WFS and Ambisonic Systems in the Espace de Projection

  • Sound Workshop

The Wave Field Synthesis (WFS) technique is type of holophonic reproduction process that enables, by analogy with visual holograms, to capture or synthesize a sound scene while conserving the spatial characteristics of distance and direction.

This approach, initiated by the University of Delft, goes well beyond the limits of conventional systems in terms of reproduction fidelity in a wide listening zone. While traditional stereophonic techniques (e.g. stereo, 5.1) are a kind of trompe-l’œil and can only be truly appreciated when one is positioned in the center of the system, the goal of holophonic technology is to reproduce a sound field in which listeners can move freely while maintaining a coherent perception of the localization of the sound sources. IRCAM has gained experience in this type of reproduction through its participation in the European CARROUSO Project in collaboration with the Swiss company SonicEmotion. These studies have made it possible to carry out productions in partnership with the Centre Pompidou such as the production of an installation at the end of 2005 for the DADA exhibit, an interactive installation in June 2006 (in collaboration with N+N Corsino), and an
installation for the Samuel Beckett exhibit in 2007.

From 2008—2011, IRCAM was able to acquire and install a WFS system in the Espace de Projection with the support of the Île-de- France Région, the CNRS, and the UPMC. This system is made up of a horizontal crown of 264 loudspeakers placed at regular intervals around the stage and the audience for WFS sound diffusion and of a dome of 75 loudspeakers for three-dimensional Ambisonic sound diffusion. This equipment is used to experiment with new methods of spatialization for musical creation and for scientific experiments with virtual reality and spatial cognition. The WFS component of this installation, inaugurated in 2008, was used in the musical creations by P. Schoeller in June 2009 (Operspective Hölderlin), M. Jarrell in June 2010 (Le Père), M. Garcia-vitoria in October 2011 (Mimesis), and in theatrical productions at the festival of Avignon (Shakespeare’s Richard II, directed by J. B. Sastre, July 2010). The final system was inaugurated on November 28th, 2012.

IRCAM's Team: Acoustic and Cognitive Spaces team.

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