Exploring 3D Audio
the EMPAC Wave Field Synthesis Array
Guests of the 10YEARS Celebration are invited to experience an interactive 3D audio system with exceptional potential. EMPAC’s Wave Field Synthesis (WFS) loudspeaker array goes beyond traditional surround sound technologies to create truly immersive audio environments, not unlike the sonic equivalent of 3D cinema. The installation will be open throughout the day on Friday and Saturday allowing visitors to explore a series of audio demonstrations, featuring recordings of a string quartet and a wind octet by W. A. Mozart made specifically for the system.
Creating spatialized audio, the experience of music or other sonic events happening in front of and around us, has been an endeavor for engineers since the advent of stereo (with two speakers) and surround sound (with four, five, or many more loudspeakers). This interest started in 1881 with the first two-channel transmission over telephone lines, and many different technologies improving upon the effect have been created up to the present day.
First theorized by acousticians in the 1980s, WFS differs from other systems in that the sound source will stay put in its location independent of where the listener is positioned. In stereo or surround sound, there is a “sweet spot” where the sounds are perceived in balance. But once one moves around or sits closer to one speaker, the listening experience shifts like a lopsided ship to the speakers one sits closest to.
EMPAC’s high-density WFS system was designed and constructed by EMPAC in 2016 and is one of the most extensive systems of its kind in the world. Consisting of over 500 small speakers situated very closely together, each one producing its own signal, the system can be used in a range of applications, from concert and theatrical settings to the simulation of acoustical environments for research purposes. With this platform, EMPAC has demonstrated the full power of WFS and is one of the only centers in the world actively developing new creative work for WFS.
Development and Design by EMPAC: Johannes Goebel, Todd Vos, Jeff Svatek, Argeo Ascani, and Eric Ameres, in collaboration with Markus Noisternig / IRCAM, Paris.