A University of Huddersfield researcher aims to bring sound reproduction into the 3D age with a new system that would allow not only horizontal but also vertical distribution of sound.
Part of a £100,000 project backed by the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the research will look for the most convincing ways to reproduce sound in a way it is naturally done on the real world.
“If you are at a live concert you hear sounds from everywhere, including reverberation and reflection from the ceiling,” said Hyunkook Lee, senior lecturer in music technology at the University of Huddersfield’s School of Computing and Engineering. “But conventional surround sound systems are limited because they are effectively two-dimensional. 3D means you have an additional height dimension.”
Although originally perceived as a gimmick, 3D video has already established itself as a firm trend in cinematography development. However, the audio part with its 2D surround sound is lagging behind.
The two-year project led by Hyunkook Lee wants to change the status quo and open some new fascinating opportunities for the entertainment industry.
“We know how we perceive sound horizontally very well, because we are so used to stereo and surround sound, but the height dimension is the new thing,” Lee said.
The first phase of the project will see Lee conducting a series of test to understand how humans perceive the vertical dimension of sound. To carry out the testing, a new critical listening room will be installed at the University of Huddersfield, equipped with the most advanced audio technology.
During the testing, Lee will work with trained music technology students, who will be assessing quality of musical recordings and provide a pattern of perception to be analysed by Lee.
Eventually, Lee will develop dedicated software capable of rendering the characteristics of 3D sound. The system, intended for professional, as well as domestic use, will allow people to convert 2D recordings into 3D sound reproduction.