General-purpose ambisonic playback systems for electroacoustic concerts; a practical approach
Concerts of electro-acoustic music regularly feature works written for various speaker layouts. Except in the most luxurious of circumstances, this implies compromises in placement, frequent interruptions of the concert experience to relocate speakers, and/or error-prone equipment rewiring or reconfiguration during the concert. To overcome this, an Ambisonic higher-order playback system can be used to create virtual speakers at any position as mandated by the compositions. As a bonus, the performer can then be given realtime control of the source positions in addition to their levels, increasing the creative freedom of live sound diffusion. Deployments at LAC 2009 and the 2009 DEGEM concert at musikFabrik in Cologne have yielded very good results and were met with general approval. Additionally, two informal listening tests with a group of film sound artists and electroacoustic composers were conducted to gather expert opinions on advantages and shortcomings of the proposed virtual speaker system.