Fluid Dynamics and Acoustics Group


  Multi-Channel Systems

One of the main limitations of production of virtual acoustic images through loudspeakers is the restriction on the listener to sit in a relatively narrow "sweet-spot". In addition, all binaural systems implemented so far have in practice produced virtual sources for only a single listener at a time. The following two examples demonstrate different virtual sound imaging systems that generalise the cross-talk cancellation from a 2x2 system to a 4x4 system.

Scattered sound field around four spheres

Sphere / 4x4 / anechoic chamber

  "Four-Ear" Dummy-Head (two SD configuration)

A new recording technique based on multi-channel digital signal processing is investigated. The system uses a dummy-head that is modelled as a rigid sphere with two pairs of microphones being mounted on opposite sides in the horizontal plane. It is well known “phenomenon that listeners have front-back confusion” when localising virtual acoustic images produced by either headphones or loudspeakers. Reproduction with two loudspeakers to the front of the listener causes rear virtual sounds to be perceived primarily at ‘mirrored’ angles in the frontal hemisphere. The acoustic signals which are recorded at the microphones are filtered by a 4x4 matrix of digital filters before being transmitted via four loudspeakers. Subjective measurements showed that the system can deal successfully with the problem of reversals, thus reproducing the original recorded signals all around a single listener (360 deg.) in an anechoic environment. The system is also robust with respect to head movements - the virtual images do not disappear when the listeners rotate their heads. The principle also works efficiently when synthesising virtual sounds from a monophonic source (and using a more realistic HRTF data-base of a dummy-head) 

Digital Filter Design

Various methods for inverse filter design for sound reproduction have been suggested in our group, both in the time and frequency domains. These include methods for designing adaptive FIR filters using sparse update algorithms and a method of fast deconvolution using regularisation.This method is based on calculating the matrix of causal inverse FIR (finite impulse response) filters in the frequency domain. The calculation is undertaken using regularisation, where the performance of the filters is optimised at a large number of discrete frequencies. Its main advantage is calculating off-line very long filters (up to the DSP hardware limitations: 16384 coefficients of each filter) at relatively large speeds (up to a few minutes with Matlab on a SGI workstation). The figure shows a matrix of 4x4 inverse filters which were delayed with 2048 samples, to include all the minimum phase components. The long filters are also due to the delays of the asymmetric system (see example below).

  4x4 inverse filters
Multiple listeners

Binaural systems have thus far been able to produce convincing virtual acoustic images through loudspeakers for single listeners. A more difficult task is to produce these desired signals for multiple listeners simultaneously. By extending the previous case, where the four microphones are positioned in a single head (sphere), each pair is now positioned at the ears of each listener. The multi-channel solution can ensure that the sound pressures at the ear drums of each listener will be similar to the desired pressures. As a result, it is possible (with the use of an advanced multi-channel DSP system) to control the 16 electro-acoustic paths and produce either the same or different virtual sound images for each listener, simultaneously. Current research is aimed at adapting the system to a more realistic environment, such as a car, and tackling the problem of front back confusion.


two listeners / anechoic chamber