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Title:
PASSIVE AND ACTIVE VIRTUAL HEIGHT FILTER SYSTEMS FOR UPWARD FIRING DRIVERS
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2015/187715
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
Embodiments are directed to a virtual height filter for use with or in an upward-firing speaker system that reflects sound off a ceiling to a listening location at a distance from a speaker, and that provides height cues to reproduce audio objects that have overhead audio components. A virtual height filter based on a directional hearing model is applied to the upward-firing driver signal to improve the perception of height for audio signals transmitted by the virtual height speaker to provide optimum reproduction of the overhead reflected sound. The virtual height filter is provided by any one or combination of analog or digital filter circuits, or mechanical structures including speaker grill, enclosure, or driver design or configuration.

Inventors:
SMITHERS, Michael (Level 3, 35 Mitchell StreetMcMahons Poin, Sydney New South Wales 2060, 2060, AU)
CROCKETT, Brett G. (Inc.100 Potrero Avenu, San Francisco California, 94103, US)
SEEFELDT, Alan J. (Inc.100 Potrero Avenu, San Francisco California, 94103, US)
BROWN, C. Phillip (Inc.100 Potrero Avenu, San Francisco California, 94103, US)
Application Number:
US2015/033813
Publication Date:
December 10, 2015
Filing Date:
June 02, 2015
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
DOLBY LABORATORIES LICENSING CORPORATION (100 Potrero Avenue, San Francisco, California, 94103, US)
International Classes:
H04R1/26; H04R3/12; H04R3/14; H04R5/02; H04S7/00
Domestic Patent References:
WO2014036121A12014-03-06
Foreign References:
JP2010258653A2010-11-11
DE2941692A11981-04-30
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MACK, Kevin J. et al. (Dolby Laboratories, Inc.Intellectual Property Group,100 Potrero Avenu, San Francisco California, 94103, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

What is claimed is:

1. An apparatus comprising:

an interface to a speaker system having at least an upward-firing driver transmitting reflected sound waves relative to a direct-firing driver; and

a virtual height filter applying a frequency response curve to a signal transmitted to the upward-firing driver to create a target transfer curve that imparts a frequency response to the reflected sound waves that accentuates a perception of virtual height to a listener in the listening environment.

2. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the virtual height filter compensates for height cues present in sound waves transmitted directly through the listening environment in favor of height cues present in the reflected sound waves projected off a surface of the listening environment.

3. The apparatus of any of claims 1-2, wherein the virtual height filter comprises an active system including at least one of an analog filter circuit and a digital filter circuit, and wherein the digital filter circuit comprises a digital signal processing (DSP) circuit.

4. The apparatus of claim 3 further comprising a crossover having a low-pass section configured to transmit low frequency signals to a direct-firing driver and a high-pass section configured to transmit high frequency signals above to the upward-firing driver. 5. The apparatus of any of claims 1-4 further comprising a grill covering at least a portion a speaker driver having a cone producing the reflected sound waves, and affixed at a defined distance proximate the driver, the grill configured to impart a frequency response to the sound waves and that provides at least some of the functions of the virtual height filter. 6. The apparatus of claim 5 wherein the configuration of the grill designed to impart the frequency response includes at least one of: a shape and contour of the grill, a distance from the grill to the speaker driver, and a number, size, and pattern of perforations or mesh pattern of the grill.

7. The apparatus of any of claims 1-6 wherein the one or more components comprises a structural component of an enclosure enclosing the upward-firing driver and configured to impart a frequency response to the sound waves and that provides at least some of the functions of the virtual height filter.

8. The apparatus of claim 7 wherein the structural component comprises one of: a shape and size of the enclosure, interior baffling of the enclosure, interior resonance chambers of the enclosure.

9. The apparatus of any of claims 1-8 wherein the virtual height filtering function applied by the virtual height filter comprises a pinna filter response curve that compensates for height cues present in the sound waves transmitted directly through the listening environment in favor of height cues present in the reflected sound waves reflected off the surface of the listening environment.

