Ambisonics

In a recent Technical Report we were assigned to explore the differences between Ambisonics and multi-channel audio setups. Having no real sound experience, it was a whole new world of reading, and I found a way to possibly apply this technique to new projects.

Michael Gerzon is considered the father of ambisonics, and developed the technique in the 60s and 70s. Broadly speaking, Ambisonics is a surround sound encoding technique that also gives verticality to a sound, and allows the listener to move around within a sound field. We are mostly used to the cheaper, and more popular multi-channel Dolby Surround etc, which actually have a ‘sweet spot’, your ears need to be in an exact position for the surround to work correctly, and added to this have a ‘speaker hole’ issue, meaning that sound emmitting from a speaker beyond a certain angle will be absorbed by the casing of the speaker.

Ambisonics setups create a sound field in a space, where the listener can walk around without fear of losing the sweet spot. This is idea for my area, as we frequently are housed in exhibitions where the public walks through. With further reading, I hope to be able to explore the idea of ambisonics in our future work. Ambisonic systems are making a resurgence in popularity, primarily due to the development of Virtual Reality.

Within our work, we capture ancient Irish cultural sites, forts, ruins and the like, and to capture a Virtual Reality performance and completely immerse the viewer in a three dimensional sound field appeals to me.

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