Spatial Audio Seminar

Summer 2018

July 9July 13, 2018
July 9 – 13, 2018

This intensive seminar offers musicians, composers, audio engineers, and programmers the rare opportunity to study the fundamentals of multi-channel spatial audio in pristine acoustic environments. Participants will experience multiple large spatial audio systems, including Wave Field Synthesis, High-Order Ambisonics, and Binaural audio.

Researcher Markus Noisternig (IRCAM), professor Chris Chafe (Stanford), Rama Gottfried, and other guests will join EMPAC’s audio staff in dissecting technical and artistic concerns in the creation and presentation of high-count multi-channel sound projection. Using the full capabilities of EMPAC’s sonic infrastructure, including over 700 channels of audio and EMPAC’s Wave Field Synthesis array, the seminar will consist of lectures, roundtables, listening sessions, workshops, and performances.

The first week of the seminar is an open forum for participants of all backgrounds and experience levels to dive into general concepts, workflows, and control mechanisms related to spatial audio. Topics will include introductory, intermediate, and advanced patching for IRCAM’s SPAT software, in-depth discussions of Wave Field Synthesis, Ambisonics, Binaural and Transaural audio, 3D audio recording and mixing, and more.

The second week of the seminar is a wave field synthesis workshop giving a limited number of participants focused time and hands-on access to the system in order to develop new creative work.


EMPAC’s Wave Field Synthesis array was constructed in 2016 and consists of 558 independently controllable speakers spread across 18 portable and reconfigurable modules.


The workshop will take place in the EMPAC building, granting participants access to a range of sophisticated audio systems and acoustic settings. Two venues will be outfitted with high-channel-count audio arrays, including:

  • 1,200-seat Concert Hall
    with 64-channel Ambisonic array.
  • Studio 1
    (66’x51’x33’; 315m2, 12m high) with two Wave Field Synthesis arrays (one frontal linear array and one overhead linear array) and a 25-channel Ambisonic array.


Spatial Audio Platforms
  • Wave Field Synthesis
  • High-Order Ambisonics
  • Binaural and Transaural Audio
  • 3D audio recording and mixing
  • SPAT


Participants should be musicians, composers, audio engineers, or programmers with interest in multi-channel composition. Familiarity with MAX is suggested, but not required.


There will be two open-to-the-public performances during the first week. More information will be available later this spring on the specifics.


  • Attendees to the workshop should bring a computer and applications they are comfortable using for creating
  • Dongles to connect laptop to Ethernet cable

Where + When

Held across EMPAC’s venues, the seminar will run from 10AM–6PM each day. Performances will be held TBD. Coffee, lunch, and parking included for attendees only.


Lodging accommodations are available on campus for those traveling to attend. Checkin will be open on the 8th and checkout available on the 14th for those who want to arrive the day before / leave morning after workshops.


  • $600 Includes: lectures, performances, and coffee, lunch, snacks each day.
  • $810 Includes: seminar registration as well as single room lodging for six nights on the Rensselaer campus.
  • Registration is FREE for RPI Faculty and Students with a valid RIN Please contact John Cook to make arrangements 518/276.3921 or


Monday, July 9

9:00 Check in at Box Office - 7th Floor EMPAC

9:45 – 12:00 Introduction to Spatial Audio 1: Markus Noisternig

12:00 – 1:00 Lunch on Mezzanine

1:00 – 2:45 EMPAC WFS Demo : EMPAC Staff + Markus Noisternig

3:00 – 4:00 Object Based Audio : Markus Noisternig and Rama Gottfried

4:00 – 5:00 Sounding Board (time for questions and discussion)

Tuesday, July 10

9:00 – 12:00 Chris Chafe: Surround Sound's Point of Origin

12:00 – 1:00 Lunch on Mezzanine

1:00 – 2:30 Introduction to Spatial Audio 2 : Markus Noisternig

3:00 – 4:30 Patching Spat (Part 1) : Rama Gottfried

4:30 – 5:30 Sounding Board (time for questions and discussion)

7:00 Presentation (programmed by Markus Noisternig)