10. The apparatus of claim 9 wherein the virtual height filter is configured to produce a peak response in the response curve, and another of the components is configured to produce a dip in the response curve.

11. The apparatus of claim 10 wherein the peak response is at approximately 7 kHz, and the dip is at approximately 12 kHz.

12. The apparatus of any of claims 9-10 further comprising a monotonic boost component to augment the response curve with a high frequency boost in order to achieve a flatter overall frequency response at a listening position within the listening environment.

13. The apparatus of claim 12 wherein the monotonic boost component is configured to provide a high frequency boost into a target frequency response of a reference- axis measurement of the upward firing driver to compensate for attenuation of high frequencies due to differential directional radiation and reflection off of the surface.

14. The apparatus of either of claim 12 or claim 13 wherein the monotonic boost component is configured to provide 4dB per octave boost starting at 5kHz.

15. The virtual height filter of any of claims 1-14 further comprising one or more components configured to produce a broad frequency response curve generally defining the virtual height speaker, and another component is configured to correct for errors and conform the broad frequency response to a closer approximation of the virtual height filter.

16. A virtual height filter for use in a speaker system reflecting sound waves off a room ceiling to a listening position in the room, comprising:

an active virtual height filter circuit configured to generate at least part of a frequency response curve to a signal transmitted to an upward-firing driver to create a target transfer curve that compensates for height cues present in sound waves transmitted directly through the room in favor of height cues present in the sound reflected off the ceiling by at least partially removing directional cues from the speaker location and at least partially inserting directional cues from the reflection point; and

a passive virtual height filter system configured to generate at least part of the frequency response curve, and incorporated in a mechanical aspect of the upward-firing driver or an enclosure enclosing the upward-firing driver. 17. The virtual height filter of claim 16, wherein the active virtual height filter circuit comprises at least one of an analog filter circuit and a digital filter circuit, and wherein the digital

filter circuit comprises a digital signal processing (DSP) circuit. 18. The virtual height filter of claim 17 further comprising a crossover having a low-pass section configured to transmit low frequency signals to a direct-firing driver and a high-pass section configured to transmit high frequency signals above to the upward-firing driver.

19. The virtual height filter of any of claims 16-18 wherein the passive virtual height filter system comprises at least one of: a grill covering at least a portion a speaker driver having a cone producing the sound waves, and affixed at a defined distance proximate the driver, the grill configured to impart a frequency response to the sound waves and that provides at least some of the functions of the virtual height filter; and a structural component of the enclosure configured to impart a frequency response to the sound waves and that provides at least some of the functions of the virtual height filter.

20. The virtual height filter of claim 19 wherein the configuration of the grill designed to impart the frequency response includes at least one of: a shape and contour of the grill, a distance from the grill to the speaker driver, and a number, size, and pattern of perforations or mesh pattern of the grill.

21. The virtual height filter of claim 20 wherein the structural component comprises one of: a shape and size of the enclosure, interior baffling of the enclosure, interior resonance chambers of the enclosure.

22. The virtual height filter of any of claims 16-21 wherein the virtual height filtering function applied by the one or more components comprises a pinna filter response curve that compensates for height cues present in the sound waves transmitted directly through the listening environment in favor of height cues present in the sound reflected off the surface of the listening environment.

23. The virtual height filter of claim 22 wherein at least one of the one or more components is configured to produce a peak response of the virtual height filter, and another of the components is configured to produce a dip in the response of the virtual height filter.

24. The virtual height filter of claim 22 wherein at least one of the one or more components is configured to produce a broad frequency response curve generally defining the virtual height speaker, and another component is configured to correct for errors and conform the broad frequency response to a closer approximation of the virtual height filter.

25. A method for providing a virtual height filter transfer function to speaker system having an upward-firing driver reflecting sound off of a surface in a room, the method comprising:

providing an active virtual height filter circuit configured to generate at least part of a frequency response curve to a signal transmitted to an upward-firing driver to create a target transfer curve that compensates for height cues present in sound waves transmitted directly through the room in favor of height cues present in the sound reflected off the surface by at least partially removing directional cues from the speaker location and at least partially inserting directional cues from the reflection point; and

providing a passive virtual height filter system configured to generate at least part of the frequency response curve, and incorporated in a mechanical aspect of the upward-firing driver or an enclosure enclosing the upward-firing driver.

