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Implementing and Evaluating a Higher-order Ambisonic Sound System in a Multi-purpose Facility: A Lab Report

Although Ambisonic sound reproduction has an extensive history, it started finding more widespread use in the past decade due to the advances in computer hardware that enable real-time encoding and decoding of Ambisonic sound fields, availability of user-friendly software that facilitate the rendering of such sound fields, and recent developments in immersive media technologies, such as AR and VR systems, that prompt new research into spatial audio. In this paper, we discuss the design, implementation, and evaluation of a third-order Ambisonic system in an academic facility that is built to serve a range of functions including instruction, research, and artistic performances. Due to the multi-purpose nature of this space, there are numerous limitations to consider when designing an Ambisonic sound system that can operate efficiently without interfering with the variety of activities regularly carried out in it. We discuss our approach to working around such limitations and evaluating the resulting system. To that end, we present a user study conducted to assess the performance of this system in terms of perceived spatial accuracy. Based on the growing number of such facilities around the world, we believe that the design and evaluation methods presented here can be of use in the implementation of spatial audio systems in similar multi-purpose environments.

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AES - Audio Engineering Society