3D sounds with the Google Earth Plug-in

Paul over at PlanetInAction is at it again. The man that brought us Ships and Helicopters has a new toy for us to play with. This is more of tech demo than a game, but it’s quite impressive.
He’s simply calling it a 3D sound demo. Here is a brief video of it in action:

You can read the full write-up on his site, but here’s the basics of it:

sound3D manages a collection of soundSource objects that have knowledge of the location they are at. A soundSource has a collection of channels. Each channel represents a sound file with associated falloff range. Outside this range the channel can not be heard.

Multiple sound channels per sound source enables you to use different sounding audio files for nearby and far away. The “far” file should sound more muffled and have a longer falloff range. These audio effects can be prepared in a sound editor such as Audacity.

The helicopter on the beach is a great example showing how this works. Move in close and notice how the engine sounds louder but also sharper.

Be sure to check out the PlanetInAction site for more info.

About Mickey Mellen

Mickey has been using Google Earth since it was released in 2005, and has created a variety of geo-related sites including Google Earth Hacks. He runs a web design firm in Marietta, GA, where he lives with his wife and two kids.


  1. Place-based webcams are great in Google Earth. Perhaps this will usher in place-based webmics?

  2. Awesome. I tried to do this with some mp3’s playing in itunes, but sometimes you hear trains in the amazon and wildlife in canary wharf so it never really worked.

  3. Am I missing something here? Is there a download link on that site or is it just a rolling demo for now?

  4. Could you add that Paul got the inspiration from my 3Dsound.js?
    It’s great to see that my idea realized in a more professional and solid code!

  5. Aerilius — No problem, done. Thanks!

  6. Paul van Dinther says:

    Hi Aerilius, very cool that you did a sound program on Google Earth. There are far to few Google Earth API developers out there. However your claim that I was inspired by your work invalid. I launched “Ships” in May 2009 and it had 3D sound then already. That is over a year before you published your program.
    It is important to me to be recognised as innovative and original so I felt the need to put this straight.

  7. Sorry, I was confused that we chose several identical file names and variable names without knowing of each other.
    It’s great that you made it as professional code and I believe now the Google Earth developers will recognize what a huge influence another sensory perception (hearing) has on immersion into virtual worlds!

  8. sittingduck says:

    But I still thought of it in Switzerland eh, or did you beat me to the punch Aerilius? 🙂

  9. Send that guy a Space Navigator!! lol

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