Aeroacoustic Sound Effects – Journal Article

I am delighted to be able to announce that my article on Creating Real-Time Aeroacoustic Sound Effects Using Physically Informed Models is in this months Journal of the Audio Engineering Society. This is an invited article following winning the best paper award at the Audio Engineering Society 141st Convention in LA. It is an open access article so free for all to download!

The article extends the original paper by examining how the Aeolian tone synthesis models can be used to create a number of sound effects. The benefits of these models are that the produce plausible sound effects which operate in real-time. Users are presented with a number of highly relevant parameters to control the effects which can be mapped directly to 3D models within game engines.

The basics of the Aeolian tone were given in a previous blog post. To summarise, a tone is generated when air passes around an object and vortices are shed behind it. Fluid dynamic equations are available which allow a prediction of the tone frequency based on the physics of the interaction between the air and object. The Aeolian tone is modelled as a compact sound source.

To model a sword or similar object a number of these compact sound sources are placed in a row. A previous blog post describes this in more detail. The majority of compact sound sources are placed at the tip as this is where the airspeed is greatest and the greatest sound is generated.

The behaviour of a sword when being swung has to be modelled which then used to control some of the parameters in the equations. This behaviour can be controlled by a game engine making fully integrated procedural audio models.

The sword model was extended to include objects like a baseball bat and golf club, as well as a broom handle. The compact sound source of a cavity tone was also added in to replicate swords which have grooved profiles. Subjective evaluation gave excellent results, especially for thicker objects which were perceived as plausible as pre-recorded samples.

The synthesis model could be extended to look at a range of sword cross sections as well as any influence of the material of the sword. It is envisaged that other sporting equipment which swing or fly through the air could be modelled using compact sound sources.

A propeller sound is one which is common in games and film and partially based on the sounds generated from the Aeolian tone and vortex shedding. As a blade passes through the air vortices are shed at a specific frequency along the length. To model individual propeller blades the profiles of a number were obtained with specific span length (centre to tip) and chord lengths (leading edge to trailing edge).

Another major sound source is the loading sounds generated by the torque and thrust. A procedure for modelling these sounds is outlined in the article. Missing from the propeller model is distortion sounds. These are more associated with rotors which turn in the horizontal plane.

An important sound when hearing a propeller powered aircraft is the engine sound. The one taken for this model was based on one of Andy Farnell’s from his book Designing Sound. Once complete a user is able to select an aircraft from a pre-programmed bank and set the flight path. If linked to a game engine the physical dimensions and flight paths can all be controlled procedurally.

Listening tests indicate that the synthesis model was as plausible as an alternative method but still not as plausible as pre-recorded samples. It is believed that results may have been more favourable if modelling electric-powered drones and aircraft which do not have the sound of a combustion engine.

The final model exploring the use of the Aeolian tone was that of an Aeolian Harp. This is a musical instrument that is activated by wind blowing around the strings. The vortices that are shed behind the string can activate a mechanical vibration if they are around the frequency of one of the strings natural harmonics. This produces a distinctive sound.

The digital model allows a user to synthesis a harp of up to 13 strings. Tension, mass density, length and diameter can all be adjusted to replicate a wide variety of string material and harp size. Users can also control a wind model modified from one presented in Andy Farnell’s book Designing Sound, with control over the amount of gusts. Listening tests indicate that the sound is not as plausible as pre-recorded ones but is as plausible as alternative synthesis methods.

The article describes the design processes in more detail as well as the fluid dynamic principles each was developed from. All models developed are open source and implemented in pure data. Links to these are in the paper as well as my previous publications. Demo videos can be found on YouTube.

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Greatest JAES papers of all time, Part 2

Last week I revealed Part 1 of the greatest ever papers published in the Journal of the Audio Engineering Society (JAES). JAES is the premier peer-reviewed journal devoted exclusively to audio technology, and the flagship publication of the AES. This week, its time for Part 2. There’s little rhyme or reason to how I divided up and selected the papers, other than I started by looking at the most highly cited ones according to Google Scholar. But all the papers listed here have had major impact on the science, education and practice of audio engineering and related fields.

