Running the SSR

Common Options

Before you start the SSR, start JACK, e.g. by typing jackd -d alsa -r 44100 in a shell or using the graphical user interface “qjackctl”. Now, the easiest way to get a signal out of the SSR is by passing a sound-file directly:


By default, the SSR starts with the binaural renderer; please use headphones for listening with this renderer. Type ssr --help to get an overview of the command line options and various renderers:

USAGE: ssr [OPTIONS] <scene-file>

The SoundScape Renderer (SSR) is a tool for real-time spatial audio
reproduction providing a variety of rendering algorithms.


Choose a rendering algorithm:
    --binaural         Binaural (using HRIRs)
    --brs              Binaural Room Synthesis (using BRIRs)
    --wfs              Wave Field Synthesis
    --aap              Ambisonics Amplitude Panning
    --dca              Distance-coded Ambisonics (experimental!)
    --vbap             Stereophonic (Vector Base Amplitude Panning)
    --generic          Generic Renderer

Renderer-specific options:
    --hrirs=FILE       Load the HRIRs for binaural renderer from FILE
    --hrir-size=VALUE  Maximum IR length (binaural and BRS renderer)
    --prefilter=FILE   Load WFS prefilter from FILE
-o, --ambisonics-order=VALUE Ambisonics order to use (default: maximum)
    --in-phase-rendering     Use in-phase rendering for Ambisonics

JACK options:
-n, --name=NAME        Set JACK client name to NAME
    --input-prefix=PREFIX    Input  port prefix (default: "system:capture_")
    --output-prefix=PREFIX   Output port prefix (default: "system:playback_")
-f, --freewheel        Use JACK in freewheeling mode

General options:
-c, --config=FILE      Read configuration from FILE
-s, --setup=FILE       Load reproduction setup from FILE
    --threads=N        Number of audio threads (default N=1)
-r, --record=FILE      Record the audio output of the renderer to FILE
    --loop             Loop all audio files
                       Correction of the master volume in dB (default: 0 dB)
    --auto-rotation    Auto-rotate sound sources' orientation toward the reference
    --no-auto-rotation Don't auto-rotate sound sources' orientation toward the reference
-i, --ip-server[=PORT] Start IP server (default on)
                       A port can be specified: --ip-server=5555
-I, --no-ip-server     Don't start IP server
                       ASCII code for character to end messages with
                       (default 0 = binary zero)
-g, --gui              Start GUI (default)
-G, --no-gui           Don't start GUI
-t, --tracker=TYPE     Start tracker, possible value(s):
                       fastrak patriot vrpn razor
                       A serial port can be specified, e.g. /dev/ttyS1
-T, --no-tracker       Don't start tracker

-h, --help             Show this very help information. You just typed that!
-v, --verbose          Increase verbosity level (up to -vvv)
-V, --version          Show version information and exit

Choose the appropriate arguments and make sure that your amplifiers are not turned too loud…

To stop the SSR use either the options provided by the GUI (Section GUI) or type Crtl+c in the shell in which you started the SSR.

Keyboard actions in non-GUI mode

If you start SSR without GUI (option --no-gui), it starts automatically replaying the scene that you have loaded. You can have some interaction via the shell. Currently implemented actions are (all followed by Return):

  • c: calibrate tracker (if available)
  • p: start playback
  • q: quit application
  • r: “rewind”; go back to the beginning of the current scene
  • s: stop (pause) playback

Note that in non-GUI mode, audio processing is always taking place. Live inputs are processed even if you pause playback.

Recording the SSR output

You can record the audio output of the SSR using the --record=FILE command line option. All output signals (i.e. the loudspeaker signals) will be recorded to a multichannel wav-file named FILE. The order of channels corresponds to the order of loudspeakers specifed in the reproduction setup (see Sections Reproduction Setups and ASDF). The recording can then be used to analyze the SSR output or to replay it without the SSR using a software player like “ecaplay” (

Configuration Files

The general configuration of the SSR (whether GUI is enabled, which tracker to use, and most other command line arguments) can be specified in a configuration file (e.g. ssr.conf). By specifying your settings in such a file, you avoid having to give explicit command line options every time you start the SSR. We have added the example data/ssr.conf.example, which mentions all possible parameters. Take a look inside, it is rather self-explanatory. There are three possibilities to specify a configuration file:

Configuration files are loaded in the following order, if certain options are specified more than once, the last occurrence counts. This means that it is not the last file that is loaded that counts but rather the last occurrence at which a given setting is specified.

  1. /Library/SoundScapeRenderer/ssr.conf
  2. /etc/ssr.conf
  3. $HOME/Library/SoundScapeRenderer/ssr.conf
  4. $HOME/.ssr/ssr.conf
  5. the path(s) specified with the --config/-c option(s) (e.g., ssr -c my_config.file)

We explicitly mention one parameter here that might be of immediate interest for you: MASTER_VOLUME_CORRECTION. This a correction in dB (!) that is applied – as you might guess – to the master volume. The motivation is to have means to adopt the general perceived loudness of the reproduction of a given system. Factors like the distance of the loudspeakers to the listener or the typical distance of virtual sound sources influence the resulting loudness, which can be adjusted to the desired level by means of the MASTER_VOLUME_CORRECTION. Of course, there’s also a command line alternative (--master-volume-correction).

