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Discord Server for Plugin Users

I have just started a Discord server for aX Plugins users. It is very new but please do join to share how you use the plugins, get early news, request features, report bugs, and probably more in the future!

It will be a good way to get direct access to me and to influence development of the plugins by requesting new features or reporting bugs. It should also be somewhere you can share the cool projects you used the plugins for.

Looking forward to seeing you there!

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Now Supporting Tenth-Order Ambisonics

It has been six years since I released the first version of the a7, a3 and a1 plugin suites, for (up-to) seventh-, third- and first-order processing respectively. The time has absolutely flown by. I’d like to thank everyone who has used my plugins, shared their amazing creative projects with me, and provided feedback that continues to make the plugins better. There is plenty more to come in the future!

Today, however, I am happy to announce another big update, as the a7 suite evolves to become the aX suite.

aX isn’t just a new name. The new update of aX plugins are able to process up-to tenth-order Ambisonics! Going forward, I aim to have the aX version of the plugins support the highest order in each DAW for maximum spatial resolution.

As a re-introduction bonus, the aX tenth-order version of the plugins is on sale with a 30% discount until 11th February 2024!

Tenth-order is a lot. Why go above seventh-order?

The amount of error in binaural decoders of different orders as a function of frequency. Tenth-order has the lowest error across more of the spectrum.

In many cases seventh-order will be enough. Often, even third-order could be enough. It all depends on your signal flow and maybe the final order you are targeting (though I’d argue it’s always best to work with the highest order possible).

The main benefit of tenth-order processing is for binaural processing or for very large loudspeaker layouts. For some Ambisonics-to-loudspeaker decoders higher orders can also be beneficial when working with smaller irregular layouts. That’s something I hope to come back to in a later post.

However, most people can’t fit a giant loudspeaker layout (or even 7.1.4) in their living room that leaves binaural as a way to experience immersive audio. How we perceive binaural decoding depends mainly on three things: the HRTF we are using, the order of the ambisonic signal, and the method used to create the decoding filters. Let’s focus on the impact of the order to see what going up to tenth-order gets us.

The graph shows the amount of error in the binaurally decoded signal as a function of frequency. For the first-order (1OA) decoder the error starts to rise even below 1000 Hz. Third-order gets us above 1000 Hz and you can usually hear a huge difference by going from 1OA to 3OA. For tenth-order, the error doesn’t rise significantly until nearly 4000 Hz. This means that if you are using a custom .SOFA HRTF in aXMonitor then you are going to get holophonic scene reproduction over even more of the spectrum.

That’s a great reason to use the maximum order possible when listening binaurally!

How can I work with tenth-order Ambisonics?

The recent Reaper 7 update expanded the number of channels-per-track to a whopping 128. Tenth-order Ambisonics needs 121 channels, as opposed to seventh-order which needs 64. All you need to do is load the plugins on a track and set the number of channels to at least 121. It’s exactly the same process you would have used for seventh-order. Other than that, using the aX plugins hasn’t changed.

I work with Pro Tools/Cubase/Nuendo (any DAW except Reaper). Can I use tenth-order?

No, unfortunately not. Even though the aX plugins support tenth-order internally, the DAW they loaded in has to have enough channels-per-track to support it. Pro Tools Ultimate has seventh-order ambisonic buses so you can continue to use the new aX suite just like you did the a7 suite.

I bought the a7 suite. Do I have to pay for the new aX versions?

No! The a7 plugins have evolved into the aX plugins, they are not a completely new product. It means that once you update your plugins you will have access to tenth-order ambisonic processing when using Reaper 7.

I bought the a1/a3 suite and would like to upgrade to the aX suite. Do I have to pay full price?

No! If you have already bought any of the a1 or a3 plugins or bundles then you can benefit from the upgrade policy. Just get in touch and I will send you a discount code that removes the cost of the product you have already bought from the purchase of the equivalent aX plugin/bundle.

I don’t need tenth-order… Lower orders are enough for me.

Absolutely! There are plenty of cases where lower order processing is more than enough. If you’re recording with an ambisonic microphone, for example, then you are limited to the order of your microphone. Don’t worry, the a1 and a3 suites are still available at a lower price than the aX plugins.

Original price was: 125.00€.Current price is: 87.50€. excl. VAT

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Original price was: 275.00€.Current price is: 192.50€. excl. VAT

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Original price was: 450.00€.Current price is: 315.00€. excl. VAT

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Cubase and Nuendo Now Supported

Steinberg’s Cubase Pro and Nuendo have supported up to third-order Ambisonics for a while now and I’m happy to finally add both DAWs to my Compatible Hosts list!

Most of the plugins already worked as Insert effects in Cubase and Nuendo Ambisonics tracks/buses. In the newest versions I have improved the integration of aXPanner and aXMonitor so that they can be loaded in the panner slot. This makes working with the aXPlugins in Cubase and Nuendo that little bit easier and more pleasant.

Now that these two plugins are fully compatible with Cubase/Nuendo Ambisonics tracks you can use the full aXPlugins chain from panning to playback in the most convenient possible way.

