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Logic Pro X : Working With Ambisonic Audio

Apple Logic Pro Tips & Techniques
By Chris Timson

Screen 1: In order to be able to record and manipulate Ambisonic audio in Logic, channels must be set to the Quadraphonic format.Screen 1: In order to be able to record and manipulate Ambisonic audio in Logic, channels must be set to the Quadraphonic format.

We explain how to get Ambisonics working in Logic Pro X.

Anyone who read Sam Inglis' excellent review of the Rode NT‑SF1 microphone (SOS December 2018) would have been intrigued at the very least by the possibilities offered by this extraordinary mic. These possibilities are the result of it being an Ambisonic microphone, and I was sufficiently interested first to investigate and later to buy an NT‑SF1. Since my DAW of choice is Logic, that became the medium of my investigation. This article, then, is about what I found when starting to work with Ambisonics and Logic.

The NT‑SF1, like many Ambisonic mics, consists of four cardioid capsules fixed in a tetrahedral arrangement, capable between them of picking up all ambient sound around the mic together with directional information. To the audio interface, it appears as four separate mics, and so the DAW needs to be able to record four streams of audio data. All the clever stuff is then either performed in dedicated hardware or in the DAW using a special plug‑in for the purpose. There are several available but I used the Soundfield by Rode plug‑in, which is designed for the mic and is freely downloadable from Rode.

When one thinks of Ambisonics, one often thinks of surround sound, 5.1, 7.1, binaural and the rest, but what excited me was the ability to specify 'virtual' mics — mono or stereo, cardioid, omni or whatever — for use in normal stereo productions (as described by Sam). I really liked the idea of this because I am of the school of thought that tries to delay decisions as much as possible. So for instance I never use compression, EQ or stuff like that while recording, and now it seemed I might be able to delay even the choice of mic type and position until mixdown!

Come recording time, your four streams of audio data could of course be processed as four separate tracks, each...

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Published June 2019