3D audio is necessary to create presence in any VR experience. But when to use it? According to Walter Murch – the father of sound design – people cannot distinguish between more than 3 auditory events at the same time (of a similar auditory characteristic). We can assume then, that there is a limit to how much of the audio information the listener is able to focus at the moment.
Recently, I came upon an interesting theory of information and emotion delivered by audio layer in VR. It says that the more information about the events or environment do we want to deliver using audio, the more spatialized audio we should use. The more do we want to influence user’s emotions, the less of spatial audio we should use.
It is proved to be true also in a traditional cinema. The most emotional sounds have nothing to do with reality (think about exaggerated car crash sounds or the music). The most “real” sounds in cinema sets us in the environment and give information about the events.
This conclusion is very important, especially if the computational resources for audio are limited and the sound designer is forced to answer the difficult question: “Spatialize or not spatialize?”