July 19, 2019
EMPAC’s Spatial Audio Summer Seminar offered unique insights into how sound can be shaped with technology to create spatial auditory experiences. Open to musicians, audio engineers, composers, programmers, and audiophiles of all kinds, the seminar consists of lectures, demonstrations, listening sessions, and performances providing the opportunity to be immersed in the excellent venues and outstanding audio systems at EMPAC.
This year’s seminar featured extensive listening opportunities for participants to focus on the perceptual experience that these systems create. EMPAC’s studios and venues were equipped with several large, high-end systems to directly compare different methods of spatializing audio, including high-order Ambisonic systems, high-density Wave Field Synthesis (WFS) configurations featuring hundreds of loudspeakers, as well as binaural audio streaming.
Focusing on the aesthetic function spatialized audio serves in a specific work, the seminar leaders will guide participants through the application of such systems to experimental, electroacoustic, and “contemporary classical” music, as well as virtual reality installations and soundscapes. This year’s seminar leaders included the composer and performer Natasha Barrett, who performed a concert on the event’s opening night; Markus Noisternig, an expert in immersive 3D audio and researcher at the Paris-based Institute for Research and Coordination in Acoustics/Music (IRCAM); Chris Chafe, director of the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA) at Stanford University; Brendan Baker, radio and podcast producer and sound designer; Bobby McElver, a sound designer and former EMPAC artist-in-residence; and members of the EMPAC audio team.