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Old 18th September 2019
Lives for gear

From my experience, it's just not going to sound anywhere near as immersive when listened to on headphones as compared to a speaker array, regardless of what approach you take or software you use. I've never taken quadraphonic material into ambisonics, but I have a fair amount of experience building ambisonic mixes for headphones using ambisonic sources, spot mics, and sound design. I've tried every ambisonic to binaural decoder out there, and while the paid Blue Ripple headphone decoder sounds really good, it still doesn't convince me at all when it comes to height and front / rear differentiation. One of the best surround pieces I've heard was at Stanford a few years back, when CCRMA set up their biggest hemispherical speaker array in a huge room. I spoke afterwards with one of the professors whose piece really blew me away, and found out that he somehow took an old stereo mix and converted it into 7th order ambisonics. The immersion and feeling of pressure changing all around me were truly incredible, and I have no idea how he made that stereo mix come to life the way he did. Most of what I heard would probably bore me on headphones though...I'm a bit jaded at this point, but the best result you'll get will likely come from mixing in as high an order as possible, 3rd-7th maybe, listening on top shelf headphones with a personalized Sonarworks calibration for your exact headphones, decoded into binaural with a custom SOFA file that matches your HRTF.