3D audio capturing microphone array

ANU researchers have developed a novel, compact microphone array arrangement and custom DSP algorithms for enhanced 3D sound capture and delivery.


Capture and reproduction of 3D audio/sound is becoming increasingly important for various applications including communication, video presentations and games, virtual environments, entertainment systems and sound stages. Currently, binaural, hemispherical or spherical microphone arrays are used to capture 3D sound. Binaural arrays consist of dual microphones that are shaped and positioned like human ears. Hemispherical arrays typically involve 2-14 microphone capsules arranged in a tetrahedral pattern, whilst spherical arrays incorporate numerous (e.g. 24-32) pressure microphones which are mounted on the surface of a rigid spherical-shaped baffle. The spherical array geometry has several advantages over the other geometries, e.g. the polar pattern can be directed to any direction in the 3D space without changing the shape of the pattern, plus the spherical array allows full 3D control of the polar pattern and spatial-filtering (such as beamforming) in 3D soundfields. The downside, however, is that this geometry is bulky in nature, which makes this type of array non-portable and inconvenient for practical use. Spherical arrays are widely used for research and experimental purposes, but the size greatly limits the arrays' potential in commercial applications. ANU researchers are seeking to address this limitation by developing a microphone array with reduced dimensionality and size that will still offer the same functionality and benefits of the spherical microphone array.


Our researchers have designed a new microphone array which is significantly reduced in size (i.e. the array has a planar, 2D shape) as compared to conventional spherical 3D arrays which have similar functionality. This array configuration will enable easier integration into consumer electronics, broadening the use of 3D sound recording and analysis, in various audio as well as radio-frequency applications. Our researchers have also developed an accompanying software solution for the 2D microphone array which utilises advanced DSP algorithms, including sound source localisation, adaptive beamforming and noise reduction, to suppress background noise while enhancing the speech signal. This provides reliable, clear, crisp, audio delivery which existing USB/desktop microphone arrays cannot provide.


ANU is seeking engagement with prospective industry partners and/or licensees interested in establishing a collaboration for the future development of and/or bringing-to-market this microphone array. ANU is well-placed to work with partners to optimise the microphone array for their specific application and recording environments/requirements.