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Spatial VR Sound Gets an Upgrade as Valve Launches Steam Audio SDK Beta

Audio quality plays an important part in virtual reality (VR) immersion, so today Valve has announced the launch of its Steam Audio SDK as a free beta for developers.

Designed to enhance all interactive products, specifically VR applications, Steam Audio adds physics-based sound propagation on top of HRTF-based binaural audio. This allows in game audio to interact with and bounce off of scene geometry, aiding players by giving them more information about the virtual world they’re in.

Steam Audio - baked reverb

Steam Audio’s range of features include HRTF-based binaural rendering, occlusion, physics-based reverb, real-time sound propagation and baked reverb and propagation. Supporting multiple platforms: Windows, Linux, macOS, Android, Steam Audio is not restricted to any particular VR device or to Steam.

The Steam Audio SDK currently supports including C API for integration into other game engines and audio middleware. “Adding Steam Audio to the arsenal of tools available to Unity developers gives them an easy solution for extending the acoustic depths of their VR and desktop creations, and is the latest result of out collaboration with Valve,” said Tony Parisi, head of VR/AR strategy at Unity Technologies.

Another popular engine for VR developers is Epic Games’ Unreal Engine which will see support added soon. “As a new plugin for the new Unreal Audio Engine, Steam Audio fundamentally extends its capabilities and provides a multi-platform solution to game audio developers who want to create realistic and high-quality sound propagation, reverberation modeling, and binaural spatialization for their games,” commented Aaron Mcleran, audio programmer at Epic Games.

Free of charge, and without any royalty requirements, the Steam Audio SDK can be downloaded now from github.

“Valve is always trying to advance what the very best games and entertainment can offer,” said Valve’s Anish Chandak. “Steam Audio is a feature-rich spatial audio solution available to all developers, for use wherever and however they want to use it.”

For the latest Steam Audio updates from Valve, keep reading VRFocus.