26. The method of claim 25 wherein the speaker system plays back audio content comprises object-based audio having height cues representing sound emanating from an apparent source located above a listener in a room encompassing the speaker.

27. The method of claim 25 wherein the active virtual height filter circuit comprises at least one of an analog filter circuit and a digital filter circuit, and wherein the digital filter circuit comprises a digital signal processing (DSP) circuit.

28. The method of any of claims 25-27 wherein the passive virtual height filter system comprises at least one of: a grill covering at least a portion a speaker driver having a cone producing the sound waves, and affixed at a defined distance proximate the driver, the grill configured to impart a frequency response to the sound waves and that provides at least some of the functions of the virtual height filter; and a structural component of the enclosure configured to impart a frequency response to the sound waves and that provides at least some of the functions of the virtual height filter.

29. The method of claim 28 wherein the configuration of the grill designed to impart the frequency response includes at least one of: a shape and contour of the grill, a distance from the grill to the speaker driver, and a number, size, and pattern of perforations or mesh pattern of the grill.

30. The method of claim 29 wherein the structural component comprises one of: a shape and size of the enclosure, interior baffling of the enclosure, interior resonance chambers of the enclosure.

31. The method of any of claims 25-30 wherein the virtual height filtering function applied by the one or more components comprises a pinna filter response curve that compensates for height cues present in the sound waves transmitted directly through the listening environment in favor of height cues present in the sound reflected off the surface of the listening environment. 32. The method of any of claims 25-31 further comprising providing a high frequency boost to augment the response curve in order to achieve a flatter overall frequency response at a listening position within the listening environment.

33. The method of claim 32 wherein the high frequency boost is provided in a target frequency response of a reference-axis measurement of the upward firing driver to compensate for attenuation of high frequencies due to differential directional radiation and reflection off of the surface.

34. The method of either of claim 32 or claim 33 wherein the high frequency boost provides 4dB per octave boost starting at 5kHz.

Description:
PASSIVE AND ACTIVE VIRTUAL HEIGHT FILTER

SYSTEMS FOR UPWARD FIRING DRIVERS

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] This application claims the benefit of priority to United States Provisional

Patent Application No. 62/007,354 filed 3 June 2014 and United States Provisional Patent Application No. 62/163,502 filed 19 May 2015, each of which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0002] One or more implementations relate generally to audio speakers, and more upward firing speakers and active height filter circuits and passive speaker grill configurations for providing virtual height filtering for upward firing speakers producing reflected signals.

BACKGROUND

[0003] The advent of digital cinema has created new standards for cinema sound, such as the incorporation of multiple channels of audio to allow for greater creativity for content creators and a more enveloping and realistic auditory experience for audiences. Model-based audio descriptions have been developed to extend beyond traditional speaker feeds and channel-based audio as a means for distributing spatial audio content and rendering in different playback configurations. The playback of sound in true three-dimensional (3D) or virtual 3D environments has become an area of increased research and development. The spatial presentation of sound utilizes audio objects, which are audio signals with associated parametric source descriptions of apparent source position (e.g., 3D coordinates), apparent source width, and other parameters. Object-based audio may be used for many multimedia applications, such as digital movies, video games, simulators, and is of particular importance in a home environment where the number of speakers and their placement is generally limited or constrained by the confines of a relatively small listening environment.

