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Old 9th November 2008, 05:27 PM   #1
kstrain is offline kstrain  Scotland
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Default Ambiophonic optimal source distribution experiment (part 1: Introduction)

This is a report on some fun I have had over the last couple of weeks trying OSD. It was stimulated by a remark by "dwk123" in the thread:-


I'll post in 3 sections:-

Part 1: Introduction
Part 2: Equipment
Part 3: Setting it up

The idea of optimal source distribution instantly appealed as a way to make an ambiophonic setup with a normal total radiated power spectrum. So that, even though the ambiophonic experience can only be had along the centre line, and more or less at the right distance, the overall tone balance is unremarkable most places in the room.

Normally with 2 full range loudspeakers the filter needed to generate the cancellation produces a quite horrible off axis response. This was always a big negative to me when trying ambiophonics (as I have for some time, on and off).

The idea with OSD is that the spectrum is broken up into bands that are dealt with by speakers positioned such that the cancellation filter is friendly. After a brief and remarkably pleasant try with two bands (split at 2kHz or so), it seems that 3 bands can work very well. Better than I would ever have imagined given the at first nonsensical arrangement of drive units around the room!

In brief the plan is

tweeters: 5kHz and up, spaced such that a 1 sample delay can be used in a RACE like filter (no strongly audible response artifacts). For my listening distance the spacing is 40cm (i.e. both 20cm from the centre)

upper mid: 2kHz to 5kHz spaced 4 times as much, again the filter need not have any strong artifacts

mid: 300Hz to 2 KHz: spaced 9 times as much as tweeters

bass: no ambiophonic effect applied below 300 Hz (described later).

The filters were generated using MATLAB following the recipe hinted at at ambiophonics.org. In the first approach (which is quite good but not perfect) the "crossovers" applied to the speakers were put in the simulation. This leads, as might be expected, to some peaks and notches - some refinement work is needed.
The impulse response from MATLAB was entered into the stereo-convolver Foobar2000 DSP plugin.

So the RACE filters, done with a "loss" factor of 0.7 (also tried 0.85 for the Mid), had delays of 1,4,and 9 samples for the 3 bands (they don't need to be integer values, but it worked out that way).

The shocking thing is that this works tolerably well on 9/10 recordings, excellently on many, and sounds bad only on a few (that are usually not that good in stereo either). How is that possible when the tweeter for each channel is 60cm from the upper mid that is in turn 1m further out?

A large number of measurements shows quite a reasonable overall sound field throughout a wide spot near the middle of the room (where I listen). Nothing very remarkable about the peaks and troughs compared to the usual stereo case (differ in detail, but not really when taken as an ensemble - without statistical analysis!)

In case the description is unclear, the rough layout is

B .............................................B

M.........UM......T...T .....UM........M

though the speakers are in fact on an arc, quite precisely centred on the usual listening position.
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Old 9th November 2008, 05:52 PM   #2
kstrain is offline kstrain  Scotland
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Default Part 2: Equipment

Brief notes on the equipment:-

PC with Foobar 2000, stereo_convolver and crossover plugins. Output via Echo Gina 3g.

Channels and processing:-
Analog 1 and 2 go to Behringer ultradrive which sets the crossovers (and minimal EQ) for B,M and T. Analog 3 and 4 drives the UM amplifier. Digital 1 (mono) drives two subs via a home made DAC and a parametric EQ. The subs see the same signal, but one has a low pass, gain and phase adjust.

Drivers, enclosures and amplifiers:-

T: SEAS H1499 (27TBCD/GB-DXT) - the only part bought specially for this. I needed a small baffle tolerant tweeter, and the horn loading makes it easy to use with only minimal care regarding diffraction. Two are mounted 40cm apart on a custom stand, at ear level. Driven by a tripath TA2024 amplifier (plenty for >5 kHz), 4th order highpass (near butterworth). These have mderately controlled directivity in the frequency band in which they are used.

UM: B&C DE250 on 18Sound XT1086 with heavy stuffing of horn with absorbant material (wadding of unknown type). This gives a beautifully smooth response well beyond the 2 to 5 kHz band used (no eq needed in that band). Same type tripath amp as T. Positioned at +/- 0.8m from the centre line, at ear height. These have moderately controlled directivity in the band.

M: B&C 8PE21 in a small box with short front-back distance and heavy stuffing. Works well from 300Hz to 2kHz (just). Driven by Hypex 180st. 4th order acoustic filters at both ends. Positioned +/- 1.8m. These are omnidirectional at the low end, dradually narrowing towards 2kHz.

B: PD12SB30, in 120l, reflex loaded. Response to 45Hz in room -6dB. 4th order low pass (no high pass except "rumble filter". Another UCD amp. Omnidirectional.

