Associate Producer Derek John joined Studio 360 in 2004 and is currently the show's News Editor. The Kansas native first caught the radio bug from a local doo-wop deejay who called himself "the daddio of ...
Adventures in 3D Sound: Edgar Choueiri's Home Lab
Wednesday, April 27, 2011 - 06:00 AM
Edgar Choueiri may appear to be just your average audiophile: he's got a soft-spot for old analog recording equipment and collects early stereophonic test records. He also happens to be a NASA-sponsored rocket scientist poised to revolutionize entertainment as we know it.
Choueiri is a longtime professor of applied physics and aerospace engineering, but since 2003 he has been moonlighting as an audio engineer, obsessed with 3D sound. Drawing on years of plasma propulsion research (which may help put a man on Mars thanks to an ultra-efficient rocket engine), he devised an algorithm that restores the original spatial sound cues to stereo recordings. In other words, Choueiri has figured out how to reproduce realistic 3D sound from just two speakers using a method called "crosstalk cancellation."
Geometry of the two-source free-field model.
From “Optimal Crosstalk Cancellation for Binaural Audio with Two Loudspeakers” by Edgar Choueiri
On this week's show, Kurt Andersen visits Choueiri at his 3D Audio lab in Princeton. But just as important to the professor's work is his home, built by Charles Steadman in 1834. He owns some 8,000 recordings, including at least a thousand 15-inch reel-to-reel tapes from the dawn of stereophonic sound. Choueiri does his listening surrounded by wood-paneled walls, gazing out through a single window to a heavily populated bird feeder. "It actually sounds more like a little chapel than a good listening room," he says with a chuckle.
Choueiri has high hopes for the future of 3D audio — he envisions it being adopted by the film industry first, much like stereo was in its infancy. But he says he did not develop the technology to get rich. As he explains in the video below, he really just wanted to hear one of his favorite pieces of music as purely and perfectly as possible.
We'll have more Adventures in 3D Sound! on this week's episode of the show.
Video: Edgar Choueiri considers Bach in 3D