Sennheiser, VRSonic Complete Navy Simulator

It will be used for training simulations and software testing for on-location communication solutions.
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Audio specialist Sennheiser and Arlington, Va.-based VRSonic have completed the installation of one of the most sophisticated simulation training environments in the world, for the Naval Research Laboratory. It will be used for training simulations and software testing for on-location communication solutions by the U.S. Navy.

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The Naval Research Laboratory's multi-sensory environment features 48 K+H M52s mounted on eight specially-designed stands.

The multi-sensory environment is among the most advanced 3D audio systems in the world, and supports any surround sound format as well as higher order rendering.

The audio system features 48 K+H M52s on eight stands, surrounding the listener in 360 degrees of sounding. To accommodate the complex array of speakers, which included 48 discrete audio channels, VRSonic created a special speaker stand it calls "Acousticurve." This helps the speakers be placed in a spherical manner, completely surrounding the listener.

The new installation, which began last fall and was funded by the Office of Naval Research, consists of a control room featuring sophisticated software for creating the environment, and the 360-degree listening area. In addition to training military personnel in simulated, multi-sensory environments--such as in a cave or on a ship's bridge, for instance--the new installation will also assist the Navy in reducing console manning at its control centers, which are in use all over the world. Additionally, it will be used to help increase the situational awareness for the blind as well as furthering research in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The spatial audio is generated using VRSonic's VibeStudio Designer software.

"We have been using Sennheiser's K+H monitors without exception for many years," said Hesham Fouad, CEO of VRSonic. "Nothing matched the K+H M52s, which are powered and carry a small footprint, are extremely easy to mount and in my opinion, deliver the highest fidelity of any speaker on the market.

"Our client, the U.S. Navy, is very savvy when it comes to audio--they do research in psychoacoustics," he continued. "They insist on the highest quality solutions available and in this case, Sennheiser played a pivotal role in helping create most advanced 3D simulation environment in the world."

VRSonic has been developing high-end systems for government agencies, educational laboratories and military training applications for over a decade. These systems include hardware and software for 3D sound effects as well as high-end immersive simulation. Its research work with the Office of Naval Research began in 1993, when the Naval Research Laboratory wanted to use 3D audio as a more integral component of its testing capabilities.

The M52 is the reference monitor of choice for many installation, live sound and studio applications. Where space is at a premium, the M52 offers the distinct advantage of being extremely compact. Yet it offers a flat frequency response, making it ideal as either a control monitor in live broadcast or as a mix monitor in the smaller recording studio. As a multimedia monitor, the versatile M52 is ideal for both permanent and mobile applications. The speaker chassis is magnetically shielded so that placement next to video monitors or magnetic media will pose no problem.

In 2010, the K+H product line will transition into the Sennheiser and Neumann product portfolio. Sennheiser will continue to offer installed sound solutions, while Neumann will take over professional studio monitoring systems.