Subs: PD1550 Tapped Horn (mentioned in the Collaborative Tapped Horn thread in subwoofers), covers 20Hz to 50Hz then falls off (all the higher peaks removed. This is in the middle of a long wall. Signal also goes to a BK Electronics Monolith (100l 12" reflex sub) in a corner working from about 30Hz to 60 Hz. These subs partly overlap the B. (Sort of Geddes-like.)

I think those are the main points.
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Old 9th November 2008, 06:27 PM   #3
kstrain is offline kstrain  Scotland
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Default Part 3: setup

To recap, the RACE filters in each band are designed for the speaker spacing in each band such that they all "come together" at the same listening point. This seems to have worked, but required extremely precise speaker positioning.

The rough optimum distance for each band was checked and was close to 3m in each case (the in-out direction is least critical in the RACE method).

The listening position was fixed and a string used to mark the speaker positions to within a couple of mm. The effective position of each unit was obtained by impulse response measurement at two distances, and taken into account in placing the speakers on an arc.

The tweeters must be within ~1mm of their desired front-back location (relative, not absolute), and to make this easier they are mounted on a single "baffle", on a stand that can be rotated finely.

Since there are no traditional crossovers (!) the units were individually balanced within their respective bands. The surprising thing was that, they integrate very well. (The target power response was the usually desired gentle fall off with increasing frequency, and is achieved.) A pair of UniQ speakers (opposite extreme in terms of time coherence) were used as a listening reference for overall balance - not that they sound particularly wonderful, but a reference is needed.

The bands were as described in part 2, with the UM band defined by the Foobar crossover, as was the low-pass for the subs (needed to kill the TH resonances above about 100 Hz).

The SEAS tweeters give a very smooth response at most measuring positions (slight sign of the expected diffraction dip), the RACE filters have an artifact of rising response above 10kHz, which nicely matches the SEAS. No EQ.

The DE250s give a deliciously smooth response on the horns (no EQ needed in band, HF droop used as part of desired low-pass).

The Mids show a slight sign of the first reflection coming through the cone, this was EQ'd (not spatial).


Apart from the power response which was measured, the rest is subjective (hence of almost no value, but ...)

provided my head is within a couple of cm left-right of the correct position, and within perhaps 50cm of the correct front-back position, there is a solid, detailled and robust image. A predicted (by others) and remarkable property is that the image is robust against head rotation by +/- 20 degrees at least.

There is very little attachment of the image to the speakers. Recordings without tricks give an image about +/- 40 degrees (roughly) though with tricks and room echoes coming from just about anywhere (sometimes convincing). Quite often the sense of "space" is pleasant.

I've listened to ~100 recordings from large scale orchestra (Reference Recordings, Waterlily included), chamber works, pop, rock, jazz,... and most seem to work about as well as I've ever experienced: not what I was expecting (of course it could all be just novelty that wears off, but not so far ...).


once again thanks to dwk123 for the remark that led to all this fun.
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Old 10th November 2008, 03:52 AM   #4
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Nice job. Good to know that my aimless ramblings are good for something :-)

Very ambitious setup for a first cut IMHO - I was thinking of a simple 2-way plus sub for the first try, but I guess in-for-a-penny in-for-a-pound.

I'm intrigued by your results. On one hand, +-40 is much narrower than I experienced in my casual ambio setup. On the other hand 9/10 success rate is off the charts compared to what I experienced. For me it was 'reference recordings only need apply'.

Arrrgh. Now I *really* need to find time to try this out.

[edit] I tried to email you through the forum, but you have it disabled. I'd be interested in chatting offline about this - drop me an email through the forum if you are so inclined.
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Old 10th November 2008, 06:33 AM   #5
kstrain is offline kstrain  Scotland
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Originally posted by dwk123
I'm intrigued by your results. On one hand, +-40 is much narrower than I experienced in my casual ambio setup. On the other hand 9/10 success rate is off the charts compared to what I experienced. For me it was 'reference recordings only need apply'.
I'm probably not quite there yet with the image, but what I find is that many recordings have a solid well defined "core" (say +/-40 degrees) with a surrounding, less well-defined "cloud" - often due to effects but sometimes giving at least the impression of something genuine.

The 9/10 distinguishes those that are listenable from those that really do not work, perhaps my acceptance criterion is too low. If I look for any flaw in the image then it is fair to say that very few are utterly convincing. The main thing is that tonaly most recordings don't fall apart in the way that many did with my implementations of simple ambiophonics.

I've got ideas for tweaking the filters - when (if) I get a really reliable recipe I'll publish it. At the moment there is a bit of judgement needed.


ps. I minimise email (I regard it as a necessary evil), the one I use for the forum is never read now.
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Old 15th November 2008, 03:12 PM   #6
kstrain is offline kstrain  Scotland
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Default More ramblings: doing it "properly" now

I eventually got time to digest "Optimal Source Distribution for Virtual Acoustic Imaging, T. Takeuchi and P. A. Nelson, ISVR Technical Report No 288 February 2000" and made up the filter to do OSD correctly as per the original idea of those authors.