[0004] Various technologies have been developed to more accurately capture and reproduce the creator's artistic intent for a sound track in both full cinema environments and smaller scale home environments. A next generation spatial audio (also referred to as "adaptive audio") format, and embodied in the Dolby® Atmos® system, has been developed that comprises a mix of audio objects and traditional channel-based speaker feeds along with positional metadata for the audio objects. In a spatial audio decoder, the channels are sent directly to their associated speakers or down-mixed to an existing speaker set, and audio objects are rendered by the decoder in a flexible manner. The parametric source description associated with each object, such as a positional trajectory in 3D space, is taken as an input along with the number and position of speakers connected to the decoder. The renderer utilizes certain algorithms to distribute the audio associated with each object across the attached set of speakers. The authored spatial intent of each object is thus optimally presented over the specific speaker configuration that is present in the listening environment.

[0005] Current spatial audio systems provide unprecedented levels of audience immersion and the highest precision of audio location and motion. However, since they have generally been developed for cinema use, they involve deployment in large rooms and the use of relatively expensive equipment, including arrays of multiple speakers distributed around a theater. An increasing amount of advanced audio content, however, is being made available for playback in the home environment through streaming technology and advanced media technology, such as Blu-ray disks, and so on. For optimal playback of spatial audio (e.g., Dolby Atmos) content, the home listening environment should include speakers that can replicate audio meant to originate above the listener in three-dimensional space. To achieve this, consumers can mount additional speakers on the ceiling in recommended positions above the traditional two-dimensional surround system, and some home theater enthusiasts are likely to embrace this approach. For many consumers, however, such height speakers may not be affordable or may pose installation difficulties. In this case, the height information is lost if overhead sound objects are played only through floor or wall-mounted speakers.

[0006] To facilitate the playback of adaptive audio content in home environments, efforts have been made to replace height or ceiling speakers with speakers oriented upwards to reflect sound off a surface (typically the ceiling) such that sounds intended to originate from the height location do so through reflections bounced off of the ceiling. To provide accurate sound rendering, such speaker systems must provide some sort of filtering to compensate for the direct and reflected sound components played through the same speaker. Current solutions provide circuits that electrically or digitally filter the signal transmitted to the speaker, where the filter compensates for height cues in sound waves which travel directly through the listening environment to the listener in favor of height cues present in the sound reflected off the surface. Such as filter may be referred to generally as a "pinna filter." A practical electrical implementation of the pinna filter typically requires a significant number of electrical components, such as capacitors, inductors and resistors. Depending on filter and speaker design, the cost of these components can be more than the cost of the loudspeaker driver itself. Moreover, a digital filter implementation of the pinna filter is not always feasible and depends on the capabilities of the rendering system or home theatre system. Other solutions that have been developed include modifying the speaker driver itself to have a frequency response that is close to the desired pinna filter response

[0007] What is needed, therefore, is a speaker design that enables floor- standing and bookshelf speakers to replicate audio as if the sound source originated from the ceiling. What is further needed is a home-audio speaker system that provides fully encompassing three- dimensional audio without expensive installations or alteration of existing consumer home theater footprints.

[0008] What is further needed is a home- audio speaker system that provides appropriate pinna filter response for upward firing speakers using simple speaker components.

[0009] The subject matter discussed in the background section should not be assumed to be prior art merely as a result of its mention in the background section. Similarly, a problem mentioned in the background section or associated with the subject matter of the background section should not be assumed to have been previously recognized in the prior art. The subject matter in the background section merely represents different approaches, which in and of themselves may also be inventions. Dolby and Atmos are registered trademarks of Dolby Laboratories Licensing Corporation.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF EMBODIMENTS

