I'd love to hear people weigh in on ambisonics. I'm looking to pick up an ambisonic mic pretty soon, but I'd like to know who else is using them for VR already and what you think about them vs. other gear.
My background with 3D audio is more on the omni-binaural side, but lately I've been feeling like I want to capture the sound field neutrally in addition to binaurally. Ambisonic mics make it easier to isolate elements from the sound field and play with them in post.
With binaural, you want to leave the track alone as much as possible, but maybe sometimes I want more verb or a flanger or whatever, and maybe I want it on one object but not the rest of the field.
Anybody have recommendations for the best ambisonic mics out there?
My primary concern is this: if ambisonic mixes aren't panned correctly, they can really gum up spatialization in post. Ambisonics are excellent at isolating unique elements of the sound field, but they're not as good at direction cues as binaural, so I think a lot of people will try to mix the two, and that's where you run into trouble. There are ways to avoid the pitfalls, and I hope we as a community can all help each other get up to speed on the strengths and weaknesses.
I'm worried that if ambisonics become super popular in VR, it will lead to blurry spatialization in lots of VR experiences (unless we heed the pitfalls). Ambisonics are a fascinating concept - you can position the sound anywhere within the volume of a sphere around your head. In VR though, we'll want to stay on the surface of that sphere. You have to crank your X,Y, and Z channels all the way to one side (whichever side you want to isolate).
That limits the versatility of the format because it prevents the mic from providing any of the distance cues it is famous for. It's the graphics equivalent of only being allowed to render at infinite. However, it's the only way to get a binaural plugin properly into the mix later in the chain. Those distance cues are virtually simulated by the hardware anyway, so you may as well virtually simulate them using any number of other methods later in the chain, and your results should be just as good.
Anyone have experience with this? It's hard to find people who are breaking ground here.