Sound Reproduction Using Active Control Techniques: Simulations in the

Frequency Domain
Philippe-Aubert Gauthier, Alain Berry
GAUS, Department of Mechanical Engineering
Universit´ e de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke
Philippe-Aubert.Gauthier@USherbrooke.ca
Wieslaw Woszczyk
CIRMMT, Faculty of Music
McGill University, Montr´ eal
Abstract
This paper describes the simulations and results obtained
when applying active control to progressive sound field
reproduction over a ”large” area using multiple monopole
loudspeakers. The model is limited to the simulation of
the acoustical output of the prescribed loudspeaker array
in a simple room, and is based on achieving an optimal
control in the frequency domain. This rather simple ap-
proach is chosen for this first feasibility study concerning
a limited number of possible configurations of sensing
microphones and loudspeakers. Other issues of interest
concern the comparison with Wave Field Synthesis, the
control mechanisms and transducer configurations. As its
demonstrated, in-room reproduction of sound field using
active control can be achieved with a residual normalized
error below 2 percent while open-loop WFS gives more
than 100 percent of error in the same situation. Usage of
active control technique suggests the possibility to auto-
matically overcome the room’s natural dynamics.
1. Introduction
This paper investigates the possibilities for sound field re-
production using active control techniques. Major goals
of this work are feasibility studies with questions con-
cerning: 1) Effect of a reflective acoustic environment on
objective reproduction quality and 2) comparison of ac-
tive control technique with Wave Field Synthesis (WFS).
This work is more connected to wave field simulation
than to perceptual simulation. Although the ultimate goal
of sound field reproduction is an audio application, we
have to be aware that perfect reproduction of sound field
does not necessarily leads to perfect auditory impression
of reproduction since multimodal sensory influences and
cognitive mechanisms are strongly influencing sound lo-
calization [1]. In spite of that, we assume that if not per-
fect, at least optimal sound field reproduction will achieve
desired auditory impression in reproduction if the audio
stimuli are not conflicting with visual indications or other
sensory experiences.
2. Recent advances in sound reproduction
Spatial sound reproduction has been a vivid research do-
main involving artists, engineers and scientists since the
beginning of the century and even sooner [2]. With the
relatively recent arrival of digital representation and mul-
tiple channel of audio, new possibilities of sound field
reproduction have been investigated. Commonly cited
examples are: Binaural techniques [1], ambisonic sound
[2], Wave Field Synthesis (WFS) [3], Stereo-Dipole [4]
and active equalization [4–6]. In a broad sense, most
of those techniques try to improve two aspects of the
consumer level reproduction technology, with variable
weighting and methods. 1) Achieve a large listening area
for a given audience. 2) Create an appropriate 3-D (or
2-D) auditory scene. Techniques mentioned above are
distinguished from simple multichannel loudspeaker sys-
tems where the mixing engineer is entirely responsible
of the channels’ content, like for the well-known 5.1 or
10.2 surround systems [2]. It should be noted that WFS
systems use synthesis operators (based on Kirchhoff-
Helmholtz theorem [3, 7]) to ”link” virtual monophonic
sources (radiating plane or spherical waves) to a given
loudspeaker array. WFS operates with an open-loop ar-
chitecture and implies fundamental assumptions: 1) Vir-
tual free-field space and 2) free-field reproduction space.
Room compensation is only considered, in specific appli-
cations [8], as a post-synthesis operation.
3. Review of the theoretical model
The reproduction system can be characterized by L sim-
ple monopole sources and M error sensors in a rectan-
gular room where we assume a uniformly distributed and
locally reactive acoustic admittance for the room’s sur-
faces. The current model is more effective for low fre-
quencies, where the monopole assumption may be more
firmly linked with closed-box loudspeaker cabinets. The
upper frequency limit is set to 400Hz for computation
efficiency. We still, however, cover a representative fre-
quency range (above and below the Schroeder frequency
[7]) for the given room where simple and harmonic wave
We4.D.1
III - 2149
reproductions are considered.
In a room, the reproduced pressure is related to
monopoles’ source strength by a Green’s function expan-
sion over the room’s damped modes (see Morse and In-
gard [9] who suggest the used first-order approximation
assuming uniformly distributed low specific acoustic ad-
mittance ratio over room’s walls). The following simu-
lations are performed using such model including 6137
room’s modes in the Green’s function. This has shown
the total acoustical potential energy convergence below
400Hz. Once the reproduced pressure is determined in
the room’s volume, one can apply optimal control formu-
lation which gives an Hermitian quadratic function of the
source strength [7]. This function is defined as J
M
=
e
H
e +γq
H
q, where q is the complex source strength col-
umn vector, γ the regularization parameter and e the error
vector at the error sensors, namely pressure sensors. H
superscript denotes the Hermitian transpose. The error
vector is defined by e(x
(m)
) = p
(im)
(x
(m)
) − Z
(m)
q,,
where p
(im)
is the target field evaluated at the total M
sensors’ positions , Z
(m)
a transfer impedance matrix and
q, the reproduction source strength. Using Tikhonov reg-
ularization, we include some frequency independent reg-
ularization in the inverse problem [10] using γ which is
fixed at 50 since it seems to provide, following numer-
ical experiments, a good compromise between optimal
source strength minimization and error reduction. When
M > L, J
M
shows a unique minimum defined by the
optimal source strength complex vector
q
opt
=