[0010] Embodiments are described for a speaker system for transmitting sound waves to be reflected off a surface of a listening environment, comprising an upward-firing driver and oriented at a defined inclination angle relative to the horizontal axis along which a direct- firing driver transmits sound through the listening environment, an enclosure enclosing the upward- firing driver, and one or more components configured to impart a frequency response to the sound waves that accentuates a perception of virtual height to a listener in the listening environment. The one or more components comprising a virtual height filter circuit applying a frequency response curve to a signal transmitted to the upward- firing driver to create a target transfer curve. The virtual height filter compensates for height cues present in sound waves transmitted directly through the listening environment in favor of height cues present in the sound reflected off the surface of the listening environment. The virtual height filter may comprise an active system including at least one of an analog filter circuit and a digital filter circuit, and the digital filter circuit may comprise a digital signal processing (DSP) circuit. The speaker system may also include a crossover having a low-pass section configured to transmit low frequency signals to a direct-firing driver and a high-pass section configured to transmit high frequency signals above to the upward-firing driver. The speaker system may further comprise a grill covering at least a portion a speaker driver having a cone producing the sound waves, and affixed at a defined distance proximate the driver, the grill configured to impart a frequency response to the sound waves and that provides at least some of the functions of the virtual height filter. The configuration of the grill is designed to impart the frequency response and includes at least one of: a shape and contour of the grill, a distance from the grill to the speaker driver, and a number, size, and pattern of perforations or mesh pattern of the grill. The one or more components may also comprise a structural component of the enclosure configured to impart a frequency response to the sound waves and that provides at least some of the functions of the virtual height filter. The structural component comprises one of: a shape and size of the enclosure, interior baffling of the enclosure, interior resonance chambers of the enclosure. In an embodiment, the virtual height filtering function applied by the one or more components comprises a pinna filter response curve that compensates for height cues present in the sound waves transmitted directly through the listening environment in favor of height cues present in the sound reflected off the surface of the listening environment. At least one of the one or more components may be configured to produce a peak response of the virtual height filter, and another of the components may be configured to produce a dip in the response of the virtual height filter; alternatively, at least one of the one or more components may be configured to produce a broad frequency response curve generally defining the virtual height speaker, and another component may be configured to correct for errors and conform the broad frequency response to a closer approximation of the virtual height filter.

[0011] Embodiments are also directed to a virtual height filter for use in a speaker system reflecting sound waves off a room ceiling to a listening position in the room, comprising an active virtual height filter circuit configured to generate at least part of a frequency response curve to a signal transmitted to an upward-firing driver to create a target transfer curve that compensates for height cues present in sound waves transmitted directly through the room in favor of height cues present in the sound reflected off the ceiling by at least partially removing directional cues from the speaker location and at least partially inserting directional cues from the reflection point, and a passive virtual height filter system configured to generate at least part of the frequency response curve, and incorporated in a mechanical aspect of the upward-firing driver or an enclosure enclosing the upward-firing driver. The active virtual height filter circuit comprises at least one of an analog filter circuit and a digital filter circuit. The passive virtual height filter system comprises at least one of: a grill covering at least a portion a speaker driver having a cone producing the sound waves, and affixed at a defined distance proximate the driver, the grill configured to impart a frequency response to the sound waves and that provides at least some of the functions of the virtual height filter; and a structural component of the enclosure configured to impart a frequency response to the sound waves and that provides at least some of the functions of the virtual height filter. The configuration of the grill designed to impart the frequency response includes at least one of: a shape and contour of the grill, a distance from the grill to the speaker driver, and a number, size, and pattern of perforations or mesh pattern of the grill. The structural component comprises one of: a shape and size of the enclosure, interior baffling of the enclosure, interior resonance chambers of the enclosure. The virtual height filtering function applied by the one or more components comprises a pinna filter response curve that compensates for height cues present in the sound waves transmitted directly through the listening environment in favor of height cues present in the sound reflected off the surface of the listening environment.

[0012] Embodiments are yet further directed to methods of making and using or deploying the speakers, transducers, grills and other component designs that optimize the rendering and playback of reflected sound content using a frequency transfer function that filters direct sound components from height sound components in an audio playback system

INCORPORATION BY REFERENCE

[0013] Each publication, patent, and/or patent application mentioned in this specification is herein incorporated by reference in its entirety to the same extent as if each individual publication and/or patent application was specifically and individually indicated to be incorporated by reference.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0014] In the following drawings like reference numbers are used to refer to like elements. Although the following figures depict various examples, the one or more implementations are not limited to the examples depicted in the figures.

[0015] FIG. 1 illustrates the use of an upward-firing driver using reflected sound to simulate an overhead speaker in a listening environment.

