‘Wall of sound’ at Fraunhofer IDMT

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Fraunhofer IDMT in Ilmenau, Germany, already well-known for their ambitious researching of spatial audio principles, once again have set a landmark in this field of research.

They have installed a so-called “Speaker wall”, a two-dimensional array of speakers. Up to 640 speakers can be used as ‘bricks’ to build the wall in any combination.

Well, I was one of the minds, that have designed and realized this ‘wall of sound’. Together with Hermann ‘Polo’ Scheck, Karl Preidl of Scheck Audio GmbH and Christoph Sladeczek of Fraunhofer IDMT this beast of a project was put into operation.

 

The backbone of the system is twinLANe, my Ethernet Layer-2 audio network, carrying 128 audio channels in a single network link (red cables in the pictures). The central network control unit receives 10 MADI streams and distributes audio and control information to multiple amp units across the network.

The amp units are small and light enough to be installed directly in the back of the speaker wall to avoid long speaker cable run. 16 audio channels are provided per network amp. Each channel is controlled via network including level and filtering. Audio play out is phase coherent, the wiring of the network is designed to be redundant (loop topology). One of any network link may be broken or removed at any time without any notable glitch in audio operation. Up to 8 amp units can be connected in a daisy-chain.

Also worth mentioning is the fact, that even the speakers themselves are connected via short CAT5 cables. This allows a quick and reliable setting of the amp-to-speaker link and is very cost-effective.

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