Creating audio zones - non-activated snapshots affect base sounds

I’m working on creating six different audio zones in Unity using FMOD. When a user enters one of these zones, the SFX group (containing all sounds) is manipulated to produce specific sound effects. For example, I’ve defined five (sound) events in the FMOD Event Editor - a balloon pop, door opening, door closing, some music and footsteps. In the mixer, I’ve created an SFX group that includes all five sounds. I’ve created as a first audiozone an “underwater” snapshot with lowpass and reverb effects. My approach is to load this snapshot when the player enters one of the audio zone and hear in that zone the sounds in the way it’s configured in the snapshot - this part is working. So in short, the SFX group is being affected by unconfigured reverb and lowpass effects, even when outside of the designated audio zones.

However, even when the snapshot is not active, like when the user is still in the lobby (outside of an audio zone), the sounds, such as footsteps, are slightly altered. They don’t sound normal nor like they are in the snapshot, which I suspect is due to the SFX group still applying unconfigured reverb and lowpass effects even when the snapshot is inactive. Each snapshot puts on effects to a group/bus - and even if they are not configured, they have an effect. I would like that none of the used effects that are configured in the snapshots have an affect when the snapshot is not playing.

I’m considering using a bypass and activating only the effects when a snapshot is active , but I’m not sure how to implement this at this point. But there might be better ideas.

What would be the best practice approach in this situation, where I have a lobby and six audio zones, each with different effects, affecting all sounds but not having the issues (neutral sounds; none effects whatsoever) when I am in a neutral place like the lobby?

So, you want the reverb and lowpass effects to have no audible effect on your sounds when none of your snapshot are active?

In that case, scope the reverb effect’s dry level and wet level, as well as the lowpass effect’s cutoff frequency, into each of your snapshots. Then, that ensure no snapshots are selected in the mixer window, and set the reverb effect’s dry level to 0 dB, its wet level to -oo dB, and the lowpass effect’s cutoff frequency to 22.0 kHz. This should ensure that those effects have no discernible effect on the signal when no snapshots are playing.

All the effects on every mixer bus always exist; they aren’t specific to snapshots. Snapshots can only change property values of effects. Thus, if you set their property values such that they have no discernible effect when no snapshot is playing, but designed your snapshots such that they set those effects’ properties to values where they’ll have a discernible effect while the snapshot is playing, you should get the behavior you want.

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Thanks Joseph, you helped me a lot here! That actually worked! And your background information was super useful! :grin:

I discovered that the problem stemmed from the snapshot still being active and I was unaware of the concept of “neutral values” that have no auditory impact. Applying this to the reverb and lowpass settings has worked wonderfully.

Now, moving forward, I’m planning to experiment the coming next days with additional effects to simulate various acoustical environments. Could you possibly direct me to any resources or documentation that detail these “neutral” values for other effects (like distortion,chorus and so on)? Maybe you could write them shortly down – but only if it wouldn’t burden you too much.

I would like to set them up the same way as the reverb (wet level to -oo dB) and lowpass (cutoff frequency to 22.0 kHz). Knowing what the “neutral values” are for the other available effects would be super helpful and would solve my issue completely.

Thanks a lot Joseph and have a nice day!

As of the time of writing (January of 2024), we have yet to release any documentation containing this information.

In fact, there are actually a few effects that don’t have the kind of neutral values you describe, as such effects always affect the signal in some way. (We’re planning to add wet/dry levels to all effects in a future version of FMOD Studio in order to resolve this issue.)

If you know what the effects do, it’s not hard to work out those values. For example, a lowpass filter alters frequencies higher than its cutoff property - so if you set the cutoff frequency to the highest possible value, it won’t affect any frequencies. Similiarly, the “wet level” and “dry level” of an effect represents the “wet” (i.e.: affected by the effect) and “dry” (not affected by the effect) versions of the signal, so setting dry level to full volume and wet level to inaudible volume results in the signal being unaffected by that effect.

If there are specific effects you’re interested in and you’re not sure what the appropriate values are, just let us know, and we’ll let you know how best to mimimize the impact they have on the signal.

A universal solution that works for all effects is to create two separate return buses, put all your effects on one of them, and then use two different sends to automate which of those return buses recieves an audible signal.

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Thanks a lot again!

The universal solution is tad untidy and didn’t work in my favour since I have about six different audio zones; activating a snapshot would be the best in my case.

If there are specific effects you’re interested in and you’re not sure what the appropriate values are, just let us know, and we’ll let you know how best to mimimize the impact they have on the signal.

At the moment I am using Chorus, Compressor, 3-EQ, Delay, Limited and Gain. Do you can give me some guidance here for some neutral values because at the moment I didn’t figure them out rightly.

We’re planning to add wet/dry levels to all effects in a future version of FMOD Studio in order to resolve this issue.)

That would be very neat!

Thanks again Joseph and have a very nice weekend! Cheers!

  • For the chorus effect, set Mix to 0%.
  • For the compressor effect, set Threshold to 0 dB.
  • For the 3-EQ effect, set low, mid, and high to 0 dB.
  • For the delay effect, set the wet level to -oo dB and the dry level to 0 dB.
  • For the limiter effect, set the input and ceiling to 0 dB.
  • For the gain effect, set gain to 0 dB.

I should clarify that specific types of signal may not be totally unchanged, even with these property values. In most cases, though, the difference should be negligible.

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It has been a while since I’ve asked you and since then I didn’t work on the project much further but now I am getting back into it. Thanks to you I was able to achieve my desired result. Thanks for your answers and patience joseph!

Have a nice weekend!