Sound Research Meetup: Ambisonics


Date: Wednesday, September 21st
Times: 7pm – 8:30pm
Cost: $5 – $20 suggested donation (no one turned away for lack of funds)
Location: GAFFTA, 998 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102


We’re back for round two of the Sound Research group. Our first meetup had great turnout of some of the field’s preeminent audio researchers and we expect that this one will be even better! The topic for this meetup is Ambisonics.

ambisonics [ˌæmbɪˈsɒnɪks] n.
Ambisonics is a surround sound system first developed in the 1970s. Its main difference from other surround techniques is that it separates transmission channels from speaker feeds, the speaker feeds being derived using a decoder situated in the living room. Decoders can be implemented in either hardware or software. Typically more speakers are used than transmission channels, and the more speakers used then the more stable the resulting soundfield. Speakers can be arranged in a number of configurations, regular polygons being the most popular.

Luckily there will be no shortage of experts in the house. Eric Benjamin of Dolby Labs will be presenting some of his research. Eric is the author of a multitude of papers pertaining to Ambisonics decoding, Ambisonic localization, tetrahedral microphone techniques, and configuration of irregular loudspeaker arrays. His work has opened the door for many sound artists interested in 3 dimensional sound and is largely recognized in the spatial audio community as being groundbreaking research.

Aside from GAFFTA’s 8-channel speaker array, we will have a 2nd order Ambisonics system for listening experiments and demos. The sound system belongs to independent sound artist and Ambisonics enthusiast Elan Rosenman. Elan will discuss his experiences configuring his sound system.

This speaker array consists of 12 speakers mounted to 10’x10’x11’8.75” cubic steel frame. (The frame is extended higher to compensate for the loudspeaker offset). By placing a speaker at the center point of each 12 sections (facing the center at 45 degrees), a geometric relationship is created that meets the requirements for a “full-sphere” 2nd order ambisonic system. The frame is made out of 1.5 inch steel square tubing consisting of ~5‟ sections that are connected with larger diameter brackets and couplers. The pieces slide together and are secured with set screws. The speakers mount in the same fashion to the mid-point of each section.


7:00pm – 7:30pm : Presentations
7:30pm – 8:00pm : Demos / Listening
8:00pm – 8:30pm : Discussion / Show and Tell

Eric Benjamin


Eric Benjamin, formerly of Dolby laboratories, is a consultant for Surround Research and for other consumer electronics companies. He has been a Papers Chairperson of five Audio Engineering Society (AES) Conventions and Conferences and is an active researcher in the areas of audio reproduction and quality.

Elan Rosenman


Elan is a pioneer in exploring different applications for spatial audio and ambisonics, including physical healing, personal development, and interactive programs. Elan is passionate about realizing the potential of sound and music to impact the mind, body and spirit. He is the founder of Soun3d, a San Francisco based audio production company that specializes in creating immersive audio environments through the design and installation of ambisonic playback systems.

Elan began his education at Northern Arizona University with an undergraduate degree in Arts Management and Anthropology, and went on to study audio production and techniques for sound therapy at the Globe Institute of Psychoacoustics in San Francisco. He began his career in music working in Radio Promotion at Columbia Records in New York City and Crescent Moon Records in Miami, then as a Producer and on-air host for Mana’o Radio in Maui.