Room Modal Equalisation with Electroacoustic Absorbers

The sound quality in a room is of fundamental importance for both recording and reproducing processes. Because of the room modes, the distributions in space and frequency of the sound field are largely altered. Excessive rise and decay times caused by the resonances might even mask some details at higher frequencies, and these irregularities may be heard as a coloration of the sound. To address this problem, passive absorbers are bulky and too inefficient to significantly improve the listening conditions. On the other hand, the active equalization methods may be complicated and costly, and the sound field might not be well controlled, because of the added sound energy in the room. Another approach is the active absorption, which consists in varying the impedance of a part of the enclosure boundaries, so as to balance the sound field thanks to the absorbed sound power into the active boundary elements. The thesis deals with the design and optimization of electroacoustic absorbers intended to specifically reduce the effect of the unwanted room modes. These active absorbers are closed box electrodynamic loudspeaker systems, whose acoustic impedance at the diaphragms is judiciously adjusted with passive or active components to maximize their absorption performance in the domain in which it is located. Several topologies merging sensor- and shunt-based methods are proposed resulting in an efficient and broadband sound absorption at low frequencies. A multiple degree-of-freedom target impedance that is assigned at the transducer diaphragms is then optimized to lower the modal decay times at best. The performance of the electroacoustic absorbers for the modal equalization is investigated in actual listening rooms, and their audible effect is subjectively evaluated. The overall combination of concepts and developments proposed in this thesis paves the way towards new active absorbers that may improve the listening experience at low frequencies in rooms.

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