In very brief summary, the required transfer functions are Li to Lo = Ri to Ro = 1 (Li = left in etc.), Li to Ro = Ri to Lo = -i*g. Here i is the complex unit and g is an amplitude scaling factor to account for the left ear hearing the right speaker a little quieter than it does the left speaker.

Even with the animations at ISVR, I didn't find it all that easy to see exactly how this works, compared to RACE, which is why I hesitated to try it out.

Implementing the 90-degree (i) phase shift, i.e. a Hilbert transform, was done using a 151 tap FIR filter generated by the remez function in MATLAB (using the fdatool). The lower and upper limits (for the target function) were 100 Hz and 19kHz. The lower 1dB point came out about 200 Hz. These parameters were found as a result of trial and error - I did not want the filter to be too long, but felt that it would need to fit to better than 1dB over the important range.

A Simulink diagram, used to generate the 2x2 impulses for the Foobar2000 Stereo Convolver contained the following:
4th order low and high pass at 200 Hz, low passed signals are fed straight through to the output summation, high pass signals go through the OSD matrix.

The OSD matrix is as follows:

Li to Lo (etc.): simple delay of half the Hilbert FIR filter length.
-Li to Ro (etc.): gain factor g followed by the FIR filter.

The outputs of low-pass, delay, and FIR, were then summed for each channel.

This also works! It is much easier to generate than the approximate RACE version I reported earlier (which needs quite careful choice of some parameters: I was a bit lucky first time round with it as it could have worked much less well with different crossover frequencies etc.).

The only adjustable parameters in the correct method are g and the LF cutoff (which is not all that critical, I think). I tried g = 0.95 and g = 0.85, independent of frequency. I think the former is better (but am at an early stage in evaluation). The truth is g should depend on frequency so I need to find a reasonable HRTF model to study to find a good choice of g. Suggestions gratefully received!

The speaker setup is (so far) exactly as described earlier (the positions are probably not optimum for the chosen crossover frequencies, but they are not far off).

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Old 19th November 2008, 08:40 PM   #7
kstrain is offline kstrain  Scotland
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Default update

In the event that anyone is interested ...

i) the Hilbert transformer was 150 taps (not 151)

ii) my bass speakers are not far enough apart to do the OSD down to 200Hz (needs almost 180 degrees), so the filters were adjusted up to 400Hz

iii) the speaker positions (mid and up) are close to optimal for 4m listening distance (and my head size)

iv) the 0.85 g-factor is better, and studying HRTFs shows that it is a better fit to typical examples (and a constant value is not as bad an approximation as it might seem at first thought - because the speakers subtend a larger angle at low frequency)

I'm enjoying this!

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Old 30th November 2008, 05:21 PM   #8
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glad to see other people interested in OPSODIS. I ran it for about two years using a foobar FIR crossover and waves crosstalk cancellation for each channel. Ultimately, I abandoned the project because of connectivity limitations, audio latency and room setup.

Since everything ran through foobar and audiomulch for processing, everything needed to stay at a fixed sample rate (in this case I chose 48khz). I could only have one analog input and one digital external input, and it was constantly resampled using creative X-fi. Further, latency using FIR based crossover filters showed latency in 100ms+ range and was noticeable while watching TV. I moved back to IIR crossover filters, but the sound was not as convincing as FIR.

Lastly, having speakers arcing across a room looked, well, rather ugly. With the precise setup required, you really have no choice on where you can place the speakers.

I hope marantz continues implementing OPSODIS in products, as I really want the technology to go mainstream.
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Old 30th November 2008, 05:55 PM   #9
kstrain is offline kstrain  Scotland
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"glad to see other people interested in OPSODIS."
I'm surprised how few (well in retrospect, perhaps not). It is so much easier to live with than ambiophonics, yet that is more often discussed (of course it is older).

"Since everything ran through foobar ...."
Indeed it is hard to avoid latency (no concern to me, as I only listen to music played in Foobar).

"I hope marantz continues implementing OPSODIS in products"

I'll be pleasantly surprised if they can pull it off on a significant scale.

The OPSODIS extension (mentioned earlier) is hard to find out about - no freely published info at all (beyond one talk abstract).

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Old 30th November 2008, 06:55 PM   #10
poldus is offline poldus  Europe
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Ive already ordered a 400hz passive line level crossover from marchand so I can implement osd. Im really looking forward to it. Im actually very happy with the stereo dipole as it is.

In my opinion OSD could be an addition to an ambiophonic set-up but cannot substitute for it. Ambience through convolution is still a must for ambiophonics as its name suggests.
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