Quad Panner / Quadrophonic Surround with VBAP panner

Hi there!

A side topic of my work is quadrophonic surround. My dad had a Hifi amp by Marantz that could actually do this. Now for delivering audio to people in the form of files or streaming, which might be what most DAW users are doing, this is not so interesting, but I’m a live sound engineer mainly.

In terms of live sound, I made it to own a quadro surround reverb unit (Lexicon MX400) and I asked the maintainer of MixingStation to add a quad panner. Which he did – every digital mixing console that is supported by MixingStation can now do quadrophonic surround easily!

Now as for Ardour, I understand the VBAP panner, but what I don’t understand is: How to I place a signal right in the center of 4 speakers? So coming “out of the listeners head”?

For my usage scenarios it’s not about what might be a natural way of listening, it’s more like for doing crazy things like sounding art installations etc.

For various reasons I’m still on plain old version 6.7.0, but according to the manual the panner is still the same as of today?

Looking forward to ideas in quad panning.


The VBAP2D panner in Ardour (in a lot of aspects obsolete) is in fact “1D”: you can only pan the sound inside a line between two speakers.
After bypassing it, you can instead use plugins which use more suitable methods, including ambisonics, for instance like these, perfect for “crazy things” :

Thanks for the pointer. Yes, I think bypassing the panner and using specialized plugins could be an option.

So far I’ve been doing weird stuff in VCV Rack, and there’s this NYSTHI Quad Panner I use in VCV: VCV Library - NYSTHI QuadPanner

Is there something like this available as a plugin? I’m having a hard time googling…

There are many things on Ambisonics, Dolby Atmos, and whatnot. Sound systems manufacturers are doing immersive audio things with specialized controller DSPs. But the rather simple approach of quadrophonic audio seems somehow too simple to become true. For sure it has drawbacks, but one also need the speakers to do all of this, and 4 speakers, one in each corner of some space, is what is easy to get.

Moving sound around on a plane is two dimensional, not 1.

VBAP can do 3 dimensions too, but we never had the resources to develop some sort of GUI to allow control over the third dimension.

Ambisonics and VBAP each have their benefits for different purposes.

Hi Niels,

Ardour’s onboard panner is not very flexible if you want to do more than Stereo VBAP. You can never use more than 2 speakers with it.

For a simple solution you might try the x42 “Matrix Mixer 8x8”, but of course, the UI is not really meant for your purpose. Maybe if you combine it with some kind of X/Y Midi Control Pad?

The SPARTA Suite features a VBAP Panner, but for this, you really need to read the manual: