1. Three-dimensional (3D) recording and reproduction

When a recording engineer choose a specific microphone technique to record (and reproduce) a specific music, what perceptual and physical factors would influence on their final choice. In his Ph.D. study, Sungyoung Kim narrowed this question down to solo concert piano music in the context of surround (ITU-R BS. 775) reproduction. While many contextual factors may impact perceived quality of the reproduced piano sound field, the study revealed that people showed a consensus to prefer a surround microphone technique that gives (1) spatially extended, (2) timbrally bright, and (3) tight bass piano sound field. Aligned with other study results, the finding provided supporting knowledge how to select a specific microphone technique for a classical music instrument that interacts with a concert hall acoustics and produces broad spectrum, spaciousness; and dynamic range.

Using this knowledge on immersive sound rendering know-hows, Dr. Kim collaborated with a composer to compose a new music experimenting 3D sound of a string quartet. Please check the details of this work and related concert information in these two posts:

Combined with other side projects, the research is being directed to the question of “listener classification,” namely, searching for a method to extract common features of a trained listener. Many listening tests and subjective evaluations can be much faster and reliable when done with a smaller set of trained listeners. Eventually, the lab wants to find a way to train naive listeners and evaluate their “readiness” to serve as a listening panel.

Introduction of EAR-TRAINING GAME

2. Virtual Auditory Environment Rendering and Access

Within Yamaha Corporation’s Spatial Acoustics team, Sungyoung Kim conducted research and development projects on new spatial audio rendering technologies, resulting in two international patents (Kim, U.S. Patent, 2012; Kim, U.S. Patent, 2016). I also researched an accessible solution to reconstruct the auditory environment of a renowned Renaissance church (Watanabe et al., ICA, 2013), so that professional musicians can virtually perform within the church’s unique acoustic space (figure below). In addition, I organized a special session of ‘Virtual Concert Hall Acoustics’ at the ICA 2013 and hosted a corresponding music concert, ‘Virtual Salon’ with two eminent Canadian musicians, Matt Haimovitz (cello) and Tom Beghin (fortepiano).

A brass ensemble concert with the simulated acoustics of Basilica di San Marco (Venice, Italy) at Tokyo, Japan (2012). Right: ICA 2013 special concert of cello and pianoforte with the recreated acoustics of the “Eroica hall” of the Lobkowitz palace, Vienna (Austria) at Montreal, Canada (2013).

These research innovations in spatial recording and rendering led me to direct a current transdisciplinary project supported by the National Endowments for the Humanities (PI, NEH, Award No. PR-263931-19, $347,702). The project’s main goal is aural heritage preservation (see the linked YouTube below below for more information), a form of cultural heritage conservation that documents and recreates auditory experiences of culturally important places, enabling virtual interactions. The lab seeks for young brains to expand the current aural heritage project towards wide applications with more intuitive and interactive auditory AR technologies.

Aural-heritage project led by Dr. Sungyoung Kim

3. Cultural-Background Effects on Spatial Hearing

Sungyoung Kim and colleagues investigated whether a researcher could ensure that a rendered auditory environment provides common perceptions for two distinct listener groups who have different linguistic and cultural backgrounds (Kim et al., AES, 2007). We continued to explore this area of research through controlled experimentation on cultural differences in conceptualizing auditory environments and associated cognition. Subsequently, we conducted another cross-cultural comparison of listeners in a virtual auditory environment, published in the peer-reviewed journal Virtual Reality (Kim et al., 2015). The study demonstrated a culturally specific preference for certain characteristics of the auditory environment, indicating that there are culturally correlated contextual factors in spatial cognition of a specific auditory environment, which are confirmed through subsequent studies (Kim, 3D-Audio (Book), 2021 & Kim and Howie, JAES, 2021).