2005/11/12, 05:50:43, UTC




But the systems here should inspire us to greater poly-syllabicity in our efforts to spread the Good Word. The contributors may be contacted via sursound but please don't misuse their generosity.

However, do send short details of your own system to me.

Systems are current at their submission dates (near title) but may change, especially the complex research establishment setups. But these are also likely to offer guided tours if you ask nicely and promise funding, sponsorship & donations to the cause.

Our aim is to persuade the powers that be, (we're not sure who these are but perhaps Hollywood) to have better (surround) sound in the next implementation of Dolby Digital, DTS etc.


Ambisonic Strategy is how we promote True Ambisonic Surround and prevent the world from being overrun by Dolby Zillion.1

Ambisonic Bootlegs our kind host - Etienne's repository for surround sound recordings, compositions and info.

Jan Jacob Hofmann attempts to keep an up to date list of Software Decoders on his web site. If you find something outdated or missing, please contact him. He also composes in 2nd order B format and plays it back on the JJ.

Ambisonic Surround Decoder discusses the design of decoders.

Domestic Systems : Walmsley, DolBe, Core, Furse Option, Lalila, JJ, Silberman, Elen, & 20th Century Elen, Stockton, Diva

Sophisticated Research Establishment Systems the SPARG, the San Angelo

the Walmsley jan06

Henry Walmsley wishes it known, that he is in no way associated with a composer of very bla music in the Anglican choral tradition of the same name. Instead he embraces 21st (well nearly) century technology and plays with synthesizers and other inventions of the devil. His system is described at http://homepage.ntlworld.com/henry01/synth_stack/synth_stack.htm and includes

8 homebuilt transmission speakers using full range EJ Jordan units
Stageline STA100 amps
His own design Ambisonic decoder including some interesting experimental variants.

Room is 8 x 4 m with one end only 3.5m. Furnished with the pelts of endangered species which are known to absorb un-musical sounds.

Various A&D units including the Transcoder.

His own design of soundfield microphone includes a nifty UHJ encoder. A recorded walkaround is available at


the DolBe (Dolby / Benjamin geddit?) San Francisco oct05

Echo Layla DSP soundcard : Balanced I/O 8 INs 8 OUTS
Furse Decoder
plays .wxyz & .fmh format .WAV files
12 off JBL LSR25Ps : powered speakers 17 x 27 x 24 cm
Room (proposed) 6.86m X 4.42m X 2.44m

This once occupied the inner sanctum, listening room No 1 (5 x 7m) at Dolby Labs until it was broken by the false prophets of Dolby Digital. The secret disciple Benjamin (one of the false prophets) lovingly carried the body to a hiding place embalmed in sweet oils. He is preparing a new temple where it will be resurrected.

Used to demonstrate 8 speaker 1st & 2nd order Ambisonics and experiments. Extensions to full periphony planned. Large stock of B format recordings, made with both Holy and Heretical Soundfield Mikes. see "The Native B format Microphone Pt1" Benjamin & Chen, AES New York, oct05

Eric has a lesser 4 speaker system which he presently uses wearing his Malham / Van Gogh cap.

Echo Gina or Layla sound card
Denon AV receiver
4 Paradigm 7se loudspeakers in a slightly misshapen ITU 5 array without CF

The Core is really here under false pretences as it may not be permanent. feb06

Len Moskowitz of Core Sound writes, "We put together a low-cost PC-based hexagonal azimuth-only playback system to support our forthcoming Ambisonics-related products. It sounds good enough that I can recommend it here.

If you already have a PC, for another $1000, you can have a good sounding Ambisonics playback system. Only thing missing is the reproduction of 20 to 60 Hz. You can add an Infinity PS-10 ($200) or PS-12 ($275) subwoofer driven by the W channel with 60 Hz LPF setting on the subwoofer."

They don't have a showroom or shop but the prototype system is set up in a small 11.5' x 12.5' x 8' room with speakers in a regular hex arrangement. Some reflection treatment and a subwoofer planned. So it may not be permanent but then again ...

Core Sound specializes in portable, typically handheld recording equipment including 4Mic, a 4-channel mic pre/A-to-D.

