Valve announced Steam Audio today. While this was mainly designed for VR applications, Steam Audio can have a number of uses in non-VR games and non-gaming applications.

You can check out the Steam Audio SDK right now as a free beta.
Steam Audio is the product of many years of academic and industry research and development, and is designed to enhance all interactive products, specifically VR applications. It is the next generation of the Phonon spatial audio tools previously developed by Impulsonic, which is now part of Valve.

The Steam Audio SDK is available free of charge, without any royalty requirements. Supporting multiple platforms (Windows, Linux, macOS, Android), Steam Audio is not restricted to any particular VR device or to Steam.

Some samples and examples of what Steam Audio can do were posted to the Steam Audio Community Hub earlier today. We'll even include a few examples below because we can.
Steam Audio simulates how objects occlude sound sources. In addition to the typical raycast occlusion that many game engines already support, Steam Audio supports partial occlusion: if you can see part of a sound source, Steam Audio will only partly occlude the sound. Steam Audio uses your existing scene geometry to occlude sounds, so you don't need to create special occlusion geometry just for sounds.

Real-Time Sound Propagation
In reality, sound is emitted from a source, after which it bounces around through the environment, interacting with and reflecting off of various objects before it reaches the listener. Developers have wanted to model this effect, and tend to manually (and painstakingly!) approximate sound propagation using hand-tuned filters and scripts. Steam Audio automatically models these sound propagation effects.

Steam Audio simulates sound propagation in real time, so the effects can change automatically as sources move around the scene. Sounds interact with the actual geometry of the scene, so they feel integrated with the scene.

The rest of today's announcement can be read below.
The Steam Audio SDK currently supports the Unity engine and includes a C API for integration into other game engines and audio middleware.

"Adding Steam Audio to the arsenal of tools available to Unity developers gives them an easy solution for extending the acoustic depths of their VR and desktop creations, and is the latest result of our collaboration with Valve," said Tony Parisi, Head of VR/AR Strategy at Unity Technologies.

Meanwhile, Epic Games will be demoing Steam Audio in Unreal Engine technology at GDC next week.

"As a new plugin for the new Unreal Audio Engine, Steam Audio fundamentally extends its capabilities and provides a multi-platform solution to game audio developers who want to create realistic and high-quality sound propagation, reverberation modeling, and binaural spatialization for their games," said Aaron McLeran, audio programmer at Epic Games.

Steam Audio is an advanced spatial audio solution that uses physics-based sound propagation in addition to HRTF-based binaural audio for increased immersion. Spatial audio significantly improves immersion in VR; adding physics-based sound propagation further improves the experience by consistently recreating how sound interacts with the virtual environment.

"Valve is always trying to advance what the very best games and entertainment can offer," said Anish Chandak of Valve. "Steam Audio is a feature-rich spatial audio solution available to all developers, for use wherever and however they want to use it."