The Sonic Chandelier at the Casa del Suono

The 'Lampadario Acustico' as installed at the Casa del Suono in Parma, Italy.

The CdS is a museum of the history of sound reproduction, an initiative of the city of Parma. It is housed in the beautifully restored Chiesa Santa Elisabetta, which was almost in ruins just two years ago.

The chandelier consists of 228 speakers focussing sounds in the area below the installation, and giving the listeners the impression that the sound is coming from invisible sources moving just above and around their heads. Synthesis of the 64 channels is done in real time on a Linux based computer driving 64 amplifiers via an RME MADI interface. The movement of the virtual sound sources is controlled by automation tracks in Ardour, which send OSC commands to the beamforming software. The installation is part of the museum exhibits and plays an original composition specially made for it by Martino Traversa.

The system was designed and built by Paolo Martignon (system design, simulations), Daniele Torelli (software), Paolo Galaverna and Stefano Cantadori (design, construction supervision) and Fons Adriaensen (system design, software, simulations).

A look from below, showing the 228 speakers.

One of the simulation results, showing beamforming at 1.25 khz. The shape of the speaker dome is visible in the upper right corner.

Floor plan of the Casa del Suono. At the right is the main hall with the acoustic chandelier. The space at the left will be used for two listening rooms. The small one will have 3rd order full periphonic Ambisionic system and a triple Stereo Dipole. The larger one will have a 176-channel Wave Field Synthesis system. Both rooms are planned to be ready at the end of 2007, and will be used for psycho-acoustic research as well as for demonstrations.

A picture taken during testing of the chandelier. Restoration work was still going on.