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Envelop aims to bring audio-based virtual reality to life with high-definition, 3-D sound

Imagine stepping into a nightclub built for high definition, 3-D sound, where music doesn’t just surround you puts you in the middle of a sort of virtual reality based on sound. Envelop, a San Francisco open-source sound engineering project, plans on meticulously placing 24 speakers and four subwoofers in a 75-person capacity room to deliver just such an experience

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Envelop, which is in the midst of a Kickstarter project to install the sound system, has both the infrastructure and the software to make this a reality.

“If you’re a performer and you’re using Ableton Live with a multi-track composition, you can take an track and place it anywhere in the space, and apply special effects to it,” said co-developer (and Facebook data scientist) Roddy Lindsay (via TechCrunch).

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The foundation of the project is Ambisonics, “a proven open source sound mapping technology that has flourished in academic settings (such as Stanford’s Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics),” according to the statement on their Kickstarter.

“With Ambisonics, artists determine a virtual location in space where they want to place a sound source, and the source is then rendered within a spherical array of speakers. Rather than positioning sounds to different locations around the room based on speaker locations (as with conventional surround sound techniques), sounds are digitally mapped to different locations using x,y,z coordinates.”

The nightclub prototype, which will be housed inside a new San Francisco entertainment complex called The Midway, hopes to open this summer. They anticipate using the space not just as a performance venue (for electronic music performances and independent film screenings) but also for educational workshops and music psychology-related research.

In short, this futuristic sound engineering gives artists the ability to create an immersive ‘audio virtual reality’ where they can control not just the sounds being played, but where they’re being heard in the room. It sounds like an audio geek’s dream venue to us, and for that we’re excited.

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