Menlo Park, CA (September 20, 2017)—Oculus has announced the introduction of two new audio tools, Near-Field HRTF and Volumetric Sound Sources, for VR content creators.

In a blog post introducing the new audio tools, Oculus software engineering manager Pete Stirling and audio design manager Tom Smurdon write, “With the launch of Touch controls, there’s a lot of action taking place really close to you. That makes it all the more important to get the sound just right—otherwise, you risk breaking the sense of immersion and pulling people out of the experience. While Rift’s existing audio filters provided good directionality, they were designed to place sounds at least one meter away from the listener’s position in space.

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“With our recently introduced Near-Field HRTF, developers can model sounds much closer than one meter away with a greater degree of accuracy. Now, if you’re holding an object that makes sound (like a ringing telephone) and bring it closer to your head, we’re able to replicate that experience in VR in a more believable way.

“In the real world, not all sounds originate from a single point in space—sometimes they come from a larger volume, like a waterfall or the ocean. Volumetric Sound Sources let sound designers model objects of virtually any size in a way that sounds realistic. Rather than trying to pinpoint the source of a sound, designers can give a sound a radius—the larger the assigned radius, the larger the sound’s source.

“As you get closer to the radius, the sound will get progressively louder. Once you step inside the radius, you’ll hear the sound all around you. While Volumetric Sound Sources alone don’t provide a sense of scale, they’re an important tool along with reverb balance and dynamics to help designers get the right mix.”