Wednesday, July 11

9:00 – 10:15 Orchestrating Space using Cell Phones : Garth Paine

10:45 – 12:00 High density WFS : Markus Noisternig and Argeo Ascani

12:00 – 1:00 Lunch on Mezzanine

1:00 – 2:00 Overhead WFS : Bobby McElver

2:00 – 3:30 Conversation (Q&A and more) with Coffee in Studio 1

3:30 – 5:00 Patching Spat (Part 2) or EMPAC Audio tour

Thursday, July 12

9:00 – 10:30 3D Audio Recording / 3D Mixing/Postproduction (Panoramix) : Markus Noisternig

11:00 – 12:00 Live-Electronics and Spatial Audio : Markus Noisternig

12:00 – 1:00 Lunch on Mezzanine

1:00 – 2:30 Higher Order Ambisonic Microphones : Jens Meyer

3 – 3:30 Listening Session

3:45 – 5:30 Patching Spat (Part 3) or EMPAC Audio tour

Friday, July 13

9:00 – 10:30 Introduction to Binaural Listening : Markus Noisternig

11:00 – 12:30 The State of the Art of Binaural Audio: Fundamental Concepts and Recent Tools : Edgar Choueiri

12:30 – 1:30 Lunch on Mezzanine

2:00 – 3:30 Roundtable Round-up


Watch video documentation of last year's event.


Registration is now closed.


Markus Noisternig is Researcher at IRCAM, CNRS, Sorbonne Universities–UPMC in Paris, Senior Lecturer at the Institute of Electronic Music in Graz, and also lecturer at the Karlsruhe College of Arts and Design. As an undergraduate and postgraduate, he studied electrical engineering and audio engineering as well as computer music composition at the University of Technology and the University of Music and Performing Arts in Graz. As an artist, Noisternig has participated in numerous collaborative projects with well-known composers and ensembles of New Music, which have performed in key European festivals.

Chris Chafe is a composer, improviser, and cellist, developing much of his music alongside computer-based research. He is Director of Stanford University's Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA). At IRCAM (Paris) and The Banff Centre (Alberta), he pursued methods for digital synthesis, music performance and real-time internet collaboration.

Rama Gottfried is a lecturer of computer music and instrument design at UC Berkeley’s Center for New Music and Audio Technologies (CNMAT), where he completed his PhD in music composition in 2015. In 2012, he was a composer in residence at IRCAM working on aesthetic applications of Wave Field Synthesis (WFS) and Higher Order Ambisonics (HOA). This year he is continuing his spatial composition research as a composer in residence at IRCAM and Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie (ZKM).

Bobby McElver is a sound designer and composer for theater and dance in New York City. He was a company member of The Wooster Group from 2011-2016. Current associate with Andrew Schneider. Co-creator of Andrew Schneider’s YOUARENOWHERE and EMPAC-commissioned AFTER, which featured EMPAC’s Wave Field Synthesis arrays at EMPAC and The Public Theater.

Edgar Choueiri is professor of Applied Physics at Princeton University where he is Director of two research laboratories: The Electric Prolusion and Plasma Dynamics Propulsion Laboratory (where he works on advanced propulsion for deep space spacecraft), and the 3D Audio and Applied Acoustics (3D3A) where he works on spatial audio. He is the author of more than 200 scientific articles and publications and the recipient of numerous awards.

Jens Meyer received his master and PhD from Darmstadt University of Technology, followed by a PostDoc at Bell Labs. In 2002 he co-founded mh acoustics. Together with Gary Elko he developed the Eigenmike (R) microphone array. First sold in 2003 the Eigenmike array was the first microphone capable of recording Higher Order Ambisonics (HOA). To this day his main technical interest is in acoustic signal processing with emphasis on array beamforming technologies. He is the author of numerous publications and patents.

Garth Paine Garth Paine is a composer, performer and scholar. He has created interactive responsive environments where the inhabitant generates the sonic landscape through their presence and behavior and composed many music scores for dance works, generated through realtime video tracking and bio-sensing. He was awarded a Green Room Award for Outstanding Creativity, for Escape Velocity (Company in Space) and was a finalist for the Best new Musical Score for Dance, 2014. His work has been shown across the globe. Recent performances in Australia, USA, Korea and Europe have presented works for percussion and live electronic processing, new techniques for sound spatialization, resonating metal instruments, motion tracked dance and Tibetan singing bowl robots. The breadth of his practice is expressed through an enquiry into sound as material. In 2018, Garth is researcher-artist in residence at IRCAM and ZKM, developing a new performance work for spatial audio and VR.

Spatial Audio Seminar
Multiple Venues
July 9July 13, 2018