Introduction to Virtual Reality Audio

Audio is crucial for creating a persuasive VR experience. Because of the key role that audio cues play in our sense of being present in an actual, physical space, any effort that development teams devote to getting it should be worth the effort, as it will contribute to the user’s sense of immersion.

Oculus offers numerous tools to help you develop great audio for your VR apps and games.

Features

The Oculus Audio SDK features tools and plugins that provide the following:

  • Spatialization and Head Tracking - Transform monophonic sound sources to make them sound as though they originate from a specific desired direction.
  • Audio Propagation - Provides real-time reverb and occlusion simulation based on game geometry. You simply tag the scene meshes that you want included in the simulation and select the acoustic material for each mesh.
  • Volumetric Sources - Sound sources can be given a radius which will make them sound volumetric. This will spread the sound out, so that as the source approaches the listener, and then completely envelops the listener, the sound will be spread out over a volume of space.
  • Near-field Rendering Sound sources in close proximity to a listener’s head have properties that make some aspects of their spatialization independent of their distance. Our near-field rendering automatically approximates the effects of acoustic diffraction to create a more realistic representation of audio sources closer than 1 meter.

For more details about these features, see Audio SDK Features

Download and Build

You can find all of the Audio SDK downloads on the Audio SDK page.

Note: The Oculus plug-in for UE 4 is not a separate download, but can be enabled in UE 4.

Oculus provides audio spatialization and propagation tools for the following game engines and middleware:

Learn

Sound design and mixing is an art form, and VR is a new medium in which it is expressed. Whether you’re an aspiring sound designer or a veteran, VR provides many new challenges and inverts some of the common beliefs we’ve come to rely upon when creating music and sound cues for games and traditional media.

Watch Brian Hook’s Introduction to VR Audio from Oculus Connect 2014. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kBBuuvEP5Z4

Watch Tom Smurdon and Brian Hook’s talk at GDC 2015 about VR Audio: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2RDV6D7jDVs

Our Introduction to VR Audio white paper looks at key ideas and how to address them in VR.

Learn more about audio propagation simulation in the Facebook Reality Labs blog post

Share

If you’re interested in learning more about Oculus VR audio or just want to chat with other audio-minded developers, drop by our Audio Developer Forums.

Learn More About Audio for Virtual Reality

TopicDescription
Audio in Virtual RealityIntroduces fundamental concepts in audio development for virtual reality (VR) with an emphasis on key factors that deserve development attention.
Localization and the Human Auditory SystemDescribes how humans localize sound.
3D Audio SpatializationDescribes spatialization and head-related transfer functions.
Listening DevicesDescribes different listening devices and their advantages and disadvantages.
Environmental ModelingDescribes environmental modeling including reverberation and reflections.
Sound Design for SpatializationNow that we’ve established how humans place sounds in the world and, more importantly, how we can fool people into thinking that a sound is coming from a particular point in space, we need to examine how we must change our approach to sound design to support spatialization.
Mixing Scenes for Virtual RealityAs with sound design, mixing a scene for VR is an art as well as a science, and the following recommendations may include caveats.
VR Audio GlossaryDefinitions of technical terms VR audio terms.