Z
(m)H
Z
(m)
+ γI

−1
Z
(m)H
p
(im)
(x
(m)
), (1)
where I is the identity matrix. We now define the
residual normalized quadratic error E
LS
which is sim-
ply the minimized cost function (excluding regulariza-
tion) divided by the cost function evaluated with q =

0
and finally the l source’s acoustical power output Π
l
=
(1/2)Re

p(x
(l)
l
)
H
q
l

.
For WFS simulation, general non-focusing synthe-
sis operators are used with straight reference line across
room’s center [3]. Some adjustments have been applied
to match the time dependence convention and monopole
source strength definition.
4. Simulation results
The system configuration is depicted in Fig. 1. The
simulation system includes 50 sources and 81 sensors
which cover a 1m
2
area. Room’s dimensions have been
defined in accordance with the Audio Engineering So-
ciety and German Surround Sound Forum’s recommen-
dation for the optimum size of multichannel monitor
rooms [2, 11]. For the given volume, 139m
3
(precisely
7.5 × 6.4 × 2.8956; sources and sensors height: 1.2m),
a nominal reverberation time of 0.28s is suggested [2].
Using the Eyring-Norris reverberation model for diffuse
Figure 1: Configuration (square: sources, asterisk: sen-
sors) and real part of the target wave field at 220Hz.
field [12], we find an associated absorption coefficient
which is transformed to an equivalent specific conduc-
tance ratio [12]. In this case, we set the surface-specific
conductance ratio, β, to 0.0651, which is frequency inde-
pendent and uniform on room’s surfaces.
We first evaluate the reflective environment’s effect
on optimal reproduction at the sensor array position in
comparison with WFS. Fig. 2 introduces the compar-
ison, for such a configuration, between optimal control
and WFS. E
LS
for optimal control in room is clearly be-
low 0.02. Reduction of the error over the considered fre-
quency range is also evident. By comparison, WFS pro-
duces an E
LS
higher than one for the same frequency
range in the simulated room. Recalling that an E
LS
value of one corresponds to an error as important as per-
fect silence in the reproduction space, we may expect
serious difference between target wave field and repro-
duced wave field by WFS. (Note that for this configu-
ration of sources, WFS aliasing frequency is just below
400Hz [3].) This idea is presented in Fig. 1 to 7 where
real and imaginary parts of the pressure have been in-
troduced. The optimal control system seems to properly
recreate the wave front at the position of sensor-array in
the room. Moreover, Fig. 8 to 10 clearly show power ab-
sorption as a beneficial operating mechanism responsible
for providing optimal reproduction.
Another configuration is introduced in Fig. 11 for
free-field condition. This interesting setup may be con-
ceptually linked with WFS since the adjustment of pres-
sure and pressure gradient produces a convenient repro-
duced wave field inside the surrounding sensor array, as
we can expect from Kirchhoff-Helmhotlz theorem. Fu-
ture work should be devoted to this type of sensor arrays.
5. Discussion
Loudspeakers can be relatively inexpensive allowing
their liberal use in multiple-loudspeaker arrays. On the
other hand, a microphone array (sensor-array), such as
the one introduced in Fig. 1 and 11, gives no practical
III - 2150
100 200 300 400
10
−3
10
−2
10
−1
10
0
10
1
E
L
S
20 100 200 300 400
0
2
4
6
x 10
−4
|
q
o
p
t
|
Freq. [Hz]