See maybe http://www.core-sound.com/4Mic/1.php from mar06

If all this sounds like an unashamed plug, it is! When finish my Soundfield Mike using 4 tin cans, I hope to cadge one of these off Len - Richard L

Richard Furse, whose AmbisonicPlayer is used by a number of entries has

the Furse Option nov05

4 x Cambridge Audio A1 mk3 Amps
8 x Wharfedale 7.1 Speakers (one or two starting to fade, currently in octagon, on cheap IKEA stands).
1 PC with Echo Layla Audio card wired direct to amps.

and to drive it

AmbisonicPlayer.exe (http://www.muse.demon.co.uk/utils/ambiplay.html, 1st and 2nd order Ambisonics)
gmn.exe (not publicly available yet, 1st and 2nd order Ambisonics and some new stuff...)

Sits in an open-plan living room, more reverberant than I'd like. Front speakers live to the side when Ambisonics not in use to act as front speakers in generic home 4.0 array for DVD etc.

My totally irrational bias says any Wharfedale speakers not bearing the "Hand crafted by virgins in Yorkshire" label are a heresy and should be burnt and the perpetrators de-pinnaed ... Richard L

Etienne, when not surfing the waves off New South Wales, Australia, listens to

the Lalila nov05

Presently in Sydney, he plans to move it to a shack in the Word Heritage Rainforest area of Queensland away from crocodiles but within reach of big waves.

PC running Linux.
PureData to decode the files.
PCMCIA RME Hammerfall sound card.
Yamaha RX-V650 drives
6 off Lake S200 speakers.

also his own design of Soundfield Mike, the Sound Thief, using Rode NT5 capsules.

the JJ nov05 Frankfurt am Main, Germany

The rig consists of 8 Genelec 1030A speakers arranged in a cube of 2.60 m length in a room of 15 sqm.

Decoded soundfiles (speaker feeds) are played via "Audio Desk" software, a multi-track editing software, which came with my Motu 2408 interface, which allows the computer to output 8 tracks simultaneously (can be enhanced to play back more tracks).

Decoded soundfiles (speaker feeds) generated by Csound using my Csound-Decoder for 2nd order Ambisonic, which can be downloaded at http://www.sonicarchitecture.de. The decoding is done via the Furse-Malham Equations. No shelf-filtering.

Encoded 2nd order soundfiles were generated with my Csound-Encoder for 2nd order Ambisonic which can be downloaded at http://www.sonicarchitecture.de . During encoding, the sound is enriched with information about the environment such as early reflections, reverberation, filtering of distant sound etc.

Runs on a Apple G3/G5 Computer but should be possible exactly that way under Windows. Software is all freeware.

The room is not reverberant at all. Although only 8 speakers are used (for 2nd order it should be at least 12, if height is supported), the rig sounds pretty nice and I did not experience any holes between the speakers yet. I wonder how it would sound with 12 speakers.

Jan Jacob Hofmann, an ex-SPARG man, composes in 2nd order B format. Impressive examples available from his website as is an up to date list of Software Decoders and his own Csound 2nd order decoder.

sound | movement | object | space

sonic architecture | http://www.sonicarchitecture.de

spatial electronic composition | 2nd order ambisonic music

Jeff Silberman (San Francisco) founder of sursound contributed the highly regarded

Silberman oct05

My system is decidedly old school: It has been up and running since 1995 in a well-damped listening room.

It is composed of 6 dual-concentric loudspeakers (Win Research Studio Monitor 10) in a horizontal regular hexagon with a centre loudspeaker orientation (I have not experimented with the other orientation so to speak).

I employ a Cepiar Ambi-8x balanced analog B-Format Decoder (can do an octagon with the correct set of resistors) This company regrettably has long been out of business, and the owner of this enterprise (an elusive chap named Chris P. Richards) has not been heard from in a while. I suspect that he may be trapped under something heavy and cannot reach his telephone.

I have been making B-Format recordings with the ST-250 and a Nagra-D since 1993. I have not released any recordings to the public because I have been warned that if one wishes to make a small fortune in Ambisonics, it is necessary to start with a big one ....

the Elen (near Huntingdon, UK) 2nov05

This deluxe domestic system may be the second best (plug & play) Ambisonic System you can actually go out and buy today. It is spoilt by the foreign JBL rear speakers. The best presently available domestic Ambisonic system is of course, all Meridian with the M861 processor and a complete set of their digital speakers.

