Valve Quietly Acquires VR Audio Tech Company, Impulsonic

Valve recently acquired Impulsonic, a little-known audio technology company that created physics-based audio spatialization software for game developers.

Impulsonic’s current product, Phonon 3D, is a software utility that lets developers add binaural 3D audio to their 3D environments and VR experiences. Phonon 3D’s binaural 3D audio algorithm complements the head tracking information from VR HMDs to enhance the 3D audio experience. 

3D audio is a big part of virtual reality experiences, and companies are taking the issue seriously. The idea of immersive audio was a central theme at the ITA's Immersed conference in 2015, and it continues to be just as important today. Without a realistic sound profile, the immersive feeling of VR experiences falls flat. Impulsonic built Phonon 3D to make it easier for developers to incorporate 3D audio profiles.

Evidently, Valve saw value in Impulsonic’s technology. The game company purchased Impulsonic’s assets and absorbed the company’s development team to continue work on the technology. Valve didn’t announce the purchase of Impulsonic, but Impulsonic’s website spilled the beans.

“We haven’t been super-active on our blog or Twitter lately, and some of you have been wondering what we’ve been up to. Well, today, we’re excited to finally announce that Impulsonic has been acquired by Valve!” read the statement on Impulsonic’s home page.

Current Phonon users don’t have anything to worry about. Impulsonic said the transition to Valve wouldn't affect the software in any way. The company will have “more to announce soon.”

Impulsonic said its employees would be “transitioning to Valve HQ over the coming weeks,” but in the meantime, it’s still business as usual at Impulsonic. The company said that “work will continue uninterrupted” as the team moves to its new offices.

You can find the links for the Phonon 3D plugins and necessary documentation on Impulsonic’s website.

 Kevin Carbotte is a contributing writer for Tom's Hardware who primarily covers VR and AR hardware. He has been writing for us for more than four years. 

  • NiaNia
    Hope this means they will work on some more games. Even if they are VR.
  • coolitic
    Remember the good ol' days of EAX and PROPER binaural 3D sound? Not that virtual speaker garbage?

    Glad that they may be coming back now.
  • siuol11
    HL 2 HD remake inbound, now with 3d audio and $400 hat skins!
  • pocketdrummer
    They must need this for all those games they've been developing...

    oh wait...
  • iSoLateD1
    Aureal 3d Audio was better then EAX.