completing the mix in a conventional stereo or surround environment, and then placing B360 on the entire finished mix, as an Ambisonics B-format convertor. In either case, B360 allows the control of the mix’s width, elevation, and rotation, as well as the position of the different elements inside the three-dimensional sound field.

With an intuitive GUI and streamlined controls for panning width, elevation and rotation, Waves B360 is designed to make your 360-audio workflow faster and more user-friendly. B360 is AmbiX-compatible and includes AmbiX-to-FuMa and FuMa-to-AmbiX utility convertors.

To monitor 360-degree B-format mixes in a more accessible way, Waves now offers Nx Ambisonics, a new component of the Waves Nx Virtual Mix Room over Headphones, a plugin that recreates the three-dimensional acoustics of a professional mix room inside any set of stereo headphones.

By binauralizing the audio for headphones, Nx Ambisonics lets mixing engineers listen to their B-format mixes even when they don’t have access to an elaborate multi-directional speaker array. Nx Ambisonics also delivers sound quality free of distortion or artifacts often introduced by binauralization tools.

For improved accuracy, Nx Ambisonics offers full personalization to individual head measurements, as well as a visual spatial meter representing the audio frequency content in every direction of the three-dimensional sound field. For enhanced 3D realism that embraces the VR experience, Nx Ambisonics also offers an integrated high-quality, high-speed head tracking solution, using the compact Nx Head Tracker Bluetooth device or your computer’s camera.

In addition, Waves is also offering a combo: Waves 360° Ambisonics Tools, which includes the B360 Ambisonics Encoder, the Nx Virtual Mix Room (with the Nx Ambisonics component) and the Nx Head Tracker.

The Bottom Line: Ambisonics is currently the most popular technique for mixing audio in a full spherical 360-degree sound field, and is used extensively in VR as well as in Google and Facebook 360 videos.