The core of the Audio Animation system is our Digital Object-oriented Mix Engine (DOME). This embodies a totally new concept in mixing, dispensing with the traditional paradigm of channels and tracks to focus on audio objects which are animated within a soundfield.
The DOME server is configured to accept as many sound objects as its host hardware will support and these objects can be pretty much any sample rate, bit depth and channel count (i.e. mono, stereo, 5.1, B-format etc).
The DOME server has, at its core, a 3D mix bus, implemented using high order Ambisonics (HOA). This is an internal format which allows mixes to be created in full 3D irrespective of the chosen output format. The objects are rendered into the mix according to instructions specified using Audio Director, a spatial audio description language that we are developing specifically for this purpose.
The key feature of the DOME server is that it is Format Agnostic. That is to say that the HOA mix bus is internal and the master section contains a plug in decoder that will convert that to what ever format is required.
A DOME server is used in a studio environment for creating a mix in the first place. Local monitoring needs to support full 3D which can be done with a physical loudspeaker array or can be achieved by using the Smyth Research Realiser system set up with a virtualised 3D array through headphones. This can also be done in parallel with a more conventional stereo and/or surround monitoring system
The output decoder in the DOME server will, master to Stereo, 5.1, 7.1 or any other accepted format with the same mix being deliverable in component form (source objects and Audio Director mix file) and/or composite form (the HOA mix) for subsequent rendering in a specific setting such as a live auditorium with the on-site DOME mastering output decoder being configured for that specific speaker array and physical space.
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In our prototype system, a MacOS platform is being used supporting Dante and Ravenna audio networking over standard ethernet as well as FireWire and USB to any number of audio input and output devices . This enables the user to take live feeds into the system as well as audio being played out from within the processing platform. DOME will support simultaneous live inputs together with the output of any host audio software as discrete audio objects that can then be mixed to the selected 3D output scenario.
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The first commercial release of the DOME server technology will be as an OSX plugin from Sonalksis. Sitting between any audio source within the Mac and any CoreAudio sound drivers, it provides 3D mixing and output to a number of formats including industry standrd surround formats as well as 3D cubic and dodecahedral Ambisonic arrays. This is due for release this summer.