Blaž Pavlica: DIY ambisonic dome

Ambisonics is a spherical surround sound format, which in addition to the horizontal level also contains sounds above and below the perceiver. Unlike other formats, its channels do not carry signals for individual speakers, but a representation of a spherical sound field, which is independent from the number of speakers. As a result, it allows the sound producer to think about the spherical origin of sounds and doesn’t have to deal with the final sound reproduction. In addition, it allows more freedom in the speaker placement, as signals representing the sound field can be decoded into any sound system.

The format was developed as early as the 1970s, and is recently gaining popularity again. There are three reasons for this:

  • patent expiration, which brought to many open source and proprietary software implementations,
  • the applicability of the format in the field of virtual reality,
  • as the development of sound processing, recording and production quality is reaching a limit, it becomes more interesting to develop sound spaciousness (HiFidelity <HiSpatiality)

The DIY ambison dome will be a matrix of 8 speakers placed on the dome, which was developed and used as part of PifLab and past PIFcamps.

Encoding and decoding will be done by using SuperCollider and Reaper DAW environments. Testing will involve playing, listening to and testing different algorithms for manipulating the sound field and different decoders into an array of 8 speakers. The aim of the project is to document the setup, the necessary resources and the quality of an affordable ambisonics sound format system.