[0016] FIG. 2 illustrates an integrated virtual height (upward-firing) driver and direct- firing driver, under an embodiment.

[0017] FIG. 3 illustrates the relative tilt angle of the upward-firing driver to the direct- firing driver, under an embodiment. [0018] FIG. 4 illustrates a connector terminal for upward-firing and direct-firing drivers, under an embodiment.

[0019] FIG. 5 is a graph that illustrates the magnitude response of a virtual height filter derived from a directional hearing model, under an embodiment.

[0020] FIG. 6 illustrates a virtual height filter incorporated as part of a speaker system having an upward-firing driver, under an embodiment.

[0021] FIG. 7A illustrates a height filter receiving positional information and a bypass signal, under an embodiment.

[0022] FIG. 7B is a diagram illustrating a virtual height filter system including crossover circuit, under an embodiment.

[0023] FIG. 8A is a high-level circuit diagram of a two-band crossover filter used in conjunction with a virtual height filter, under an embodiment.

[0024] FIG. 8B illustrates a two-band crossover that implements virtual height filtering in the high-pass filtering path, under an embodiment.

[0025] FIG. 8C illustrates a crossover that combines upward-firing and front-firing speaker crossover filter networks for use with different high-frequency drivers, under an embodiment.

[0026] FIG. 9 shows the frequency response of the two-band crossover of FIG. 8, under an embodiment.

[0027] FIG. 10 illustrates various different upward- firing and direct- firing driver configurations for use with a virtual height filter, under an embodiment.

[0028] FIG. 11 is a graph illustrating a target transfer function 1102 for an upward-firing speaker system, under an embodiment.

[0029] FIG. 12A illustrates the placement of microphones relative to an upward-firing speaker system to measure the relative frequency response of the upward- firing and direct- firing drivers, under an embodiment.

[0030] FIG. 12B illustrates a reference axis response and the direct response at the indicated measurement positions of FIG. 12A.

[0031] FIG. 13 is a block diagram of a virtual height rendering system that includes room correction and virtual height speaker detection capabilities, under an embodiment.

[0032] FIG. 14 is a graph that displays the effect of pre-emphasis filtering for calibration, under an embodiment.

[0033] FIG. 15 is a flow diagram illustrating a method of performing virtual height filtering in an adaptive audio system having upward-firing drivers, under an embodiment. [0034] FIG. 16A is a circuit diagram illustrating an analog virtual height filter circuit, under an embodiment.

[0035] FIG. 16B illustrates an example frequency response curve of the circuit of FIG. 16A in conjunction with a desired response curve.

[0036] FIG. 17A illustrates example coefficient values for a digital implementation of a virtual height filter, under an embodiment.

[0037] FIG. 17B illustrates an example frequency response curve of the filter of FIG. 17A along with a desired response curve.

[0038] FIG. 18 is a circuit diagram illustrating an analog crossover circuit that may be used with a virtual height filter circuit, under an embodiment.

[0039] FIG. 19 illustrates the function of virtual height filtering in an adaptive audio rendering system.

[0040] FIG. 20 illustrates an upward firing driver including a virtual height filtering function, under an embodiment.

[0041] FIG. 21 is a cross section of the upward- firing speaker of FIG. 7 having a grill that provides at least some degree of virtual height filtering.

[0042] FIG. 22 is a graph illustrating a pinna filter response generated by a virtual height filter speaker grill for use in an upward-firing speaker system, under an embodiment.

[0043] FIG. 23 illustrates a cross section of a speaker driver in a baffle and with a grill very close to the loudspeaker cone, under an embodiment.

[0044] FIG. 24 illustrates a perspective view of a virtual height filter grill, under an embodiment.

[0045] FIG. 25 is a graph that illustrates an example of the effect of the cross section of a driver cone and the grill of FIG. 24, under an embodiment.

