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Audio Engineering Society

Presented at the 99th Convention
October 6-9, 1995 New York, NY



The Synthesis of Concert-Hall Sound Fields in the Home

by Ralph Glasgal




It is one goal of Ambiophonics and this paper to show how modern technology, combined with a clear understanding of what the ear requires and the concert hall provides, can replace the anachronistic and technically deficient, out-of-date sound reproduction system that we call stereo. Ambiophonics is dedicated to transporting the home listener to an acoustic space that is similar to that occupied by the performers during the recording session or, if an anechoic recording, to one that could have been a good recording venue.

Ambiophonics produces a fixed "You Are There" feeling compared to the surround sound "They Are Here" all-around-you dynamically changing acoustical setting.

Ambiophonics is essentially a recipe for configuring dedicated home music theaters (with or without video images of the orchestra, opera stage, jazz combo, etc.), that audiophile cooks can follow to produce a concert-hall sound field and a wide precision stage image from ordinary unencoded LPs and CDs. The Ambiophonics sound field is realistic enough to permit head movement while the stage image remains fixed, as in everyday life, and to invoke the binaural focus effect whereby the ear can isolate one voice at a noisy cocktail party or one instrument in an octet. This concentration effect is particularly useful when listening to recordings that have needle scratch or audience noise. Ambiophonics, as implemented to date, does not make provision for sounds that do not originate on the floor of the stage. Thus audience noises, such as applause, appear to originate in the front quadrant. For the present, only one or two listeners at most can enjoy the full effect. This appears to be the price that the laws of acoustics extort in exchange for externalizing the binaural earphone sound.

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