Adding aXPanner To A Track

You’ve recorded your session with a mixture of Ambisonic microphones and some mono or stereo spot mics. You want to convert the spot mics to Ambisonics to place them spatially in your scene. Doing this in Cubase and Nuendo with aXPanner is really easy:

  • Import your audio file to a mono/stereotrack.
  • Add a Group Track and set the Configuration to whatever Ambisonic order you are working with. Pick third-order Ambisonics for the best spatial resolution.
  • Click on Edit Channel Settings on your mono/stereo track. Change the Output to send to the Ambisonic Group Track that you made.
  • Now look at the Fader of the mono/stereo track and right-click on the Channel Panner area. A menu will open that has a list of all the compatible spatial panners. Select the aXPanner that supports the order of the Ambisonic Group Track. For example, if your Ambisonic Group Track is first-order then you can add the a1, a3 or a7Panner. If you selected third-order then you will need to use the a3 or a7Panner.
  • That’s it! Now you can open the plugin and start panning to perfection!
Channel Panner menu for Nuendo Ambisonics panner

But with Ambisonics, panning is only half of the setup. We can’t listen directly to the Ambisonically encoded tracks. We need to decode it. Thankfully, that’s even easier than setting up the panner.

Adding aXMonitor For Decoding

Now that you have your Ambisonic tracks (recorded or encoded/panned) you’re going to want to listen to them. The aXMonitor is here just for that.

  • Click on Edit Channel Settings on your Ambisonic trakc. Change the Output to send to the stereo output of your audio interface.
  • On your Ambisonic track go to the Fader. Right click on the Channel Panner area of the plugin. As with the aXPanner you will see a list of possible plugins to add – including the aXMonitor!
  • Select the aXMonitor that supports the ambisonic order of the track. For example, if your track is first-order then the a1, a3 and a7Monitor will all be able to decode the signal. If you are using a second- or third-order track then you will need to use the a3 or a7Monitor.
  • That’s it! Now you can load you favourite/personalised SOFA file and listen in binaural!
Channel Panner menu for Nuendo Ambisonics decoder

A word about the processing order

The a1 and a3 versions of all plugins will work as intended in Cubase/Nuendo – you’ll get (up to) first and third-order processing respectively. All you need to do is add them to the tracks, as above.

The a7 versions of the plugins allow up to seventh-order processing but only if the DAW allows it. For the moment Cubase and Nuendo Ambisonics tracks are limited to a maximum of third-order (16 channels per track). The good news is that the VST3 format is run by Steinberg and it recently added native support for seventh-order Ambisonics! That means that hopefully in the near future we’ll see this work its way through to Cubase and Nuendo.

So, if you are a Cubase or Nuendo user you can add the aXPlugin suite to your tools for mixing Ambisonics and know that you’re getting a tight integration with your DAW. I would love to hear what you do with them, so please get in touch!

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aXRotate Update to Version 1.6.0

aXRotate, my Ambisonic scene rotator, has just had an update to version 1.6.0. In the new version I added the option to flip the direction of the rotations individually for each rotation angle. Simply click on the +/- button in the middle of each rotation dial and hear the rotation flip to the other direction! This update is free for all existing users and can be downloaded from your account.

Why is this update useful?

Well, aXRotate allows you to modify the rotation by connecting to a head-tracker over OSC. Not all head-trackers will use the same mathematically convention for which direction is considered a “positive” rotation. Using the new flip controls you can now match the plugins rotations with the angles supplied by your head-tracker.

A user requested this feature and I am really happy to have been able to add it. If you have any of your own requests for features you’d like to be added to any of the aXPlugins get in touch. I will do my best to include them as soon as possible in an update.

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Updates: New Look and Pro Tools Seventh Order Ambisonics

Header: A new look and seventh order ambisonics in Pro Tools Ultimate

I’m really happy to release the newest version of all of the aXPlugins. All plugins have been updated. Let’s dive right in to the changes:

  • A new look for all plugins – All of the plugins have been given a fresh lick of paint. The new design is cleaner and simpler to make them that little bit easier for you to work with. In some cases the new design is just an update of the style. Others have had their layout completely changed (such as aXDeesser). This interface redesign is the first step in making incremental user-experience improvements based on user feedback that will lead to faster, more convenient mixing. I’ll be sure to post when these updates arrive.
  • Seventh-Order Ambisonics in Pro Tools Ultimate 2023.06! Pro Tools 2023.06 now supports track widths up to seventh-order Ambisonics. I am very happy to announce that the newest version of the AAX a7Plugin suite is compatible with these new track widths. For years, users of the a7Plugins have had to use other DAWs to get higher than third-order resolutions but now you can use their full potential in Pro Tools Ultimate!
  • A lot of behind the scenes improvements – All of the plugins have had a lot of improvements made to the code that should make them less CPU intensive and more stable. As always, if you encounter any bugs then please do get in touch so that I can continue to improve the aXPlugins for you.
  • aXMeter – The free aXMeter plugin has been updated to allow different meter styles. You can display the level as a bar-and-line for RMS-and-peak levels. Or you can display only a bar showing the peak level. In addition, you can pick between two colour schemes: the original solid colour or a 3-colour gradient (green-yellow-red) to indicate when the level is reaching the danger zone!

