AES Section Meeting Reports

Japan - April 15, 2022

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Japan section hosted an online tour of the "MIL (Media Integration Laboratory)" ,that was built by the Media Integration Inc.* in November 2021.
* Media Integration, Inc. was founded in 1989, and works on import and distribution, system integration and E-commerce of professional audio equipment.

First, overview of the MIL was introduced by Ryuichi Kitaki and Yosuke Maeda of Media Integration Inc.
MIL was built with motivation of encouraging technological innovation in these 50 years' audio industries. MIL proposes future environment of sound production with some experimental aspects, so that we can experience cutting-edge technologies of immersive audio production with a wide variety of immersive formats and methods. MIL is not only a production studio but a laboratory where we experience 4-pi spatial audio, learn immersive technologies, and are inspired with new ideas.
MIL generates a 4-pi sound field, all directional reproduction including lower region, via 57 of Focal's CI loudspeakers. They currently provide 43.2ch playback, though up to 62.2ch is potentially available.
AVID's MTRX is used as a monitoring controller for switching signal routes to meet any types of production formats, e.g. Dolby Atmos, Auro-3D, 360 Reality Audio, 22.2ch, FOA, HOA etc. For channel-free immersive productions, FLUX: IRCAM's Spat Revolution is also installed, so that any sound sources can be generated virtually at any positions at the MIL.

Secondly, design concept was introduced by Masataka Nakahara of SONA Corporation.
Dr. Nakahara started with talking briefly about history of relationship between playback channels and wideness of reproduced sound field, and emphasized that the 4-pi sr(steradian) is the final goal of the sound field. 4-pi is also our daily experience of hearing sounds, that is the most natural sound field that everyone reacts instinctively. Audio content sometimes require high audio-skills to evaluate to listen especially in case of fewer playback channels. 4-pi playback can release people from such skills. Under 4-pi playback environment, people just experience sounds, no need to evaluate them. MIL is an ordinary living room where 4-pi auditory experience is realized. It might be easy to install 4-pi playback environment into an anechoic chamber in research institutes, though it does not meet our design concept. To break through a thick wall between the audio world and people, MIL was designed.

Thirdly, various types of immersive sound contents were played back.
They were captured by a Neumann's dummy-head, KU100, at the listening position, and 2ch binaural signals were delivered to audiences via the Zoom's Webinar.
After playing back several commercial contents, 360 Reality Audio, Dolby Atmos and Auro-3D, Prof. Toru Kamekawa of Tokyo University of the Arts played back two kinds of 7th order HOA contents. They were recoded and mixed in his laboratory, and detailed information about recording and mixing methods were also introduced.

Lastly, we had a discussion session.
What is the attraction of creating 4-pi sound content?
-No stress, easy sound creation.
What are the difficulties?
-To imagine how you will make it.
-Cooperation between production people and researchers.
What are the important things for expanding (4-pi) immersive contents?
-Fusion of content production and technology.

The presenters exchanged many opinions lively between each other and with the audience.
Strong demands for experiencing 4-pi sound reproduction were raised from many of the audience.

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AES - Audio Engineering Society