SPARTA is an open-source VST plugin collection for spatial audio production. The plugins are optimized for use in Reaper, but other DAWs on Windows, macOS, and Linux should be compatible.
The SPARTA VST plugin collection is brought to us by Aalto University in Finland. The collection was developed mainly by members of the university Acoustic Lab.
Before we get into the collection, we should note that the plugins are tested using Reaper. Reaper is the only recommended host for the SPARTA collection at the time of writing, although other hosts have worked.
I would assume user experience will vary depending on your DAW, so feel free to share. All plugins currently support 44.1kHz or 48kHz sample rates.
The SPARTA installer gives you three plugin suites; the SPARTA Suite, the COMPASS Suite, and the HO-DirAC Suite (plus a couple more).
If you look at the list of included plugins, you’ll see that there are far too many to discuss. But, it doesn’t take long to figure out that these plugins are intended for producers/musicians/audiophiles who are serious about acoustics.
The words binaural and ambisonic are used frequently in plugin descriptions, which isn’t surprising given the source of creation.
In short, you get a bunch of plugins that recreate, visualize or manipulate sound in a specific space. Whether you are trying to emulate a particular room through headphones or apply some fairly basic panning, you can do it here.
Of course, that description is purely meant as a vague summary; this collection has some very advanced tools.
When we talk about ambisonics, it’s about every nuance of a performance. If we take two iconic pianos, the Bösendorfer Concert Grand 290 Imperial and the Steinway Model D, both sound absolutely beautiful. But, it’s fair to say that each reacts to the room/space differently.
So, if you really get into recreating sound recorded in a particular space, it’s about the specific instrument as much as the room.
The SPARTA plugin collection has the tools to let you recreate the room and the reactions of the instrument, too. How you hear music determines the experience, and these plugins can help make it as immersive as possible.
My only concern is that if I were to dive too deep into such a project, I may not be seen in public for years and drive myself crazy obsessing over tiny details. Thankfully, there are people like Leo McCormack and the other developers who are far better equipped than I am.
I hope many people get a lot of use from this collection because it’s a pretty huge project that the developers put together.
More info: SPARTA (110 MB download size, ZIP archive containing EXE installer, 64-bit VST plugin format for Windows, macOS, Linux)