System Requirements

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If you find all this offputting, you just want something 'that works out of the box', etc., then there is an important 'cheat' suggestion below, which may, or may not, 'be for you'.



PERL is required by all these packages. It must be one of the most widely installable sets of software in existence. The Perl website says:

Binary distributions of Perl are available for various platforms, including Win32 (Windows NT/95/2000/XP), Mac, and Unix.

These packages were developed/tested on v5.8.8. Many have been run on v5.6.1 (?2001 release). There is nothing subtle in the Perl programming and they would probably run on much earlier versions. (Perl is that well 'finished' it will fail very informatively if your version of it is really too old.)


SoX, SOund eXchange, is not needed for all these packages (see below for a guide). SoX states on its website:

Sox has been tested under Linux, Solaris, and Windows 9x and I have received success reports for various other platforms such as Irix and OS/2.

The file INSTALL which is in the distribution also has instructions for compiling Sox with Microsoft's Visual C.

The generic POSIX instructions presumably apply to Mac as much as Linux … so there should be a solution for almost everyone …

These packages were originally developed on v13.0.0, but then moving onto v14.0.0

Computer (hardware)

None of Ambisuite works in 'real time'. The programs just plod on doing their manipulations until they are done. If it takes ten hours to convert a ten minute sound clip (it doesn't), then just leave it overnight. But unless your machine is really museum fodder it should return results almost immediately (unless you are manipulating really large files, and then in minutes).

The important point is there is no minimum speed. It's nice to have, but that is all. (And, if you do want to speed up, more RAM may be a better/cheaper investment than a new processor.)

Nice extras


Audacity is a very nice graphical interface audio editor. Certainly not the most sophisticated, but it is free, and also very cross-platform. (I recently saw it sold with a 12-inch vinyl player kit, for ripping all your old LPs!)

You do not need it (nor do you need a soundcard!) for any of these packages, but if you want to see what you have done in a pictorial way, it is more than useful.

The Audacity website says:

Audacity is free, open source software for recording and editing sounds. It is available for Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows, GNU/Linux, and other operating systems.


This table gives the requirements, application by application. It also states what order ambisonic files it will work with ('∞' means it should work on any order (some have been tested on dummy order-5 files!)).

program order
--a2b 1 PerlSoX ≥14.0.1
--b2a 1 PerlSoX ≥14.0.1
--mix PerlSoX
--place 3 PerlSoX
--shake 1 PerlSoX ≥14.0.1
--wxy2amb 1 PerlSoX
--yaw 3 PerlSoX
--yawing 1 PerlSoX

NOTE: There was a bug in SoX v14.0.0 that interfered with some operations. You should use the latest release (14.0.1 at the time of writing).
The next release (likely to be numbered SoX 14.1.0) will write *.amb files and Ambisuite is due to be recoded accordingly. This will greatly simplify the code and its usage. If you cannot wait … then you can hack 14.0.1 so it does the trick. I did the following:

  1. Download sox-14.0.1.tar.gz from SoX's site.
  2. Unpack it (something like:
    gunzip sox-14.0.1.tar.gz
    tar -xvf sox-14.0.1.tar

  3. Get ready to replace the old wav.c file. You could just overwrite it, but if you do not like the results, backing it up gives you the option of going back! Something like:
    cd sox-14.0.1/src/
    mv wav.c wav-c.bak
  4. Download the new wav.c from here. (This is part of the SoX distribution their (generous) licence applies.) Then move it into the unpacked SoX, something like:
    mv wav.c sox-14.0.1/src/
  5. Then install SoX as normal (see sox-14.0.1/README and sox-14.0.1/INSTALL, but probably just:
    cd sox-14.0.1/
    make install

  6. Many thanks to Robs of the SoX Development Team both for the new file and for his personal help in my creating it from the diff(!)

If all else fails … cheat

If the idea of installing software gives you a bad feeling, then for about ten euros (or other currency units), if you have a PC with a DVD drive and a USB socket, and … a USB stick … there is a solution.

It does though involve a 'leap of faith', but don't let that put you off … the easy way out?

Download AMBISUITE (the 'suite' of all the above ambisonic programs):

Available via the main index page.

March 2008.

Copyright © 2007 Michael Chapman.