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Thunderspace for iPhone offers great 3D audio

Thunderspace for iPhone offers great 3D audioFor some reason that I don't understand, the sounds of a thunderstorm can be quite relaxing. You've probably had the experience of lying in bed while rain pelts a window and thunder rolls on and on. I'm getting sleepy just thinking about it.

Natural thunderstorms occur when they're going to occur. Wouldn't it be nice to create a remarkable facsimile whenever you like? That's what Thunderspace for iPhone (US$0.99) is here to do.

This app is the result of a collaboration between Taptanium and Emmy-award winning nature sound recordist, Gordon Hempton. The pair used special microphones to record sounds the way humans hear. That is, one channel for the left ear and one for the right, each with its own time and level variations. This lets our brains discern location, creating a "3D" effect. It really is impressive.

The app is very simple to use and comes with eight sounds. Three are ready to go and five are available via in-app purchase at $0.99 each. The included sounds -- Roof Garden and Waterscape -- feature rain and thunder. Waterscape adds running water of some sort, likely a stream, while Roof Garden features overhead protection of sorts. The rainwater sounds very realistic in both recordings.

My favorite sound is Desert, available via in-app purchase (note that you can preview sounds you haven't bought). It features a wind of varying intensity that really does sound like it's moving past / behind you. The thunder sounds are also quite effective.

Navigating Thunderspace is very easy. The main screen features a play / pause button and a lightning icon (more on that later). To browse the list of available sounds, swipe to the right (tip: swipe to the right again for a tip on using the app).

From the play screen, swipe down to reveal six buttons: Restore (for restoring purchases), Support, Share (let your friends know via social media), Rate, Play intro (a nice introduction) and Gift. Here's another tip: pull down again for a weather-related factoid, like, "The average speed of a raindrop is 17kph."

Now back to that icon. What's a thunderstorm without a light display? Tap the icon to engage lightning mode. Every now and then, as your virtual storm rages, your iPhone's flash will briefly fire, simulating a bolt. It's cute and kind of fun.

Thunderspace is similar to Naturespace, which also provides 3D audio to the iPhone, but Naturespace offers many other types of audio, not just thunderstorms. I like the tight focus in Thunderspace, however, and they're doing a good job. Grab a copy, put on some headphones and reeeeeelax.

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