Head Tracking

We provide integration of the InterSense InertiaCube3 tracking sensor, the Polhemus Fastrak and the Polhemus Patriot. They are used to update the orientation of the reference (in binaural reproduction this is the listener) in real-time. Please read Sections Preparing Intersense and Preparing Polhemus if you want to compile the SSR with the support for these trackers.

Note that on startup, the SSR tries to find the tracker. If it fails, it continues without it. If you use a tracker, make sure that you have the appropriate rights to read from the respective port.

You can calibrate the tracker while the SSR is running by pressing Return. The instantaneous orientation will then be interpreted as straight forward, i.e. upwards on the screen (\(\alpha = 90^\circ\)).

Preparing InterSense InertiaCube3

If you want to compile the SSR with support for the InterSense InertiaCube3 tracking sensor, please download the InterSense Software Development Kit (SDK) from the InterSense website (; Support → Downloads → Development and Troubleshooting Tools). Unpack the archive and place the files

  • isense.h and types.h to /usr/local/include, and
  • (the version appropriate for your processor type) to usr/local/lib.

The SSR configuration script will automatically detect the presence of the files described above and if they are found, enable the compilation for the support of this tracker. To disable this tracker, use ./configure --disable-intersense and recompile.

If you encounter an error-message similar to cannot open shared object file: No such file or directory, but the file is placed correctly, run ldconfig.

Make sure that you have the required access rights to the tracker before starting SSR. For you are using the USB connection type

sudo chmod a+rw /dev/ttyUSBX

whereby X can be any digit or number. If you are not sure which port is the tracker then unplug the tracker, type

ls /dev/ttyUSB*

replug the tracker, execute above command again and see which port was added. That one is the tracker. It’s likely that it is the one whose name contains the highest number.

Preparing Polhemus Fastrak/Patriot

For incorporation of the Polhemus Fastrak/Patriot with serial connection, no additional libraries are required. Make sure that you have the required access rights to the tracker before starting SSR by typing something like

sudo chmod a+rw /dev/ttyS0


sudo chmod a+rw /dev/ttyS1

or so.

If you want to disable this tracker, use ./configure --disable-polhemus and recompile.

Preparing VRPN

In order to use Virtual Reality Peripheral Network (VRPN) compatible trackers create a config file vrpn.cfg with one of the following lines (or similar)

vrpn_Tracker_Fastrak MyFastrak /dev/ttyUSB0 115200
vrpn_Tracker_Fastrak MyOtherFastrak COM1 115200
vrpn_Tracker_Liberty MyPatriot /dev/ttyUSB1 115200

… and start vrpn_server. You can choose the name of the Tracker arbitrarily. Then, start the SSR with the given Tracker name, e.g.:

ssr-binaural --tracker=vrpn --tracker-port=MyFastrak@localhost

If the tracker runs on a different computer, use its hostname (or IP address) instead of localhost. You can of course select your head tracker settings by means of Configuration Files.

Using the SSR with DAWs

As stated before, the SSR is currently not able to dynamically replay audio files (refer to Section ASDF). If your audio scenes are complex, you might want to consider using the SSR together with a digital audio work station (DAW). To do so, you simply have to create as many sources in the SSR as you have audio tracks in your respective DAW project and assign live inputs to the sources. Amongst the ASDF examples we provide on SSR website you’ll find an scene description that does exactly this.

DAWs like Ardour ( support JACK and their use is therefore straightforward. DAWs which do not run on Linux or do not support JACK can be connected via the input of the sound card.

In the future we will provide a VST plug-in which will allow you to dynamically operate all virtual source’s properties (like e.g. a source’s position or level etc.). You will then be able to have the full SSR functionality controlled from your DAW.

Using the SSR with different audio clients

This page contains some short description how to connect your own audio files with the SSR using different audio players.

VLC Media Player

How to connect the SSR in binaural playback mode with the own audio library using Jack and VLC Media Player:

After installing Jack and the SSR (with all needed components: see :ref:` Configuring and Compiling <configuring>`) it is necessary to install the VLC Media Player with its Jack plugin (for example UBUNTU):

  1. sudo apt-get install vlc vlc-plugin-jack

    (or use the packet manager of your choice instead of the command line and install: vlc and vlc-plugin-jack)

2. After installing open VLC Media Player and navigate to Tools->Preferences Select “All” on the bottom left corner In the appearing menu on the left navigate to “Audio”->”Output Module” and extend it by using “+”

3. In the submenu of “Output Module” select “JACK” and replace “system” by ” Binaural-Renderer” in the “Connect to clients matching”-box. Do not forget to enable “Automatically connect to writable clients” above. (Otherwise you have to connect the audio output of vlc with the SSR input after every played audio file using jack.)

