Selecting an Audio Spatializer
An essential element of XR audio is spatialization. To create an immersive and realistic experience a high-quality audio spatializer is needed. There are several options available to choose from including, but not limited to the Google Resonance Audio SDK, Oculus Native Spatializer Plugin (ONSP), Steam Audio SDK, dearVR plugin and Microsoft Audio SDK.
The various features of spatilizers like audio propagation, localization, early sound reflection, Doppler effect and occlusion should be considered when making a choice. But the final selection may vary based on what aspects are most important for your project.
Feature Matrix for Popular Spatializers
We didn’t know which one to use at the beginning of our Face Your Ears project. So, we tested the different audio spatializers on key parameters to find the best one for our needs. We started our research with the default built-in Unity plugin and extended the testing to the others mentioned earlier.
We conducted several tests using different types of sound on several different users and asked them to rate the various parameters on a scale of 1 to 5. Since all the spatializer plugins differ from each other in their respective features, we focused more on the sound localization and reflections. Based on different tests for immersion, direction and quality, the Steam Audio SDK seemed to deliver a better immersive experience and spatial sound quality. The Audio propagation feature of this spatializer provides real-time reverb and occlusion simulation based on game geometry. Moreover, the sound does not distort which makes for realistic sound effects. Early sound reflection feels natural, and the Doppler effect seems to be much smoother. dearVR also did very well in our testing and should be considered for its configurability.
We hope our research helps other developers to find the best spatializer for their project.