Sennheiser have released a free binaural panner plug-in called Ambeo Orbit, intended for use with their ‘Ambeo 3D Recording Blueprints,’ but freely available for all to download. It’s an incredibly simple and effective plug-in for creating immersive 3D environments from a standard stereo (or mono) sound source. Put simply, if you want a track to sound like it’s coming from behind you and slightly to the right, this plug-in goes a long way to helping you achieve that. Some DAWs have binaural panning built in, however the user-friendly interface of Ambeo Orbit might make it a better option for many.
Binaural Panning – A Quick Intro:
To understand binaural panning, think about the structure of the human head. We hear in stereo – 2 ears (microphones) plugged into our brain. It doesn’t matter if we’re listening to a 9.1 surround sound system, it’s all being heard in stereo – but incredibly our brains can determine orgins of sound fairly accurately. This is a complicated process, but what it boils down to is our brains determine the origin by assessing the differences in a sound as it reaches each ear independently. This includes time difference between ears and frequency differences as your skull blocks some frequencies from being as prominent on one side as the other.
Pretty cool things brains huh? Because all sound boils down to being channelled through our ears in stereo, it’s theoretically possible to replicate any immersive sound experience via binaural panning. So it’s time explore the third dimension: