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Pros and Cons of Unity + FMOD (surround sound, etc)

Discussion in 'Audio & Video' started by Steve-Tack, Apr 26, 2015.

  1. Steve-Tack

    Steve-Tack

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2013
    Posts:
    1,240
    To my dismay, it seems that both Unity 4.6 and Unity 5.0 are flaky when detecting surround sound capabilities. There isn't a lot of chatter about this issue for some reason, but there is some:
    http://forum.unity3d.com/threads/7-1-5-1-surround-sound.281989/

    I built some small test projects in both of those Unity versions with a 3D sound rotating around a listener and displayed the detected audio capabilities ("caps") on the screen. On my PC hooked to a 5.1 receiver, Unity detected only stereo with both builds. I tried the same thing in Unity 5.0 using the FMOD integration, and surround sound did work with that.

    The sad thing is, I believe Unity uses some flavor of FMOD internally for their audio engine anyway, so it's puzzling that the behavior is that much different.

    I'm tempted to switch to FMOD for better surround sound support alone, but I'm a bit nervous. The audio in my current game is already working (I use Master Audio, which is a front end to the built-in Unity audio), so it would take some work.

    So does anyone have experience with Unity + FMOD? FMOD is free to use if your game budget is under $100k. Here's what I see as the pros and cons. Any others?

    FMOD Pros:

    Surround sound "just works". This alone may be reason enough to switch.
    Some nice tools, like 3D sound preview and profiling.

    FMOD Cons:

    There is a learning curve on FMOD Studio
    Converting all existing audio over could be a lot of work
    Not integrated into Unity
    Doesn't work in web players (not a concern on my current project)
    Unknown if there would be issues when porting to platforms like PS4


    I realize that audio isn't generally a popular topic, and 5.1/7.1 surround sound even less so. But there should be more passion about this, especially in the age of VR where immersive audio is going to be more and more important.
     
    TheOwl likes this.
  2. Steve-Tack

    Steve-Tack

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2013
    Posts:
    1,240
    Just a quick followup on this. I haven't actually run into any major "gotchas" with FMOD yet. I imported all of my audio into FMOD Studio and tweaked everything and I have replaced a few sound effects in my game so far. Turns out you can use FMOD along with Unity audio (I use Master Audio as a front end to that), which is nice, since it means I can slowly transition to FMOD.

    The "not integrated into Unity" thing turns out not to be a big deal. It's easy to refresh the content. And apparently there's even a way to tweak audio in FMOD Studio while your game is running! I haven't tried that, but wow.
     
  3. jerotas

    jerotas

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2011
    Posts:
    5,573
    I'd be interested to know what support you can get for the free version of FMod, if any. The capabilities are there obviously, but a complex product without support wouldn't be acceptable to me and I think most users in general. I know that Fabric has the same clause (free for projects under $100k) but no technical support at all for instance, as shown here.

    http://www.tazman-audio.co.uk/#!licensing/c1df1

    I realize you don't really have many alternatives when Unity is so flaky on the surround sound. Still, it's good to know about support for those times when you may not find anyone to help.