Sweet Notes Animation QSound: 3D Audio That Works

For decades, audiophiles have been looking for ways to move beyond the boundaries of just two speakers. Anyone remember the 1970s and the birth (and rapid demise) of Quadraphonic sound? After many companies tried and failed, in 1988 a small company located in Calgary, Alberta, Canada developed new technology that could greatly enhance audio localization (the ability to place sound in space), as well as dramatically increase the realism and range of sound placement on conventional stereo playback systems. That company was QSound Labs, Inc.


Today, their rapidly growing family of audio enhancement technologies include analog and digital hardware, stand alone software tools and add-on (plug-ins) to existing audio software. So dramatic is the process that the company developed that it was granted 13 US patents. Recently, on September 7th of this year, Burbank-based West Productions captured Emmy Awards for both Outstanding Sound Mixing and Outstanding Sound Editing for their exceptional work on the hit series "The X-Files." No surprise that West's sound mixing techniques include the use of QSound Labs' QSystem audio workstation. Other notable QSound users include Sting, Bryan Adams, Pink Floyd and Janet Jackson (nice company to be in, right?).

Of course, you don't have to be an Emmy-winning post-production house or a big-name recording rtist to afford QSound technology in your own studio. In fact, QSound 3D Audio is available in the form of plug ins for some of the most popular computer-based audio products like Digidesign's Pro Tools III System.

QSystem Master

QX/TDM ($295 list) is a professional-level stereo soundfield expander in TDM plug-in form for use with Pro Tools III. QSound's patented expansion algorithm moves widely panned elements far outside the boundaries of normal stereo, creating a rich, immersive, panoramic soundfield. Transparent enough to use for your final mix, QX/TDM can also be used to enhance reverbs, add space to submixes or to provide outrageous panning effects on individual tracks.

QSYS/TDM ($995 list) is the full-blown, all out QSound Plug-In for Pro Tools III. It provides four independent realtime parallel processing channels, each with discrete sound placement outside the physical stereo speaker locations using only one DSP Farm card. It gives you independent autopanners on each channel with user-definable shape, rate and direction plus up to 30ms of delay per channel for enhanced QSound effects. Take a look at the screen shot below for an overview of the QSound process.

Also available is the QX/SDII Soundfield Expander ($295 list) for Digidesign's Sound Designer II software used with AudioMedia II, SoundTools II, Pro Tools or Session 8 (for Mac). QX gives you the ability to push ambience or atmospherics out into the room while keeping the center of your mix solid and natural. Then there's QTools/SF ($195 list), a software Plug-In for the PC-based Sound Forge 3.0 and 4.0 sound editing software from Sonic Foundry.

If all this seems rather complex, just think of QSound as an awesome creative tool you can use to actually bring your music out away from your main speakers without having to use additional hardware (like more amps and speakers). You can even move sounds outside the left/right boundaries of your main speakers to literally envelope the listener in your music or sonic effects. Think of it as "Virtual Reality" for your stereo: close your eyes and QSound-processed sound can totally immerse you in the sound field!

If this sounds intriguing, we suggest you contact your Sweetwater sales engineer for more information and special low pricing on all the QSound products we carry!