Ambisonic Strategy

Ambisonic Strategy

The sursound forum's strategy for promoting True Ambisonic Surround and preventing the world from being overrun by Dolby Zillion.1

Richard Lee 23nov05

The sursound forum's strategy for promoting True Ambisonic Surround and preventing the world from being overrun by Dolby Zillion.1. Remember the new generation wants instant gratification.

See below for:

There are at least two other important avenues to promote True Ambisonic Surround (which are dealt with elsewhere):

There are three stages in this campaign. A number of issues are important to some stages but irrelevant to others.

  1. Punter downloads Nimbus 4.0 which he can play WITHOUT HASSLE on his present Home Theatre System with stunning results.
  2. Punter downloads Ambisonic Surround Decoder and plays stuff he's already downloaded, AND his Dolby Digital stuff to even more super effect. Downloads proper .AMB B format stuff. Knocks on his neighbour, Mr Spielberg's door to come & listen.
  3. Punter buys another 4, 6 or 8 speakers for full Periphonic True Ambisonic Surround.

A distribution format which encodes height is irrelevant to stage 1 as our customer has no way of using height information. This is only of use after stage 3 when he has installed a full periphonic system.

Fancy formats for stage 1 are irrelevant as all he has is a Home Theatre surround system. Far more important to make good results as hassle free as possible.

Please have a clear idea of this game plan. When you are discussing issues that might affect these stages, ask yourself whether you are hindering or helping.

The three stages from the customer's viewpoint.

Stage 1

Here are some wonderful Ambisonic recordings (4.0) you can download and play on your PC Home Theatre system. You need at least 4 speakers and a 4.0 or greater soundcard. If you are just starting out in Home Theatre, there is a list of good soundcards on Unlike what some people will tell you, its actually better to have all 4 speakers identical.

Isn't that great. Now just try moving your front speakers so all 4 are in a square and sit in the centre. Fantastic ! Get your neighbours, Mr Spielberg & Mr Lucas to come and listen too.

Notice we are not using your Centre front speaker because Ambisonics is True Surround and makes most efficient use of all speakers.

Ambisonics also records true height. But first, you need to go to step 2

Stage 2

Download the free ASD (Ambisonic Surround Decoder) and install. Now you can make full use of all your speakers. If you have Dolby 6.1, 7.1 .. Zillion.1 no problem.

Put your front speakers back where the wife says you must put them. Just use the setup screen to tell ASD where your speakers are and where you sit. Other surround systems don't ask this .. which is one reason why they do not work. (However, look at "Help - Optimum Speaker Arrays" if you want the very best sound for all your movies and music)

Play the Ambisonic (4.0) recordings you played earlier. Much better and more people can listen too. And your stereo CDs sound even better. You a fan of dead white man's music? Den try dis Nimbus stuff and click that UHJ button. Cool man. Dey make lots of CDs too.

And you can also play DVDs and get much more natural sound than your Dolby Digital decoder.

Download some True Surround Ambisonic recordings here. Incredible isn't it. This recording, the organs are on either side. And this Spitfire recording. Wow it nearly hit you didn't it. Actually it was flying low over you ... but to get a real flyover, you need step3

Stage 3 - The Dizzy Heights of Periphonic True Ambisonic Surround

Have you an 8 channel soundcard? If yours is 7.1 or greater, no problem. If not, there is a list of good ones on

Beg or borrow another 4 speakers and amplifier. You need to put some speakers above your ears and some below. A good way to set these up is to have them above the present speakers so you have a ring of speakers about 0.5m below you and another 0.5m above your ears. has recommendations and simple stands you can make out of chewing gum and LEGO.

Go to screen 2 PERIPHONIC SETUP and tell ASD where the new speakers are. Go to TEST on SETUP to make sure everything is connected properly.

Sit in the middle and hold on. Brrooom! The Spitfire flies overhead but very low. And the organs are actually far below you! Definitely get your friends Mr. Spielberg and George Lucas to come and hear this.

The exact instructions depend on what the decoder designer has wired in. But I think this scenario is worth working towards.

At stage 2, he can play with Rotate & Dominance. Doesn't need Z until he sets up his periphonic cuboid. Unless he wants to play with Elevation but then we can assume he's hooked and will have downloaded B-format.

If he gets to stage 3, our target has 8 speakers in a periphonic cuboid system. We could tailor the sell so he goes for a hexagon first then double hexagons or even an octagon and then a double octagon if we adopt the SIMPLE REGULAR HEXAGON decoder method in my original AMBI PLAYER SPEC

Please bear all this in mind as we need to be very clear about our strategy. What we do, can either advance or retard the process.

What we need

How we get program material to astound & amaze the guy in the street with the least possible hassle.

No need for height. Square G-Format with Shelf Filters specified by Nimbus. The Nimbus connection is vital as we want to have as much common ground as possible. We might use WMA for our net offerings and AC3 for DVD-V compatibility. Compatibility with DVD-V and Windoze Media Player is vital for OUR intended use for this format. But Nimbus and other SACD & DVD-A users choose whatever fidelity they are comfortable with.

These are just 5.1 sound files without CF or LFE. In fact the ASD could use the absence of these to detect Nimbus 4.0 Something ANYONE with a Home Theatre system can play with reasonable to good to excellent results.

DVD-V surround files may have a video clip suggesting a square layout, sitting in the centre and downloading the ASD.

Proper .AMB WXY files can be recovered exactly from these files by the ASD or an unpacker. Of course you can't for Nimbus 4.0 from BHJ originals but then there's no way you could. But applying the ASD will get you close enough to play through an Ambisonic system for Good to Very Good results.

There are a number of other ends that Nimbus 4.0 can serve without compromising its main role as above. Some of these and the caveats are discussed here

What we have

Lots of progress


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