All of the papers below are available from the Audio Engineering Society (AES) E-library, the world’s most comprehensive collection of audio information. It contains over 16,000 fully searchable PDF files documenting the progression of audio research from 1953 to the present day. It includes every AES paper published at a convention, conference or in the Journal. Members of the AES get free access to the E-library. To arrange for an institutional license, giving full access to all members of an institution, contact Lori Jackson Lori Jackson directly, or go to http://www.aes.org/e-lib/subscribe/ .

And without further ado, here are the rest of the Selected greatest JAES papers

More than any other work, this 1992 paper by Stanley Lipshitz and co-authors has resulted in the correct application of dither by music production. Its one possible reason that digital recording quality improved after the early years of the Compact Disc (though the loudness wars reversed that trend). As renowned mastering engineer Bob Katz put it, “if you want to get your digital audio done just right, then you should learn about dither,” and there is no better resource than this paper.

According to Wikipedia, this 1993 paper coined the term Auralization as an analogy to visualization for rendering audible (imaginary) sound fields. This general research area of understanding and rendering the sound field of acoustic spaces has resulted in several other highly influential papers. Berkhout’s 1988 A holographic approach to acoustic control (575 citations) described the appealingly named acoustic holography method for rendering sound fields. In 1999, the groundbreaking Creating interactive virtual acoustic environments (427 citations) took this further, laying out the theory and challenges of virtual acoustics rendering, and paving the way for highly realistic audio in today’s Virtual Reality systems.

The Schroeder reverberator was first described here, way back in 1962. It has become the basis for almost all algorithmic reverberation approaches. Manfred Schroeder was another great innovator in the audio engineering field. A long transcript of a fascinating interview is available here, and a short video interview below.

These two famous papers are the basis for the Thiele Small parameters. Thiele rigorously analysed and simulated the performance of loudspeakers in the first paper from 1971, and Small greatly extended the work in the second paper in 1972. Both had initially published the work in small Australian journals, but it didn’t get widely recognised until the JAES publications. These equations form the basis for much of loudspeaker design.

Check out;

or the dozens of youtube videos about choosing and designing loudspeakers which make use of these parameters.

This is the first English language publication to describe the Haas effect, named after the author. Also called the precedence effect, it investigated the phenomenon that when sending the same signal to two loudspeakers, a small delay between the speakers results in the sound appearing to come just from one speaker. Its now widely used in sound reinforcement systems, and in audio production to give a sense of depth or more realistic panning (the Haas trick).

Hass-effect

This is the first ever research paper published in JAES. Published in August 1949, it set a high standard for rigour, while at the same time emphasising that many publications will have strong relevance not just to researchers, but to audiophiles and practitioners as well.

It described a new instrument for frequency response measurement and display. People just love impulse response and transfer function measurements, and some of the most highly cited JAES papers are on this topic; 1983’s An efficient algorithm for measuring the impulse response using pseudorandom noise (308 citations), Transfer-function measurement with maximum-length sequences (771 citations), the 2001 paper from a Brazil-based team, Transfer-function measurement with sweeps (722 citations), and finally Comparison of different impulse response measurement techniques (276 citations) in 2002. With a direct link between theory and new applications, these papers on maximum length sequence approaches and sine sweeps were major advances over the alternatives, and changed the way such measurements are made.

And the winner is… Ville Pulkki’s Vector Base Amplitude Panning (VBAP) paper! This is the highest cited paper in JAES. Besides deriving the stereo panning law from basic geometry, it unveiled VBAP, an intuitive and now widely used spatial audio technique. Ten years later, Pulkki unveiled another groundbreaking spatial audio format, DirAC, in Spatial sound reproduction with directional audio coding (386 citations).