(Note: If you want to use another Renderer, e.g. for WFS, you have to enter “WFS-Renderer” in the box)

  1. Save your changes.

  2. Start everything together using the command line:

    qjackctl -s & vlc & ssr --gui /"path_of_your_scene_file(s)"/stereo.asd &
    This will start jack, vlc and the ssr with the GUI and a provided stereo
    scene (TODO: LINK) (stereo.asd)
  3. Open an audio file in vlc and press play





Using the GUI

  1. Run the JackPilot and hit start.
  2. Double-click the SoundScape Renderer icon icon, select the renderer type, and off you go!

When the SSR is started, a Terminal window displaying the standard SSR output is automatically opened. If the SSR closes with an error, it remains open for you to inspect the error messages.

The SSR and JACK must have the same sampling rate, otherwise error will be generated.

More options can be specified by using the config file. The details of using the config file is described on the Section Configuration Files.

Running via the Command Line (Terminal)

The application bundle is more convenient, but brings limitations when using the command line. The included start script changes the working directory to the directory that includes the SSR application bundle, so only absolute paths should be used on the command line.

What can be done using configuration files, should be done using configuration files.

Both JACK and the SSR can be started on the command line by using:

open -a JackPilot
open -a SoundScapeRenderer

If the SSR is placed in /Applications (or $HOME/Applications) and was run several times already, OS X should find it. If not, you would have to specify the full path, i.e.

open /Applications/SoundScapeRenderer-0.4.0/

The SSR starts with a prompt for renderer selection, with the default renderer set on the Binaural renderer. As mentioned above in Section Configuration Files, more options at the start up can be specified using the configuration file.

To start the SSR using a different renderer module and skip the prompt for the selection do:

open -a SoundScapeRenderer --args --binaural

Of course, instead of --binaural, you can also use any of the other available renderers (e.g. --wfs for Wave Field Synthesis). To see all available command line arguments (specifying a renderer skips the prompt for renderer selection):

open -a SoundScapeRenderer --args --binaural "--help"


The arguments other than the renderer selection have to be enclosed in quotation marks ("")!

To load a scene do:

open -a SoundScapeRenderer --args --binaural "/absolute/path/to/scene.asd"


Paths have to be absolute!

To load a scene that has spaces in its path name do:

open -a SoundScapeRenderer --args --binaural "/path/to/file\ with\ spaces.asd"


Spaces have to be escaped using backslashes!

In addition to the config files in standard locations mentioned above, you can also specify a config file on the command line:

open -a SoundScapeRenderer --args --binaural "--config=my_config_file.conf"

When you want to record the output of the SSR and play it back again, you should always provide the .wav extension of the file name, along with the absolute path of your desired destination location for the file. As an example, if you want to run the SSR and record the output to a file name output.wav, you would need the command given below:

open -a SoundScapeRenderer --args --binaural "--record=/tmp/output.wav"

But if you use a relative path instead of the absolute path, the file that contains the output of the SSR will be saved inside the directory of the SoundScape Renderer in the Applications folder.

If you want to start more than one instance of SSR, then add the -n option to the call of open for all instances other than the first one:

open -n -a SoundScapeRenderer --binaural

Using a Head-Tracker

Running with InterSense tracker support

Due to copyright reasons, the SSR does not come with a built-in InterSense tracker support. So first you have to build the SSR with InterSense tracker support yourself or ask someone to do it for you.

If you are using a USB-to-Serial interface with your tracker, you need to install drivers for that. This seems to work fine for the interface made by InterSense:

To check if the system sees the tracker do:

ls -l /dev/tty.usb*

On the MacBooks tested, the serial ports were called /dev/tty.usbserial- 00001004 or /dev/tty.usbserial-00002006 depending on which USB port was used.

To make the SSR use the InterSense tracker with these ports, you have two options:

Using the command line (only one port can be specified):

open -a SoundScapeRenderer --args --binaural "--tracker=intersense

… or using config files:

Add these lines to a config file (multiple ports can be specified):

TRACKER = intersense
TRACKER_PORTS = /dev/tty.usbserial-XXXXXXXX /dev/tty.usbserial-YYYYYYYY

It’s recommended to use the config file approach - best use a global :ref:` config file<ssr_configuration_file>`.

Running with Razor AHRS tracker support

If you happen not to own a Polhemus or InterSense tracker to do your head- tracking, an alternative would be to use our DIY low-cost Razor AHRS tracker.

If you have Arduino installed on you machine, FTDI drivers will be there too. Otherwise get the driver from .

To check if the system sees the tracker do:

ls -l /dev/tty.usb*

This should give you something like /dev/tty.usbserial-A700eEhN.

To make the SSR use this Razor AHRS tracker, you have two options:

Using the command line:

open -a SoundScapeRenderer --args --binaural "--tracker=razor

… or using config files:

Add these lines to a config file:

TRACKER = intersense
TRACKER_PORTS = /dev/tty.usbserial-XXXXXXXX

It’s recommended to use the config file approach - best use a global config file.