S3A: Future Spatial Audio for an Immersive Listener Experience at Home

S3A is a major five-year UK research collaboration between internationally leading experts in 3D audio and visual processing, the BBC and UK industry. Its goal is to enable listeners to experience the sense of "being there" at a live event, such as a concert or football match, from the comfort of their living room through delivery of immersive 3D sound to the home.

EPSRC Grant Ref: EP/L000539/1

Start date: 2013
End date: 2019

Further information about the project and its partners can be found at s3a-spatialaudio.org

The IoSR researchers contributing to this project are:

Research Fellow: Dr Jon Francombe
Principal Supervisor: Dr Tim Brookes
Co-Supervisor: Dr Russell Mason

Download resources

The S3A multi-channel reproduction system comparison dataset is a set of six 20-second audio excerpts, each in seven different spatial formats. The files are available to download (free for non-commercial research use only).

By downloading the files, you agree that you will only use the downloaded material for non-commercial and research purposes. If you use the stimuli in any work that is published, please include a reference to the following paper: J. Francombe, T. Brookes, R. Mason, R. Flindt, P. Coleman, Q. Liu, and P.J.B. Jackson, "Production and reproduction of programme material for a variety of spatial audio formats", in Proc. Audio Engineering Society 138th Convention, Warsaw, 7-10 May 2015. We'd also be interested to hear from you if you do download and use the files.

* * * Download link coming soon * *
The files will shortly be available to download from http://cvssp.org/S3A. In the meantime, please e-mail us to register your interest, and we'll send you the download link when it becomes available.

Project Outline

Recording engineers have often sought to reproduce the spatial properties of sound fields, and this has led to the development of a range of technologies. Two-channel stereo has been common for some time, but systems with a higher channel count (including rear and height loudspeakers) are also in use and, recently, there has been a move towards loudspeaker-agnostic methods using audio objects. Perceptual evaluation, and perceptually-informed objective measurement, of alternative reproduction systems can inform further development and steer future innovations.

The aims of this part of the S3A project are to: (i) ascertain which attributes of reproduced spatial audio are most important to listeners; (ii) identify any important attributes missing from previous studies; (iii) determine the relationships between the important attributes and listener preference; (iv) model overall spatial quality in terms of the important perceptual attributes; and (v) model these perceptual attributes in terms of their physical correlates.

An experiment has already been conducted in which live performances were captured and simultaneously replayed over a nine-channel with-height surround sound system. Experienced and inexperienced listeners moved freely between the live performance and the reproduction and described the difference in listening experience. In subsequent group discussions, the experienced listeners produced twenty-nine descriptor categories, using some terms that are not commonly found in the current spatial audio literature. The inexperienced listeners produced five categories that overlapped with the experienced group terms but that were not as detailed.

More recent work has focused on establishing key perceived differences between alternative reproduction systems. The next step is to perceptually model the most important of these.