A giant leap for spatial sound? All you need to know about d&b’s new Soundscape update

German pro audio giant d&b audiotechnik has unveiled what it describes as “a big step forward for spatialized and immersive audio in live sound” with its new Soundscape Simulation software. Headliner hears from d&b’s product manager advanced systems, Georg Stummer, to find out what the launch means for the users and audiences.

The new d&b Soundscape update marks the latest additions to its software toolkit - Soundscape Simulation, SPL and localization mapping within an object based workflow.

As part of d&b’s ArrayCalc simulation software, the new visualization tool is designed to accurately model a Soundscape system’s real and perceived acoustical performance within a space.

"This new software optimizes the system approach to allow En-Scene to deliver even better results based on solid acoustical science,” Stummer told Headliner. “Sound reproduction is changing and finally there is a way to accurately demonstrate how Soundscape will improve an overall production by incorporating psycho acoustic evaluation and the simulation of an auditory perception into the d&b workflow.

“The introduction of the En-Scene simulator is a major paradigm shift in the way we model sound,” he continued. “The software gives sound engineers and technicians a design and planning tool that matches their creative reality and makes the experience upgrade that Soundscape delivers more accessible than ever.”

The En-Scene simulation tool allows d&b users of all experience levels to evaluate how the spatialization created with a Soundscape system will be experienced by the audience, meaning that they can optimize the system design early in the planning phase of a production. Furthermore, the En-Scene simulator also demonstrates Soundscape’s ability to improve the overall production and listening experience through object-based processing, according to the company.

“This is a big step forward for spatialized & immersive audio in live sound,” Stummer added. “Now, for the first time, we have had a tool that models beyond the standard measurable audio parameters to consider psychoacoustic factors that affect the experience created and the audiences perception of the sound.”

En-Scene simulation has been engineered to model sound pressure level distribution and perceived object localization for object positions. It creates a simulation of the entire system configuration: the acoustic performance of the loudspeaker system, combined with the En-Scene processing of the DS100 system processor - including all parameters already set by the user.

With regard to object localisation, En-Scene simulation predicts how effective the perceived localization of the sound object is for each listener in the audience area(s). This psychoacoustic calculation is performed by two different models in parallel Precedence and Binaural. The former is an ‘empiric model based on precedence effect and law of the first wavefront’, while the latter is ‘an analysis of the interaural transfer functions and resulting binaural cues using the impulse responses of all sources and a generic set of binaural HRTFs’.

Users can switch between the visualization of the two models at any time according to their preferences and other requirements.

Meanwhile, direct sound SPL mapping of an En-Scene simulation will show maximum level and level distribution over listening areas depending on the sound object’s position. This means that the user can objectively verify the signal distribution over listening areas for different sound object positions. What’s more, this simulation is also designed to enable them to optimize the efficiency of the system design, including number, type and positioning of loudspeaker cabinets.

This also means that a Soundscape system can be planned and evaluated as ‘efficiently and accurately’ as standard d&b system designs within the same d&b workflow.

“Every user in the production chain can now work with the simulation tool and experiment with Soundscape for nearly every application type”, Stummer concludes. “The simulations that are now possible answer the questions about distributed systems that we couldn’t before, like: If I add a loudspeaker, what difference does it make to the audience’s experience? We have entered a new era of science, from measuring to modelling, where there is an accurate and easy way to show first-hand how a Soundscape system can improve overall production and the listening experience.”

The Soundscape simulation is part of the d&b ArrayCalc software and is available to download for free now.