The EMPAC High-resolution Modular Loudspeaker Array for Wave Field Synthesis
In order to explore the perceptual potential and limitations of Wave Field Synthesis (WFS) for artistic productions, a WFS array was built with loudspeakers placed as closely together as possible. Knowing from experience, that the high-frequency noisy components found in consonants of speech and transients of instrumental sounds are important for sound localization, the question arose if their coherent presentation through WFS with a higher spatial aliasing frequency affects the localization. The system was built with 5.8cm between each loudspeaker resulting in an aliasing frequency of 2.9kHz. Experimental configurations allow us to evaluate aliasing frequencies from below 7000Hz up to 5.8 kHz. Critical listening shows that increasing the number of speakers while decreasing their distance improves the perceived overall quality, including timbre. New modules with loudspeaker spaces 2.9 cm apart are under construction. The current system's 558 individually addressable loudspeakers are housed in 18 modules, each with 31 channels and an external subwoofer. The modular design allows for flexibility in deployment, including vertical and overhead configurations, enabling the simulation of complex acoustic environments and a diversity of artistic and research-driven projects. This paper is an invitation to use the system for research.