Valve Introduces Steam Audio

Posted on February 24, 2017

Steam Audio has been released, promising to deliver an advanced spatial audio solution for games and VR applications. Steam Audio intends to significantly improve immersion and open up new possibilities for spatial audio design. Adding physics-based sound propagation on top of HRTF-based binaural audio, Steam Audio will  ‘bounce’ off the scenes geometry to add a new layer of depth and immersion to your gameplay.

If that sounded too technical, don’t worry, it initially did for me too. Basically, Steam Audio recreates how a sound is affected by a users head, ears and torso, resulting in subtle cues to allow the user to locate the source of a sound. And it’s a bigger deal than you may think because innovation in sound design has stagnated for far too long in the gaming space, so having a big player pushing sound into the modern age is seriously good news. Can you imagine being able to perfectly locate the sound of footsteps in a game? Or consider how much more immersive it could make the VR experience. Check out the following video for a better understanding, headphones strongly recommended

With a low CPU overhead and minimised frequency colouration of audio clips, Steam Audio is perfect for developers to go the extra mile in their sound design.

Steam has packed this free SDK with everything devs could need, including: Binaural Rendering, Occlusion, Physics-Based Reverb, Real-Time Propagation and Baked Reverb and Propagation.

Of course it is free for all Steam users across all platforms and is currently available as a plugin for Unity and as a C API for integration into custom engines and tools. Similarly, Steam Audio is available for use with a growing number of VR devices and platforms. Find everything you need at the steam github.