B&O taps Genelec for new virtual reality lab

Bang & Olufsen has chosen Genelec SAM monitors to equip its new laboratory, which allows researchers at B&O’s Struer headquarters to create hyper-accurate simulations of how loudspeakers will sound in any given environment.

The loudspeaker sphere is based around a three-metre diameter frame, constructed within an anechoic chamber, and features a network of 35 Genelec 8320 monitors, five 8331 three way coaxial monitors from The Ones series, plus four 7050 subwoofers to create instantly recallable sound fields ranging in format from simple stereo and 5.1 up to 22.2.

At the heart of the research project is the understanding and analysis of reverberation – what it is, how sound reacts with reflective surfaces, and how it can benefit – or detract from – the listener’s experience.

“We wanted to bring real life into the lab,” said Dr. Neo Kaplanis, a Tonmeister and lead scientist at B&O. “We knew that the same loudspeakers don’t sound the same in different rooms, we just didn’t know what was different. So the idea of this project was to investigate and record the acoustics inside various spaces so that they could be easily simulated in a controlled environment.”

Kaplanis developed a new type of recording that captures the unique acoustic fingerprint of a space, and then designed a computer program that plays back sounds from those precise locations in the sphere.

The integration of SAM monitors with Genelec’s own GLM software was central to the project, according to Kaplanis’ adviser, Søren Bech, B&O director of research and professor at Aalborg University: “It’s super convenient because you can update filters, select and mute individual speakers, group them, and control the volume of all of them at the same time. It’s easy to try different set-ups at the click of a button.

Genelec’s senior technologist Thomas Lund added: “With two world-class sphere facilities now within short driving distance of each other – the other one being at the University of Aalborg – Denmark has really geared up for new research and verification of results within the booming field of immersive audio. Binaural and in-room research both benefit from the point source radiation of The Ones series and GLM calibration, thereby limiting potential confounders.”