With more than 100 people working on a diverse research portfolio, the Fraunhofer IDMT develops solutions to the industry’s most exacting requirements and expectations. Maintsining the highest possible standards during its specialised work, Fraunhofer IDMT has adopted Powersoft Ottocanali 4k4 DSP+D amplifier platforms, also strengthening its long-standing relationship with the manufacturer.

René Rodigast‘We have a long story with Powersoft, and have developed a good understanding of the company’s systems over the years,’ says Acoustics Department Business Manager, René Rodigast. ‘Back when we installed our first Powersoft amplifiers here, we had direct contact to the guys in Italy as well as German distributor, Laauser & Vohl GmbH. Normally we know very well what gear we want and in this most recent case the choice was easy. We ordered the amps without delay and received great support throughout.’

A total of 29 Ottocanali 4k4 DSP+D amplifier platforms were required to meet the institute’s grand aspirations, with 16 installed in the building’s 3D Presentation Room.

‘This room is one of our biggest experimental rooms,’ Rodigast says. ‘The goal when we created it was to have an efficient and flexible set-up. It is equipped with 117 loudspeakers and is able to accommodate a small number of subwoofers as well. All of the speakers can switch to different set-ups. One of our standard configurations is a stage of below-stage subs and some front fill, and a system enclosing the “audience”. Thanks to the certified acoustics, we can simulate other systems as well, such as stage, cinema, planetarium, and even home set-ups.’

The model chosen to drive this complex set-up, the Ottocanali 4k4, is a flexible and reliable 8-channel power amplifier with up to a total of 4kW at 4Ω – well suited to multi-zone applications such as the Fraunhofer IDMT’s 3D presentation room. The unit features switchable main/aux signal inputs and offers a wide range of system control, alarms, GPI/O and monitoring functions as well as sound shaping options.

‘The amplifiers’ Dante capabilities make the system very flexible, which is ideal when using different speaker set-ups in the room,’ Rodigast explains. ‘It is also easy to use the Dante metrics – we often have projects with students who are not used to the system but it’s easy to explain to them how it works. Flexibility is so important as we have different hardware and software all the time. It’s good for us to have a reliable audio network where we can work quickly and easily switch channels.’

The systems at the institute are sometimes required to run 24/7, which meant that reliability was another key factor in their decision. To that end, the Ottocanali 4K4 implements redundant universal switch mode power supplies with PFC and patented SRM (Smart Rails Management) technology maximising reliability, efficiency and reducing power consumption. This in turn saves valuable energy; keeping both the operational cost and carbon footprint of Fraunhofer IDMT’s work at a minimum.

Fraunhofer

‘In our acoustics department we have a lot of research and sound possibilities,’ he continues. ‘Our biggest room, the 3D Presentation Room, is where we conduct R&D in relation to 3D sound systems. We also have a 3D sound studio, which is used for creating the 3D sound content and for presentation of technology.’

The studio itself houses more Powersoft amplifier platforms, as well as computers, digital/analogue converters and the playback system. ‘We go directly from the PC to the amps via Dante and from there we go direct to the loudspeakers in the 3D room,’ Rodigast says.

Aside from these rooms, there is also a full anechoic chamber at Fraunhofer IDMT’s HQ, which is one of the biggest in Germany at 10m x 9m x 8m. The room is capable of accommodating 60Hz and allows the team to conduct precise measurements in low frequencies, which is important for the improvement of sound reinforcement systems.

‘We also have a garage that contains a car equipped with a wave field synthesis sound system, and a room where we can do listening tests,’ Rodigast says. ‘All of these have certified room acoustics, which means they are independent of acoustical conditions.’

One of the principles explored in depth at Fraunhofer IDMT is Wave Field Synthesis (WFS). Through conducting numerous experiments, the institute came up with Spatial Sound Wave (SSW) technology - an object-based system for producing 3D sound.

‘Using SSW, audio objects can be positioned at will, providing a totally realistic compliance of what is seen and heard,’ Rodigast says. ‘We have a real-time rendering system wherein we create signals for the loudspeakers, which then come straight from the mixing desk. It integrates with our SSW interface very effectively.’

Recently an SSW 3D sound system was installed on TUI Cruises vessel, Mein Schiff 1, and in its multi-functional entertainment room. ‘We can provide the same service for other applications as well. The main strengths of SSW are that it allows you to solve acoustical problems while also providing exceptional audio quality. We don’t talk about the ‘sweet spot’ any more, as we can create an entire sweet area.’

Using SSW, audio content can be produced for reproduction by any audio system and loudspeaker set-up. Reprocessing and adaptation of scenes or effects is not required.

‘We can accommodate most applications on the pro audio market here at Fraunhofer IDMT. We are currently doing things in the video side of the market as well, combining 3D sound with VR and headphone applications. We also have aspirations of working outside pro audio in areas such as industry and maybe medical technology.’

More: www.powersoft-audio.com

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