To get the free updated version of your plugin just head over to the Downloads section of your account page and download them.

If you’ve already purchased any a1 or a3 plugins but would like to upgrade to the a7 version (to make the most of Pro Tools Ultimate), please get in touch before purchasing and I will give you a voucher for the price you’ve already paid.

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aXPlugins – Apple Silicon Native Update

Pro Tools 2023.3 provides native support for Apple Silicon which looks like it provides some seriously impressive performance improvements. I am also happy to announce that all of the aXPlugins now also run natively on Apple Silicon. If you are an existing customer you can download the updates from the Downloads section of your account.

The plugins have been compiled as Universal Binary 2. That means that you can now run aXPlugins on your M1 or M2 Mac. Or if you use an Intel Mac you’ll still be able to use the most up-to-date version. So whether you’re using Intel or Silicon, Reaper or Pro Tools, for your spatial audio you can get the best performance for your machine.


As an additional update, I have been working on some major updates to the whole set of plugins. Those updates are taking a while but will be worth the wait. However, I am planning some smaller updates to the plugins in the near future. Keep an eye out for them in the weeks and months to come!

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Tonnerre et Cavalcade: Spatial Audio in a Garden

The Château de Fontainebleau is hosting an outdoor contemporary art exhibition and I had the honour and pleasure of contributing to one of the installations.

The installation is called Tonnerre et Cavalcade and was conceived by sound artist Sébastien Jouan. It is a 15 minute multichannel composition that augments the natural sound field and is linked to the physical surroundings (such as a lightning-struck tree!). It is the only sound installation out of the many pieces being hosted!

I worked on the spatialisation of the piece along with various other elements of technical support, working with Sébastien to create a sense of immersion and a spatial narrative.

Grandeur Nature is currently open to visitors and runs until 17th September. Visit the Grandeur Nature page for more information on how to visit.

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Urbanozoo – Street Art and Spatial Audio

This month the Incursions Sauvages (Wild Incursions) exhibition opened at the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature (Museum of Hunting and Nature) in Paris. This exhibition, which runs from 11th April to 12th September 2022, includes the work of seven street artists whose visual works blur the line between nature and city, bringing animals right into the museum. These are worth seeing on their own but Incursions Sauvages has the added bonus of incorporating an immersive audio artwork!

I had the great opportunity to work with acoustician and sound artist Sébastien Jouan on the Ambisonic sound installation. Urbanozoo!, by Sébastien, was composed the piece to echo the images in two of the visual artworks (by war! and Jussie TwoSeven) with which it shares a space. Urbanozoo! uses urban and wild sounds to create a unique narrative in which the urban sonic environment is drowned under the sound of a stampede and the cries of animals.

My part in the project was to spatialise Sébastien’s composition, as well as to take care of the technical playback side. For the spatialisation, Sébastien and I worked together to place and balance the sounds so that they told the story of his composition and matched the visuals of the street art. The audio was mixed in first-order Ambisonics for playback over a square of loudspeaker. In addition to the artistic work, we had the technical challenge of ensuring that audio was wireless, since we could not run cables along the floor.

The final result stands on its own but the experience is heightened when listening in the museum, surrounded by the works of war! and JussieTwoSeven. If you are in Paris, I highly recommend that you visit the museum to hear Urbanozoo! for yourself.

You can read more about it on the museum’s website (in English and French).

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Recreating Notre Dame’s Acoustics

Earlier in the year I was part of a team carrying out a preliminary study on a system that can be used to place musicians in virtual spaces in order to study the impact of acoustics on performance. This was part of the Experimental Virtual Archaeological-Acoustics (EVAA) research umbrella project led by Brian FG Katz at Sorbonne University, Paris.

The study used a bespoke plugin I developed that allows for the directivity of the source to be modelled, including its orientation in real-time. This lets the musician perform and interact in as realistic way as possible with the acoustic space. We had several singers who had experience singing in Notre Dame de Paris before the fire of 2019, placed them in a virtual Notre Dame and asked them to sing so we could have feedback on the quality of the reproduction (from mic-ing, DSP and loudspeaker/headphone playback). It was quite something to have private performances of wonderful singers in “Notre Dame”.

The study was run with Nolan Eley, Sarabeth Mullins and Brian FG Katz. You can read the paper (open access) here. There’s also a nice video presentation of the work by Nolan available on YouTube.

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25% Discount September 2020

A short post to announce that I am running a 25% discount on all plugins and bundles for the rest of September 2020.

You can pick up any of my plugins with maximum spatial resolutions of 1st-, 3rd- or 7th-order, depending on your requirements. For example, if you’re working with 1st-order microphone recordings you don’t need the higher order plugins for processing.

And, as usual, you can get all the plugins for a particular order in one of the bundles that already have a large discount compared to buying all plugins individually.

Stay safe out there,
Peter