Timber Sfera starters guide.

Thanks for licensing Timber Sfera!

Here you'll find some tips to start using the plugin right away. Bear in mind that 3D audio, just like stereo sound or 3D/2D film, is an effect, a trick to fool the eyes or ears of the listener. Although from some products or plugins you might expect that you get the effect you’re looking for quite easy, without any learning curve, this is not true for 3D mixing. That doesn't mean that is difficult but you need to develop your techniques, what works and what doesn’t, and you need to get to know your tools. Sfera is a very versatile and powerful plugin, and used properly could open a new way of mixing for you. What was just L-R before now is all around you.

Quick tips not to forget

· We recommend to start mixing with headphones, get it right and then go to speakers. Every set of stereo speakers has a different configuration in terms of distance to the listener and that needs to be taken in account. 
· Best practice is to use mono sounds. Timber will process them and will deliver the stereo output.
· Also don’t hesitate to use the presence filter (more below). That is a tool that enhance the presence of the mix.
· It is obvious but need to be say it. Stereo Panner need to be untouched... otherwise will destroy the 3D effect. 
You'll find more tips below.

Authentication Code

Before we start you need to introduce the code that you received from us into the plugin. If you haven't done it yet this is how you do it:

Now let's see the Sfera plugin features.

  Source Features

Position Coordinates of the sound source

X = left - right (negative L, positive R)
Y = height
Z = depth or distance.
0,0,0 is centre of the room.

Yaw and Speed of the source

- Yaw is pivot around the current position, the source is directional, the angle will change the character of the sound.
- Speed is the maximum speed an object can have, and determines the doppler effect and speed of movement.
Notes: 
- The speed is expressed in in m/sec, a car that drives 80km/hour moves at 22 m/sec. 80 Km/h equals 50 Miles per hour approximately.
- Bear in mind that if your automation moves are at a higher speed, the object will lag because of it’s maximum speed. This is indicated by the trailing dot.
- Higher speeds are not better, it is best to choose a realistic speed. 

  Reflections

The reflections are ‘real’ reflections, the software calculates the actual timing differences of the reflections of the walls based on the positions of source and listener and size of room.

Orders and Damping

- Order determines how many reflections are calculated:
1st order is only the first reflection of each wall,
2nd order also adds the reflections of the first order reflected by the other walls,
3rd applies the same calculation on the first and second order reflections.

These are quite processor intensive, do not use more rfxl than you need, and more is not always better. 

  Levels

Master level

Overall level

Hrtf

The level of the direct 3D sound.
The small red switch is used for occlusion, when an object is not in line of sight of the listener, there is no direct sound, only rflx.
Use this switch to toggle the direct sound when occlusion happens. 

Reflection

This slide controls the level of the reflections. This greatly influences the feeling of the room, and values between -12 to -26 are most used. Automating this parameter can greatly enhance the ‘room’ feeling.

Drop off.

In real life the level goes down by 6dB when the distance is doubled.
With this slider you can adjust this, because real life doesn’t always work in sound design...

Presence

This is a very sophisticated filter that changes the character of the hrtfs and has a huge influence on the character and presence of the sound. Do not fear to use this slider, minimum is no effect, maximum is a 100% corrected filter for distance. The right setting depends on the character of the sound and has to be set by ear. When in doubt, 50 to 100% is good,
Be careful with dialogue or sources that contain a lot of high frequencies.

   Environment

Room

Size of the room, often a non realistic size works better, and for outdoor use large rooms with lower rflx.

Listener

Self explanatory, see source explanation, same applies here for the listener.

Groups

Group Often you have different scenes in a project, with different rooms. By assigning a plugin to a group, all plugins within that group share certain parameters, such as the room size.
This makes it easier to work on different sound sources in the same scene.
Use this with care, as Pro Tools doesn’t really support shared parameters between plugins.

  General Notes and Tips

- Avoid post 3D processing it is better to pre-eq, pre-compress, etc. than afterwards.

- 3D processing works better if the content contains more frequencies/harmonics. (a sine wave has no harmonics, and is impossible to ‘3D’)

- If you need a more exaggerated 3D experience you can use harmonics creating plugins as preprocess, especially the Sonnox Inflator works nice because it keeps the natural character of the sound source.

- Although you can start with real life settings when it comes to distance and sizes, do not fear to radically change some settings if you do not get the 3D effect you’re looking for.

- The plugin processes mono input. If you insert it on a stereo track it will sum L and R.

- If you have stereo sources you can split them in L and R and give each it’s own track and plugin. 

- The centre of the room is the least interesting place for listener and source, as the rflx of L and R walls, and F and B walls are the same.
It is advisable to position the listener outside the centre of the room, and have the source move around him.
Putting the listener more to the L or R can be tricky (because it is not in the centre of the sound image anymore) but F and B are perfect to use.

- The plugin is quite processor intensive. It is advisable to join sounds on tracks, to avoid DSP overloads. It depends on the speed of the computer, I usually ended up with around 20-30 t3D instances. Do not always use 3rd order rflx.
Depending on the computer, graphics can be quite a load on the system. If you experience processor overloads, then close the plugin windows so that it doesn’t need to display the movements. (this is true for almost all plugins)

- The software is still in beta gold for Pro Tools. Save regularly, and make incremental copies, so that in case of a corrupt session, you can go back to a previous version.

- Use a large buffer setting when mixing. Pro Tools finds it easier to distribute the load of the plugins with larger buffers.

Let us know any issues you might have.

More information? check our blog. 

You can find some valuable information in our Timber 3D blog, lots of information about 3D audio and its proper implementation:
In order to start with the right foot we suggest that you have a quick read to ""Why 3D doesn't always seem to work". It will give you the right tips to start in the right direction, avoiding common mistakes.