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4DSOUND – Pushing The Boundaries of Experiencing Sound

05/01/2017, Author: Audio Academy

What is 4D Sound?

4DSOUND is a collective involved in exploring spatial sound as a medium. Founded in 2007 by composer Paul Oomen and technologists Poul Holleman, Luc van Weelden and Salvador Breed, the collective’s goal was to further the development of new processing software and control interfaces for experiencing sound spatially.

This means that this innovative system does not involve sound coming out of speakers, but rather sound appears in the space as a physical entity. Since then, it has developed an integrated hardware and software system that offers an omnidirectional sound environment.

Simultaneously, 2007 saw audio engineer Leo de Klerk publish his patented application for omnidirectional loudspeakers that enabled a person to produce phantom sound images independent from the place of the listener. Oomen and de Klerk have begun collaborating since 2010 on the development of the system.

How Does One Experience It?

4DSOUND is much more than a sound system. It is a whole body experience. It offers a completely omnidirectional sound environment where the listener can experience sound in an unlimited spatial continuum. From moving very far away to coming really close, sound can move towards the listener, around him, as well as above and beneath him. Not just that, it can even move right through him. The listener’s ears are guides that help explore the space. The experience is beyond anything that has been possible with sound uptll now. The listener can move between blocks of sound, touch lines of sound and walk through walls of sound.

Besides being a sound system, 4DSOUND is also an art installation, a site-specific performance space and for producers who have been invited to make music for it, an instrument unlike anything that has been used so far.

What projects has it resulted in?

4DSOUND eventually led to the establishment of the Spatial Sound Institute in Budapest, a permanent space dedicated to the research and development of spatial sound. From the eclectic community of interdisciplinary artists, coders and makers that have worked with 4DSOUND, projects ranging from electronic music showcases, techno opera, bio-wearable instruments and collaborations with fashion designers have come about. They have all been immersive sonic experiences and interactions.

What Does It Involve?f6f19ca34b10388c44efcf5865a9851d

Built from rough industrial metal, it is made of 16 cylinders as high and wide as palm trees. Nested in three clusters, these house arrays of speakers are below waist, at head height and well overhead. The speaker stacks sit in a four-by- four grid on a grated platform that houses low-frequency drivers. To the side of the room is a larger workstation, with a Macintosh and banks of speaker amplifiers.

A Future of Possibilities

Blurring the boundaries between real and imagined, 4DSOUND enables sonic environments that are tangible. It is opening up numerous possibilities to create, perform and experience sound spatially. The accessibility of the format and the variety of projects 4DSOUND has developed over the years with artists and programmers has resulted in a diverse collection of interfaces and instruments specifically for the system.

From gestural control of sound in space to devices that measure bio-physical and brain-wave data to establish a direct connection between the inner body and the outer space and real-time tracking systems of people moving in the space the possibilities are endless.

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