What's ahead on the Sansar audio roadmap for the next few months? Participants in the May 12 meeting got a chance to find out as they interacted with several Sansar team members including: Senior Producer & Sound Designer Torley, VP of Product Bjorn Laurin, Lead Community Manager Jennifer, and QA Engineer Braden Steel.
The latest office hours were all about the audio. If you're a primarily visual creator, good sound can make your scenes even better!
Hanging out at Nobby's audio-enhanced FOXIS German Club Community
AUDIO & THE NEXT SANSAR RELEASE
In the next Sansar release, creators can expect:
VOLUMETRIC EMITTERS IMPROVEMENTS
- It will soon be a lot easier to use sound shapes (volumetric emitters) to fill larger areas with sound. At any time, you can change an audio emitter from a point to a cuboid (box) or sphere. This applies to both standalone emitters and ones attached to objects.
- We've fixed the user interface to make a lot more sense, and you'll be able to easily preview the size of a volumetric emitter.
- Audio Preview will work correctly with volumetric emitters, making it a lot easier for you to layout your soundscape.
PREVIEW AUDIO FROM INVENTORY
- You can right-click a sound in inventory to preview it before placing it in-scene.
- USER INTERFACE SOUNDS AND MUSIC
- We're gradually adding more sounds to the UI where it makes sense. Sounds that make your Sansar creative process more fun, as well as using UI sounds to communicate informational cues.
- You’ll also be able to more easily mute any (or all) UI sounds via a text file.
AUDIO & FUTURE RELEASES
There are going to be a lot of changes and experiments on this journey, since there aren't a lot of conventions established for a product as unique as ours, especially in the VR space. Looking further into the future, there are even more audio features and improvements on the roadmap, including:
STEAM AUDIO INTEGRATION
- We're integrating Steam Audio, and it sets the groundwork for features like occlusion and obstruction — which will block and muffle sounds coming through walls and other obstacles. This will allow you to get more control over spaces, so you have cleaner audio mixes with less bleedthrough.
- For example, you can place a simulated concrete bunker underneath a loud dance club, and when you're in the bunker, you'll only hear a faint rumbling from above. Just as you'd expect in the physical world.
- You'll be able to use new scripting calls to trigger and play sounds with different parameters, possibly such as volume and pitch changes. They can be one-shots (not just loops). Paired with other forthcoming advances, use this to build richer interactive objects like vehicles and musical instruments.
MEDIA STREAMING AND SURFACES
- After we introduce a material editor, we'll also allow you to stream web content onto an object's surface. Stuff that's compatible with Chromium Embedded Framework should work, which includes YouTube and HTML5 audio.
- We're considering a way for audio-only web emitters too, which will be useful for attaching to an appropriate object like a radio or jukebox.
VOICE CHAT IMPROVEMENTS
- Voice chat is continuing to be fine-tuned for better bandwidth usage and quality. We're investigating the possibility of auto-cleaning background noise and improving signal clarity further, so that even if you don't have a great mic, you can be more clearly heard.
AUDIO TIPS AND TRICKS
Continuing with this week’s all-audio theme, we’ve assembled some tips and tricks that may help you get the best sound from your Sansar experience.
- We strongly recommend that you use headphones (not speakers) with Sansar to get good spatial audio quality and avoid painful feedback echo.
- Did you know that you can test how your voice chat sounds to others? The following tip is also useful for checking voice chat volume relative to your scene sounds. Here’s how:
1. Find SansarClient.toml and set "isSingleInstance = true".
2. Then, start two instances of the Sansar client, logging in with the same account to the same experience (preferably a quiet one so sound doesn't double up).
3. Click the mute microphone button on one instance.
4. Talk as you usually would on the other instance and listen carefully to yourself — this is how others hear you!
- During the meeting, Creator Maxwell Graf asked for suggestions on what he could do to improve audio in his visually impressive ANTFARM experience.
- Torley suggested that he continue to use variations of audio emitters — for example, a different sound loop for each waterfall stream, which Max is already doing — and to consider using volumetric emitters to blanket large areas in natural ambient sound as a complement.
- Also, to consider matching the colored light areas with subtle supernatural sound — perhaps a fairy dust-like twinkling or a resonant hum that would suggest some sort of magic emanating from the spot.
- All of this adds to convincing worldbuilding and presence — how did this place come to be? Who else lives here? Sound plays a role in that.
- A number of other misc. questions that came up are answered in the Working With Audio Knowledge Base articles.
At any time, feel free to get in touch with Torley in our Slack's #sansaraudio if you need help or guidance… or just wanna share how you use Sansar audio in your creations!
Each week, meeting participants visit one or more Sansar scenes or experiences to get insight into how each was created. This week’s visit included the Sansar Studios Halloween 2016 scene, where we conducted an occult ritual — er, which Torley chose because of how he laid out the sounds into a cohesive "sonic tapestry" where each sound has a specific role to play.
He explained the importance of setting relative volume levels and to be patient with yourself when iterating. Sometimes it's best to make a sound very soft, even on the threshold of being heard, so that it's more felt than heard but nonetheless makes a difference — you'd notice if it suddenly went silent!
Also consider frequencies: a lot of high-frequency sounds makes it more difficult to voice chat at the same time, but certainly makes sense in some contexts. Using the whole frequency spectrum wisely will give your scene depth and nuance.
We also checked out Torley's Ambisonic Audio Demo!, where he demonstrated how easy it is to put a 360-degree surround sound in Sansar. Then, as you turn your head around, it's like you're really hearing that space. All you need to do is:
- Get a Zoom H2n recorder and set it to Spatial Audio mode.
- Press the Record button for a few minutes, press Record again to stop when done.
- Transfer the file to your computer.
- Rename the file extension to .ambix so it's correctly recognized (otherwise Sansar will upload it as a stereo .wav).
- Upload it into Sansar… voila!
You can refine further, but getting started is really that fast and fun. Learn more about ambisonic sounds.