[0046] FIG. 26 is a block diagram that illustrates the components of an adaptive audio system that comprises a number of combined components that together produce a desired virtual height filtering effect.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0047] Embodiments are described for audio speakers and transducer systems that include upward firing drivers to render adaptive audio content intended to provide an immersive audio experience. Embodiments are also described for audio speakers that include upward firing drivers with specially designed speaker grills that incorporate pinna filter functionality to render adaptive audio content intended to provide an immersive audio experience. The speakers may include or be used in conjunction with an adaptive audio system having virtual height filter circuits for rendering object based audio content using reflected sound to reproduce overhead sound objects and provide virtual height cues. Aspects of the one or more embodiments described herein may be implemented in an audio or audiovisual (AV) system that processes source audio information in a mixing, rendering and playback system that includes one or more computers or processing devices executing software instructions. Any of the described embodiments may be used alone or together with one another in any combination. Although various embodiments may have been motivated by various deficiencies with the prior art, which may be discussed or alluded to in one or more places in the specification, the embodiments do not necessarily address any of these deficiencies. In other words, different embodiments may address different deficiencies that may be discussed in the specification. Some embodiments may only partially address some deficiencies or just one deficiency that may be discussed in the specification, and some embodiments may not address any of these deficiencies.

[0048] For purposes of the present description, the following terms have the associated meanings: the term "channel" means an audio signal plus metadata in which the position is coded as a channel identifier, e.g., left-front or right-top surround; "channel-based audio" is audio formatted for playback through a pre-defined set of speaker zones with associated nominal locations, e.g., 5.1, 7.1, and so on; the term "object" or "object-based audio" means one or more audio channels with a parametric source description, such as apparent source position (e.g., 3D coordinates), apparent source width, etc.; and "adaptive audio" means channel-based and/or object-based audio signals plus metadata that renders the audio signals based on the playback environment using an audio stream plus metadata in which the position is coded as a 3D position in space; and "listening environment" means any open, partially enclosed, or fully enclosed area, such as a room that can be used for playback of audio content alone or with video or other content, and can be embodied in a home, cinema, theater, auditorium, studio, game console, and the like. Such an area may have one or more surfaces disposed therein, such as walls or baffles that can directly or diffusely reflect sound waves.

[0049] Embodiments are directed to a reflected sound rendering system that is configured to work with a sound format and processing system that may be referred to as a "spatial audio system" or "adaptive audio system" that is based on an audio format and rendering technology to allow enhanced audience immersion, greater artistic control, and system flexibility and scalability. An overall adaptive audio system generally comprises an audio encoding, distribution, and decoding system configured to generate one or more bitstreams containing both conventional channel-based audio elements and audio object coding elements. Such a combined approach provides greater coding efficiency and rendering flexibility compared to either channel-based or object-based approaches taken separately. An example of an adaptive audio system that may be used in conjunction with present embodiments is embodied in the commercially-available Dolby Atmos system.

[0050] In general, audio objects can be considered as groups of sound elements that may be perceived to emanate from a particular physical location or locations in the listening environment. Such objects can be static (stationary) or dynamic (moving). Audio objects are controlled by metadata that defines the position of the sound at a given point in time, along with other functions. When objects are played back, they are rendered according to the positional metadata using the speakers that are present, rather than necessarily being output to a predefined physical channel. In an embodiment, the audio objects that have spatial aspects including height cues may be referred to as "diffused audio." Such diffused audio may include generalized height audio such as ambient overhead sound (e.g., wind, rustling leaves, etc.) or it may have specific or trajectory-based overhead sounds (e.g., birds, lightning, etc.).

[0051] Dolby Atmos is an example of a system that incorporates a height (up/down) dimension that may be implemented as a 9.1 surround system, or similar surround sound configuration (e.g., 11.1, 13.1, 19.4, etc.). A 9.1 surround system may comprise composed five speakers in the floor plane and four speakers in the height plane. In general, these speakers may be used to produce sound that is designed to emanate from any position more or less accurately within the listening environment. In a typical commercial or professional implementation speakers in the height plane are usually provided as ceiling mounted speakers or speakers mounted high on a wall above the audience, such as often seen in a cinema. These speakers provide height cues for signals that are intended to be heard above the listener by directly transmitting sound waves down to the audience from overhead locations.