Richard Elen has been an Ambisonic evangelist since the 1970s and has still not given up hope. His planar-only system consists of the following :

Meridian G98 CD/DVD-A/V player,
Sony SACD player,
Squeezebox 2 network player, all digitally (except SACD) connected to

Meridian G68 digital surround processor

1 x pair Meridian DSP5000 digital loudspeaker (front L & R)
1 x Meridian DSP33 active analogue loudspeaker (CF) under the TV, used mainly for movie playback
1 x Meridian G57 stereo power amplifier (rears)
1 x pair JBL TL-series bookshelf loudspeakers on wall brackets (rear L & R)
1 x RBH MS-8.1 subwoofer used mainly for movie playback

The main speakers are arranged in an approximate rectangle with side ratios of about 1.5 (length) to 1 (width). Most Ambisonic listening is to 2-channel UHJ, decoded by the G68 in "Ambisonic" mode, but there is also some playback of G-Format (and pre-decoded from UHJ) material from DVD-A and other sources. B-Format playback is also supported given content to replay. The system is calibrated via Meridian Room Correction, and is set up diagonally across what is essentially a square room (about 5m square) so as to lessen the audible impact of room excitation.

Richard graciously points out, "you could build an enormous number of extremely effective Ambisonic systems where the only Meridian component was the surround processor."

the 20th Century Elen of historical interest but still worthy ..

Richard has also been involved with less expensive systems and recommends from pre-history

4 Keesonic Kub speakers designed by the 20th century mystic, Peter Keeley from Cookham.
Minim AD7 decoder : B format, Stereo and UHJ decode.

This simple system was sold by Boots, the UK high street retailer during the 80's complete with 4 channel Aiwa mini system. Old fogeys, including me, remember it with affection for robust good performance.

... but in fact my involvement with this was peripheral. It should really be credited to Peter Carbines, who was the Technical Adviser to the Audio Buyer at Boots at the time and put the system elements together. I did own one for some time, and still have the decoder in a box somewhere. The set of four Keesonic Kubs ended up with my Ambisonic Mastering System, and like, it, are now "on loan" (permanently?) to John Timperley, who I think still uses the setup extensively. By now he must have made an enormous number of albums in UHJ that only he knows are encoded...

the Stockton Stockton, California nov05

My permanent installation consists of

16 Genelec speakers arranged as two octagonal rings.
Custom decoders built in Creamware.
B+ is my source which consists of a frontal stereo and an ambient B format all of which is correctly decoded.
I normally record with a Soundfield Mic but am now researching Native B Format microphones. Have constructed one and presented a paper at the New York AES. I plan to use convolution to obtain the ambient B format.

I would welcome anyone who would like to listen.

ThomasChen@aol.com is the inventor of B+ format which extends Ambisonic B format with two additional channels and a co-author of

"The Native B format Microphone Pt1" Benjamin & Chen, AES New York, oct05.

Papers at www.studiocstockton.com

the Diva nov05

William Sommerwerck's system includes :

6 Apogee speakers: four Divas (front/back) and 2 Duetta Signatures (side). Only the Divas are used for recorded surround.
Each is driven by a separate Krell KSA-250, from an Apogee DAX-3 electronic crossover. There are two Krell KRC control centers.
Decoder is the Cantares.
CD Player is the top Sony SACD model of three years back.
LP playback is a Well-Tempered arm and 'table with Ikeda direct-coupled MC pickup feeding a Vendetta preamp.

A unique all dipole audiophile system. Bill reports that it has sounded better in the past when it occupied a larger room where the dipoles had room to breath. Then it was definitely in the contention for 'best Ambisonic system in the world'. When he reviewed gear for Stereophile ...

I tried playing Dolby MP soundtracks through a UHJ decoder. Stunning, unbelievable -- in terms of imaging, "naturalness", etc, etc, it utterly blew away the best logic-directed decoders of that era (eg, Shure 5300). It wasn't simply quantitatively better, it was qualitatively better. Vastly.

