Ever wondered what it might sound like to walk with dinosaurs? What about creating a feeling of serenity and meditating in a Hindu temple; or getting all the feels of an idyllic getaway without leaving the comfort of your favorite spot on the sofa?
These are some of the soundscapes I've been able to experience over the last few weeks using an app called Ammersive that opens up a world of 3D audio experiences through its growing library of spatial audio soundscapes.
Whether it's a grizzly encounter, being buried alive, or just the sounds of someone taking a hot bath, Ammersive's expanding spatial audio content library brings thrills and chills in equal measure.
Entering a new world with the help of spatial audio
Although I've been sifting through remixed Dolby Atmos versions of songs to discover the best spatial audio tracks around, I only recently learned about Ammersive after co-creator Jamie Bell got in touch with Tom's Guide and asked me to try it out. I'm glad he did, because it's been a lot of fun.
Ammersive launched in August 2022 and is free to download for iOS and Android devices. Its growing selection of soundscapes push the boundaries of spatial audio to achieve immersive soundtracks that put you right at the heart of a three-dimensional audio experience.
Much like the best music streaming services that enable subscribers to stream songs and albums from a comprehensive music library, the Ammersive app has a library of 3D soundscapes rather than songs. Created using 360-degree spatial audio techniques, Ammersive's library of content presents listeners with sonic soundscapes designed to suit their mood, or chosen encounter, and transports you to an immersive world through the power of sound.
Sometimes the soundscapes are designed for fun listening experiences and stimulating encounters, while others are about reaching a more mindful state through calming and relaxing three-dimensional recordings.
Sound that helps alter your state of mind
It's entirely coincidence that I'm covering the Ammersive app during mental health awareness month, but the timing feels like a fortunate discovery. I can't applaud the Ammersive creative team enough for the sonic display of relaxing sounds that have helped to quieten my mind from what I can only describe as thought chatter, as well as the number of enchanting journeys I've been able to encounter, too.
Whether we realize it or not, I am sure we’ve all experienced music’s mood-enhancing capabilities when listening to our favorite tunes, and Ammersive's recordings are an effective tool using sound associations to either stimulate or relax the mind.
Subscribers get an extensive library of tracks that run from a couple of minutes up to 15 minutes in length. Some tracks are designed to have a calming effect for a sense of wellbeing, while others allow your mind to travel to worlds outside of your comfort zone for fun or thrills with a storyline or narrative.
Ammersive's sound designers and voice artists from around the world have successfully brought situations to life that can enhance your mind and mood, whether that's being locked inside a creepy cabin, exploring different worlds, or inducing a calming mindful state through listening to relaxing sounds.
Ammersive 3D sound app with head tracking
I've been listening on some of the best headphones and best wireless earbuds, of course. So far, I've listened to the app using the AirPods Pro 2 and AirPods Max headphones. I've been impressed by the sense of realism I've felt at being transported off to different environments, all without leaving the comfort of my chair. My choice of earbuds and headphones meant I was able try out Ammersive content with Apple's head tracking capabilities, which brought an extra dimension to some of the creepier soundscape encounters I tried.
To create the soundscapes, Ammersive's sound designers employ a variety of setups that allow them to manipulate sound sources in the 360-degree space, and binaural microphones are also used for field recordings. Ammersive says that it strives for the highest quality audio possible to offer hyper immersive experiences, and that all tracks are recorded at 24-bit/96kHz hi-res.
Not everything is mixed to perfection, though. Sometimes the soundscapes could be more subtle (less is very often more when it comes to believable soundscapes), and some sound effects can occasionally feel gratuitous and overblown. Whether the soundscapes are entirely convincing or not, without question, everything I heard took me on an engaging, and sometimes chilling journey that was a great distraction from the day-to-day. Ammersive is a fascinating listening experience, just don't go listening to Buried Alive while you're alone or in the dark.
Ammersive 3D sound app: How to get it
Ammersive is available to download on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store for free. There are lots of sounds in the free app, and the library is expanding all the time, but you only get 15-30-second previews. That's enough for a taster, but the Premium plan unlocks the full library of soundscapes and lets you subscribe to specific creators, as well as download files for offline listening.
The Premium plan costs $5.49 / £4.99 / AU$8.49 per month, or $44.99/ £39.99 / AU$68.99 per year (a 33% saving on the monthly subscription).