Greatest JAES papers of all time, Part 1

The Journal of the Audio Engineering Society (JAES) is the premier publication of the AES, and is the only peer-reviewed journal devoted exclusively to audio technology. The first issue was published in 1949, though volume 1 began in 1953. For the past 70 years, it has had major impact on the science, education and practice of audio engineering and related fields.

I was curious which were the most important JAES papers, so had a look at Google Scholar to see which had the most citations. This has lots of issues, not just because Scholar won’t find everything, but because a lot of the impact is in products and practice, which doesn’t usually lead to citing the papers. Nevertheless, I looked over the list, picked out some of the most interesting ones and following no rules except my own biases, selected the Greatest Papers of All Time Published in the Journal of the Audio Engineering Society. Not surprisingly, the list is much longer than a single blog entry, so this is just part 1.

All of the papers below are available from the Audio Engineering Society (AES) E-library, the world’s most comprehensive collection of audio information. It contains over 16,000 fully searchable PDF files documenting the progression of audio research from 1953 to the present day. It includes every AES paper published at a convention, conference or in the Journal. Members of the AES get free access to the E-library. To arrange for an institutional license, giving full access to all members of an institution, contact Lori Jackson Lori Jackson directly, or go to http://www.aes.org/e-lib/subscribe/ .

Selected greatest JAES papers

ambisonicsThis is the main ambisonics paper by one* of its originator, Michael Gerzon, and perhaps the first place the theory was described in detail (and very clearly too). Ambisonics is incredibly flexible and elegant. It is now used in a lot of games and has become the preferred audio format for virtual reality. Two other JAES ambisonics papers are also very highly cited. In 1985, Michael Gerzon’s Ambisonics in multichannel broadcasting and video (368 citations) described the high potential of ambisonics for broadcast audio, which is now reaching its potential due to the emergence of object-based audio production. And 2005 saw Mark Poletti’s Three-dimensional surround sound systems based on spherical harmonics (348 citations), which rigorously laid out and generalised all the mathematical theory of ambisonics.

*See the comment on this entry. Jerry Bauck correctly pointed out that Duane H. Cooper was the first to describe ambisonics in some form, and Michael Gerzon credited him for it too. Cooper’s work was also published in JAES. Thanks Jerry.

James Moorer

This isn’t one of the highest cited papers, but it still had huge impact, and James Moorer is a legend in the field of audio engineering (see his prescient ‘Audio in the New Millenium‘). The paper popularised the phase vocoder, now one of the most important building blocks of modern audio effects. Auto-tune, anyone?

Richard Heyser’s Time Delay Spectrometry technique allowed one to make high quality anechoic spectral measurements in the presence of a reverberant environment. It was ahead of its time since despite the efficiency and elegance, computing power was not up to employing the method. But by the 1980s, it was possible to perform complex on-site measurements of systems and spaces using Time Delay Spectrometry. The AES now organises Heyser Memorial Lectures in his honor.

hrtf

Together, these two papers by Henrik Møller et al completed transformed the world of binaural audio. The first paper described the first major dataset of detailed HRTFs, and how they vary from subject to subject. The second studied localization performance when subjects listened to a soundfield, the same soundfield using binaural recordings with their own HRTFs, and those soundfields using the HRTFs of others. It nailed down the state of the art and the challenges for future research.

The early MPEG audio standards. MPEG 1 unveiled the MP3, followed by the improved MPEG2 AAC. They changed the face of not just audio encoding, but completely revolutionised music consumption and the music industry.

John Chowning was a pioneer and visionary in computer music. This seminal work described FM synthesis, where the timbre of a simple waveform is changed by frequency modulating it with another frequency also in the audio range, resulting in a surprisingly rich control of audio spectra and their evolution in time. In 1971, Chowning also published The simulation of moving sound sources (278 citations), perhaps the first system (and using digital technology) for synthesising an evolving sound scene.

The famous Glasberg and Moore loudness model is perhaps the most widely used auditory model for loudness and masking estimation. Other aspects of it have appeared in other papers (including A model of loudness applicable to time-varying sounds, 487 citations, 2002).

More greatest papers in the next blog entry.