“It’s as if you are in the room with the musicians”
An enhanced way of creating 3D sound using computer software is attracting interest from the TV industry and Hollywood.
I am standing in a foam-clad chamber with my eyes closed, listening to the sound of scissors dancing around my head.
All that is missing from a real visit to the barber is the feel of hair dropping to the floor.
This virtual reality “3D” audio experience is the product of Professor Edgar Choueiri’s life-long passion for recorded music.
The Princeton University physics professor’s main day job is working on space rocket propellants.
But striving to make his own listening experience as real as possible led him to start designing an audio filter for standard stereo speakers, which goes a step further than conventional surround-sound.
“Surround-sound can give you a sense of an explosion happening at a distance, but it’s not accurate,” says Professor Choueiri, sitting in his custom-built acoustics lab on campus.
“With 3D audio, I can get a fly to go around your headâÃ¶ or if you want to really scare somebody, you can put a sound inside their head.”
His breakthrough is a small one, he is careful to say.
The brain-tricking effect can be created in other ways, and other pioneers have achieved it.
But none of the solutions appear to be as simple – or it seems, commercially viable – as his software filter, based on mathematical algorithms.
By eliminating what is known as “cross-talk” from ordinary stereo systems – when the left and right ears hear sounds that they do not in real life – his unique filter relies on the listener being in a small “sweet spot” between two speakers.
“Right now, I’m the only one who can design the filters, until we train somebody,” he adds.
The 3D effect is most pronounced inside the anechoic (echo-less) chamber at Princeton Sound Lab, but the professor shows it can also work on a small wireless speaker linked to a simple laptop.
“3D vision goes back to 1895, people cracked it then. 3D audio turned out to be a much more difficult problem,” he says, with just a whiff of the mad-professor, bubbling over with excitement at a new discovery.
Princeton University has patented his technique, and recently teamed up with the British-based technology company, Cambridge Mechatronics, to design a 3D sound system for 3D televisions.
The next step is to create multiple sweet-spots in a single room for family viewing. …
Sounds great… how does it sound? Find out in 2012:
DynaSonix© is similar to CML's commercially successful Digital Sound Projector© 5.1 surround sound technology, in that it delivers sound from a single array of tiny transducers integrated into the FPTV or placed in a soundbar unit, which sits under the TV's screen. This means that DynaSonix© can deliver a theatrical 3-D audio experience without the need to wire the room for multiple speaker units. However unlike Digital Sound Projector©, DynaSonix© is not dependent on reflections off the walls and ceiling to create its desired audio effect, which means that it can work in any room, regardless of dimensions. The addition of CBAS© to the system means that the user merely has to turn the television on for the 3-D sound delivery to be optimised for both room and audience.
DynaSonix© is quite different from 5.1 surround sound, which provides some degree of sound envelopment for the listener but does not attempt to reconstruct a 3D sound-field. Instead, DynaSonix© provides an accurate reconstruction of a fully 3D soundstage, where sound can be perceived accurately to be located anywhere in 3D space including at the ears, immediately above, behind, or even inside the head of the listener.
CML is working with a leading audio processor provider to integrate the various elements of firmware into a single code base, which will be licensed to FPTV manufacturers by CML. CML expects to announce the details of this partnership in the Spring of 2011, and to be able to offer a fully mass-production ready solution in time for the consumer electronics industry's 2012 model releases.