Psychoacoustic observations of holographic sound objects in a portable wave field synthesis system

Begin - Einde 
2018 - 2022 (lopend)
Vakgroep Kunst-, Muziek- en Theaterwetenschappen
Andere instituten 
KASK - School of Arts



The aim of the project is creating interactive sound art, departing from tinnitus ghost sounds, resulting in a series of Tinnitudes. 

Starting from my personal experience and a project with an exhibition that that emanated from it, I want to investigate the possibilities of a Higher Order Ambisonics (HOA) environment in order to create a set of musical/sound-art pieces related and/or inspired by the ghost sounds heard by tinnitus sufferers —hence the name Tinnitudes — and linking the beholder affectingly to the sound experience. The spatial sound pieces can be composed, generated (as with generative modular synths) or algorithmic, as time delimited or infinite loop pieces. The Tinnitudes can further be categorised as either passive or interactive and suitable for one, two or more listeners. In the case of interaction, the listener(s) can move restricted or freely in the HOA box.

Part of the investigation consists of the inside/outside - interior/exterior experience for subjects inside an HOA box looking for answers to questions like: What is the spatial resolution of a sonic object experienced inside, very near or at further distance the beholder’s head; Can a virtual space be created inside (or outside or both) the HOA black box to create illusion of room size whereby sounds can be heard/experienced inside and outside this virtual room. How big can a sound be? What is the smallest perceivable sonic object? Can homogenous sound objects have discernible shapes? Can sounds move in and out a listener’s head? Working from a phenomenological point of view, I investigate the psychoacoustic observations of beholders in a Higher Order Ambisonics (HOA) space.

For the Tinnitudes, a methodology and technical setup will be defined to create a collection of tinnitus sounds. These will be emulated by the defined system trough dialogue with tinnitus sufferers. This process has already been explored whereby volunteers took part in the emulation with synthesised sounds and natural sounds, resulting in a small (not scientifically standardised) collection.

As an extension, a methodology and technical setup can be developed to systematically document the acoustic properties of existing spaces (e.g. Architectural constructs: church, concert hall, market place,... and natural spaces: meadow, mountain, woods,…) as to create a sonic VR database (as opposed to the use of generic “hall”, “room”, reverb presets. The setup can exist of a pulse/noise generating system to measure the acoustic properties of a space. The resulting measurement can then be transformed in a standardised format, to enable specific soft- or hardware to recreate the acoustic environment. 

Finally I want to develop a visual notation of 3d sound objects in space and time, compatible with modern music stave notation and sonic VR spaces. A set of graphic symbols should be easily usable and readable by composers, musicians and studio operators and create a link between the musical and the technological realm.




Externe medewerkers

Joris Blanckaert