Here’s today’s project. I’ve been asked to do some sound design for a video with a lot of moving elements. Our aural perceptions of space are a lot more refined than simple L/R balance–there are small delays when sounds move around us, low-frequency sounds tend to be more difficult to localize, our heads filter some of the highs on the far ear, reflections from the space we’re in can inform our perceptions…our brains do all kinds of cool shit to help us figure out what’s going on around us.
So I built a device to do some basic Stereo Things to ambient sound. It’s not exactly high-level psychoacoustics–it’s not really meant to replicate real spaces, but to allow overdramatic, exaggerated moving and panning effects to be created easily. The signal is split into two bands, with a sweepable crossover from 30hz to 3khz. The high and low bands are panned separately. There’s a HF attenuation control, which applies a gentle, sweepable 6db/oct lowpass filter to the high band while slightly reducing its amplitude, and a 0-100ms delay to separate the bands and create quick reflections. The trim pot allows for some overall level adjustments–aggressively panned sounds can sometimes need padding.
I also made a TouchOSC interface for the rack so it’s easy to control and see what’s happening. Here’s a shot of the rack and the interface. (The TouchOSC interface is a screenshot from the editor, so the values don’t correspond to the Ableton rack in this photo.) Audio coming soon!