Also heretical devices : 4-channel open-reel tape deck, a high-end Sony multi-channel SACD player, decoders/processors for almost every surround system (both music and video) and three high-end ambience synthesizers.

the SPARG 2nov05

The Signal Processing Applications Research Group of the Uni of Derby, UK has a Multi Channel Sound Research Lab with the following permanently set up

8 Gale Studio Monitors horizontal regular octagon
8 Gale cubic periphonic system
16 speaker combination of the two where the additional top & bottom squares are rotated 45 wrt to each other.

Funding is sought to make their 3D system 24 speakers - 3 layers of 8, so please drop your generous donations in the Duo-Dodecahedron box on your way out.

5 PMC speakers in ITU standard 5.0 layout
2 PMCs at centre front for x-talk cancelling experiments (Stereo Dipole)

16-channel Soundscape Mixtreme soundcard using Matlab/Simulink or custom C++ programs. The Mixtreme is seen as a single Wave (MME) device by Windoze which is very handy.

1st & 2nd order B format material and listening tests. Used to develop Bruce Wiggins "Tabu" 5.1 decode which extends & corrects Michael Gerzon's "Vienna Decoder"

"Many of our components are decidedly 'lo-fi', which leads to some surprise in new listeners who don't quite understand why the system as a whole sounds better than the individual components."

More information at http://sparg.derby.ac.uk which hopes to publish further sermons by Drs. Peter Lennox & Bruce Wiggins on life, the universe & Ambisonics ...

Bruce has an alpha test Ambisonic Decoder which reads the new .AMB files, the Wigware Ambisonic Decoder.

the San Angelo : managed by Professore Farina at Uni of Parma, Italy oct05

Brief details of this complex Ambisonic system in a 3 x 5 x 4m room

8 Turbosound Impact 50 speakers
bi-rectangular arranged as horizontal square & vertical slightly squashed square to the sides
pedestal for listening chair
8 channel QSC amp
BSS Soundweb DSP processor (analogue In/Out) provides B format decode, Shelf Filters, EQ, phase randomization
Echo Layla soundcard (on a liquid cooled PC) feeds 4 channels to the Soundweb

Software runs partly on the Soundweb and partly on Audiomulch with VST plugins .. Malham, Gerzonic, Swiss Computer Centre, VisualVirtualMike, Pristine Space, Waves IR1 ...

Calibration : ST250 Soundfield output at centre for 4 original B format signals using Kirkeby optimisation w/o considering room reflections.

Employed for Listening Tests comparing noise in cars and their sound systems

Other systems in this room used with or in comparison are Stereo Dipoles, front & back and subwoofers front & back

Two ST250 Soundfields

pictures http://pcfarina.eng.unipr.it/Public/ASKroom/ and also links to Angelo's prodigious output on many subjects. Look at his Aurora page.

Please send short details of your own system as above including any treasure troves of Ambisonic material you hoard, to Richard Lee. Eric makes the point that we should not divulge physical addresses but an email address would probably be OK. Please let me know if you prefer to remain completely anonymous.

I am particularly interested in inexpensive PC based systems that are easy for someone to try Ambisonics and true Surround Sound for the 1st time.

The writer of the best blurb gets a diamond encrusted Malham / Van Gogh cap with optional Golden Pinnae ...

A famous experiment by Dave Malham of York Uni, checking the importance of pinnae (ear flaps) for sound localisation.

"To test whether pinnae cues are very important, important, or just icing on the cake, I suggest a simple, cheap experiment that anyone can perform without the need to do a Van Gogh. Purchase a rubber swimming cap, the type that goes right down over your ears (tightly!). Put it on, mark the positions of your ear canal entrances, take it off and cut identical but small holes at the positions marked (a piece of narrow steel tube - 6mm should do - sharpening the end evenly with a file or a grinder then use that as a punch). Now put it back on and, voila, no pinnae!"

The copyright to the systems here belong to the various contributors. Thanks guys for sharing. Any mistakes, intentional or not are mine. Please contact me if you see anything that you object to.

Checked on the Mozilla Firefox browser which I have used exclusively ever since I found from hard experience how Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.0 .. 6.0 6.1 ... zillion.1 open you to bugs, viruses and trojans ad nauseum.

This page © Richard Lee ricardo@justnet.com.au

History : changes 16nov05 18nov05 23nov05 5mar06 10mar06