Immersive audio techniques are becoming increasingly important in musical practice, but there is a lack of empirical evidence to back up the assumption that they result in a more intense musical experience. This interdisciplinary project aims to provide an empirical basis for understanding the various aspects involved. Overall, it would allow an innovative approach to creating a qualitatively new, shared listening experience using multi-channel loudspeaker systems, irrespective of the architecture of the auditorium and without the need for headphones.
We will investigate whether Richard Wagner’s ideal of an embedded listening situation – formulated in his writings from 1873 and fully realized in the Bayreuth Festival Theatre in 1876 – can be implemented by means of a digital (virtual) generation of sound environments. Generally speaking, this could help recreate a common listening experience by means of a multi-channel sound transmission system, without having to have particular theatre acoustics or headphones.
This innovative and interdisciplinary research project has as its main research aims:
• to explore the emotional effects of various technical realizations (upmixes) for the transformation of standard stereo signals into immersive surround sound and 3D audio.
• to evaluate various upmix procedures.
• to analyze the impact of various sound environments (e.g., stereo, surround sound) on aesthetic judgements.
Various upmix methods from stereo to multi-channel surround sound and 3D audio will be tested. The differences between the experience of selected immersive sound environments will be evaluated by means of psychological inventories for the objective measurement of room quality. Additionally, electro-physiological correlates of the emotional experience (skin conductance response) will be collected. Simultaneously, based on the sounds of the Vienna Symphonic Library, unechoic versions of Wagner’s music (e.g., preludes to “Das Rheingold” and “Die Walküre”) will be produced. The resulting virtual orchestra recordings will deliberately be combined with selected virtual concert halls and stages. The subjective experience and strength of sound immersion will be determined by existing inventories for the evaluation of room acoustical quality (e.g., RAQI), the experience of presence (e.g., PQ, ITQ), and self-reports on the emotional experience. Listening experiments will be conducted in the Immersive Media Lab of the Institute for Communication Technology (IKT; Leibniz University Hanover, Germany; Prof. Peissig).