E
L
S

=

0
.
5

Dashed lines : WFS
Figure 2: E
LS
(on left) and |q
opt
| =

q
H
opt
q
opt
(on right)
for spherical wave reproduction (see Fig. 1). Solid lines:
Optimal control. Dashed lines: WFS.
Figure 3: Imaginary part of the target field at 220Hz.
advantages to an audience and its presence may be even
questionable in comparison with multiple channel open-
loop systems such as WFS. Strong benefits of the sen-
sor array and active control are related to closed-loop and
adaptive architectures for automated room spatial equal-
ization, as we have seen. From an active control perspec-
tive, the systems which include a huge quantity of chan-
nels may become a computational burden. On the other
hand, depending on controller architecture and adapta-
tion scheme, reduction in adaptive computation time can
be achieved. We still use the physical model for inves-
tigation purposes, because it can give good indications
about the possibilities for creating a simple wave front in
a given horizontal region. From the practical aspects of
audio systems and sound control, it is more than evident
that a reduced quantity of sensors should be considered
in subsequent simulations (Fig. 11 can be seen as such
solution). Any reduction in sensor load would provide a
practically more viable solution.
6. Conclusions
In view of the presented here simulations, it may be con-
cluded that active control techniques can be applied to
sound field reproduction with promising results achieved
in rooms. This technique seems to provide more accu-
rate sound field reproduction than a standard open-loop
WFS system operating in a room. Even if the model
used here is oversimplifying the real situations, reveal-
ing conclusions can be derived from these simulations.
Further work should be devoted to simulations with vari-
ous practical arrays, larger listening areas, free-field situ-
ations and control mechanisms.
7. Acknowledgments
This work has been supported by NSERC, NATEQ, VRQ
and Universit´ e de Sherbrooke.
8. References
[1] Blauert, J., Spatial Hearing: The Psychophysics of
Human Sound Localization, MIT Press, Cambridge,
1999.
[2] Rumsey, F., Spatial Audio, Focal Press, Oxford,
2001.
[3] Verheijen, E.N.G., Sound Reproduction by Wave
Field Synthesis, Ph.D. thesis, Delft University of
Technology, Delft, 1997.
[4] Nelson, P.A., ”Active Control for Virtual Acous-
tics”, Proc. of Active 2002, 2002, p. 67-89.
[5] Kirkeby, O. and Nelson, P.A., ”Reproduction of
Plane Wave Sound Fields”, J. Acoust. Soc. Amer.,
Vol. 94, No. 5, 1993, p. 2992-3000.
[6] Garas, J., Adaptive 3D Sound Systems, Technische
Universiteit Eindhoven, Eindhoven, 1999.
[7] Nelson, P.A. and Elliott, S.J., Active Control of
Sound, Academic Press, London, 1992.
[8] Spors, S., Kuntz, A. and Rabenstein, R., ”An
Approach to Listening Room Compensation with
Wave Field Synthesis”, Proc. of the AES 24th In-
ternational Conference, 2003, p. 70-82.
[9] Morse, P.M. and Ingard, K.U., Theoretical Acous-
tics, McGraw-Hill, New York, 1968.
[10] Nelson, P.A., ”A Review of Some Inverse Problems
in Acoustics”, International Journal of Acoustics
and Vibration, Vol. 6, No. 3, 2001, p. 118-134.
[11] AES Technical Council, AESTD1001.0.01-05,
Multichannel surround sound systems and opera-
tions, AES, New York, 2001.
[12] Kinsler, L.E., Frey, A.R., Coppens, A.B. and
Sanders, J.V., Fundamentals of Acoustics, John Wi-
ley and Sons, New York, 2000.
III - 2151
Figure 4: Real part of the reproduced wave field using
optimal control at 220Hz.
Figure 5: Imaginary part of the reproduced wave field
using optimal control at 220Hz.
Figure 6: Real part of the reproduced wave field at
220Hz using WFS.
Figure 7: Imaginary part of the reproduced wave field at
220Hz using WFS.
2.5
5
7.5
0
2.5
5
0
5
10
x 10
−7
x
1
[m]
x
2
[m]
P
o
w
e
r

o
u
t
p
u
t

[
W
]
Positive
Negative
Figure 8: Power output for optimal control while repro-
ducing a spherical wave at 220Hz.
2.5
5
7.5
0
2
4
6
0
0.5
1
x 10
−6
P
o
w
e
r

o
u
t
p
u
t

[
W
]
Figure 9: Power output while reproducing a spherical
wave at 220Hz, with WFS. Diamond markers denote
sources that are turned off.
2.5
5
7.5
0
2.5
5
0
2
4
x 10
−7
x
1
[m]
x
2
[m]
P
o
w
e
r

o
u
t
p
u
t

[
W
]
Positive
Negative
Figure 10: Power output for optimal control while repro-
ducing a spherical wave at 70.5Hz.
Figure 11: Real part of a reproduced wave field at 220Hz
in free field with optimal control (target wave field defined
by a spherical source in (-1,2.8,1.2)).
III - 2152

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