How 3D Sound Makes Virtual Reality More Real, By DJ Pangburn

Dražen Bošnjak in his sound studio with VR headgear. Images courtesy Mach1.

Attend a virtual reality meetup or conference and the discussion will eventually turn to developing better 3D spatial sound for VR experiences. The New York Times’ VR journalism platform, NYTVR, recently upped the ante (for iOS, Android and Google’s VR platform Daydream) when Tribeca-based Q Department Studio, creators of a VR and augmented reality spatial sound system called Mach1, teamed up with Secret Location—makers of the VR content management system, VUSR—to help bring virtual sound up to speed with visuals.

As Q Department Studio’s Jacqueline Bošnjak tells The Creators Project, she and Mach1 creator Dražen Bošnjak wanted to enter the VR sound arena so that the VR and AR experiences could become more holistically immersive. She says that while sound—as with everyday reality—is half the “presence” for more complete immersion, it lags behind VR’s visuals.

As Dražen notes, the ability to sense acoustic vibration is one of humanity’s five basic senses—one that helped us survive predators, hunt for food, and locate loved ones. Some aspects of high quality sound require a trained ear to appreciate, while other sounds work through a basic smartphone speaker that is compressed over a wireless signal. He’s amazed at the diversity of audio sensations in human hearing, and wants VR and AR audio to reflect this dynamic spectrum.

“Some aspects of visual technologies, mostly at the level of post production and processing are ahead of sound,” says Dražen. “It is much easier to trick the brain that it is hearing the right sound than it seeing the right image therefore exponentially larger amounts of money and time are designated towards developing and processing believable visual effects than sound.”

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