building a home WFS system

I’ve been into spatial audio and especially Wave Field Synthesis, ever since my neighbor Simon Katzböck introduced me to the concept in Mörbisch, some years ago now. There, at the Seefestspiele, I was stunned to see how well it worked, how the voices seemed to originate from the singers, not the PA, and how realistic the LARES system there made the orchestra feel like it would in a concert hall. Mörbisch doesn’t feature a full fledged WFS installation, it’s more like a high order Ambisonics system that is quite unique and proprietary with a lot of fascinating technology supplied and programmed by the Fraunhofer Institute.

So, since no WFS installation is available in Vienna to play around with, I decided to build my own. I went for the minimum design first, to get some experience, and also to keep the cost (A/D converters especially) down. 16 channels would do for a first. I’m quite proud of how low I have been able to keep the costs till now. Here’s what I use:

  • 16 Visaton K50 speakers (250 Hz to 12kHz).
  • 8 2x 3W 5V powered amp boards fromSingapore, that I got on EBay (see photo below).
  • 2 8A 5V power supplies, also from Singapore, also source via EBay.
  • RME Multiface I that a friend lent me, for 8ch analog out, plus ADAT out.
  • Behringer UltraGain 8000 for additional 8ch.
  • a wood box with padding inside as a cabinet.

Total cost so far: less than 300€. I’m just assembling the whole shebang, and very excited to hear the first tones. On the software side I’m using PureData as a signal source and Marije Baalmans sWONDER WFS software for rendering.

Both are open source. PureData and SuperCollider will be running on my laptop (Lenovo X220 8GB i5, Win 7) and sWONDER on a Core2Quad PC with Debian 6 installed. Below some photos that I took so far, and as always, keeping you posted on the progress.

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