Providing Surround Sound with Loudspeakers: A Synopsis of Current Methods

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Available methods for room-related sound presentation are introduced and evaluated. A focus is put on the synthesis side rather than on complete transmission systems. Different methods are compared using common, though quite general criteria. The methods selected for comparison are: Intensity Stereophony after Blumlein, vector-base amplitude panning (VBAP), 5.1-Surround and its discrete-channel derivatives, synthesis with spherical harmonics (Ambisonics, HOA), synthesis based on the boundary method, namely, wave-field synthesis (WFS), and binaural-cue selection methods (e.g., DiRAC). While VBAP, 5.1-Surround and other discrete-channel-based methods show a number of practical advantages, they do, in the end, not aim at authentic sound-field reproduction. The so-called holophonic methods that do so, particularly, HOA and WFS, have specific advantages and disadvantages which will be discussed. Yet, both methods are under continuous development, and a decision in favor of one of them should be taken from a strictly application-oriented point of view by considering relevant application-specific advantages and disadvantages in detail.

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