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Ambisonic Decoders; Is Historical Hardware the Future?

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Ambisonic recordings aim to create full sphere audio fields through using a multi-capsule microphone and algorithms based on a “metatheory” as proposed by Gerzon. Until recently, Ambisonic decoding was solely implemented using hardware. Recent advances in computing power now allow for software decoders to supersede hardware units. It is therefore of interest to determine which of the hardware or software decoders provide the most accurate decoding of Ambisonic B-format signals. In this paper, we present a comparison between hardware and software decoders with respect to their frequency and phase relationships to determine the most accurate reproduction. Results show that software is able to decode the files with little colouration compared to hardware circuits. It is possible to see which implementation of the analogue or digital decoders match the behavioural characteristics of an “ideal” decoder.

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