Upward Firing Speaker System

[0052] In many cases, such as typical home environments, ceiling mounted overhead speakers are not available or practical to install. In this case, the height dimension must be provided by floor or low wall mounted speakers. In an embodiment, the height dimension is provided by a speaker system having upward-firing drivers that simulate height speakers by reflecting sound off of the ceiling. In an adaptive audio system, certain virtualization techniques are implemented by the renderer to reproduce overhead audio content through these upward-firing drivers, and the drivers use the specific information regarding which audio objects should be rendered above the standard horizontal plane to direct the audio signals accordingly. [0053] For purposes of description, the term "driver" means a single electroacoustic transducer (or tight array of transducers) that produces sound in response to an electrical audio input signal. A driver may be implemented in any appropriate type, geometry and size, and may include horns, cones, ribbon transducers, and the like. The term "speaker" means one or more drivers in a unitary enclosure, and the terms "enclosure," "cabinet" or "housing" mean the unitary enclosure that encloses one or more drivers. Thus, an upward-firing speaker or speaker system comprises a speaker cabinet (enclosure) that includes at least upward-firing driver and one or more other direct-firing drivers (e.g., tweeter plus main or woofer), and other associated circuitry (e.g., crossovers, filters, etc.). The direct-firing driver (or front- firing driver) refers to the driver that transmits sound along the main axis of the speaker, typically horizontally out the front face of the speaker.

[0054] FIG. 1 illustrates the use of an upward-firing driver using reflected sound to simulate one or more overhead speakers. Diagram 100 illustrates an example in which a listening position 106 is located at a particular place within a listening environment. The system does not include any height speakers for transmitting audio content containing height cues. Instead, the speaker cabinet or speaker array includes an upward-firing driver along with the front firing driver(s). The upward-firing driver is configured (with respect to location and inclination angle) to send its sound wave 108 up to a particular point 104 on the ceiling 102 where it reflected back down to the listening position 106. It is assumed that the ceiling is made of an appropriate material and composition to adequately reflect sound down into the listening environment. The relevant characteristics of the upward-firing driver (e.g., size, power, location, etc.) may be selected based on the ceiling composition, room size, and other relevant characteristics of the listening environment.

[0055] The embodiment of FIG. 1 illustrates a case in which the direct-firing driver or drivers are enclosed within a first cabinet 112, and the upward-firing driver is enclosed within a second separate cabinet 110. The upward-firing driver 110 for the virtual height speaker is generally placed on top of the direct-firing driver 112, but other orientations are also possible. It should be noted that any number of upward-firing drivers could be used in combination to create multiple simulated height speakers. Alternatively, a number of upward-firing drivers may be configured to transmit sound to substantially the same spot on the ceiling to achieve a certain sound intensity or effect.

[0056] FIG. 2 illustrates an embodiment in which the upward-firing driver(s) and direct- firing driver(s) are provided in the same enclosure. Such a speaker configuration may be referred to as an "integrated" upward/direct firing speaker system. As shown in FIG. 2, speaker cabinet 202 includes both the direct-firing driver 206 and the upward-firing driver 204. Although only one upward-firing driver is shown in each of FIG. 1 and FIG. 2, multiple upward-firing drivers may be incorporated into a reproduction system in some embodiments. For the embodiment of FIGS. 1 and 2, it should be noted that the drivers may be of any appropriate, shape, size and type depending on the frequency response characteristics required, as well as any other relevant constraints, such as size, power rating, component cost, and so on.

[0057] As shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, the upward-firing drivers are positioned such that they project sound at an angle up to the ceiling where it can then bounce back down to a listener. The angle of tilt may be set depending on listening environment characteristics and system requirements. For example, the upward-firing driver 204 may be tilted up between 20 and 60 degrees and may be positioned above the direct-firing driver 206 in the speaker enclosure 202 so as to minimize interference with the sound waves produced from the direct-firing driver 206. The upward-firing driver 204 may be installed at a fixed angle, or it may be installed such that the tilt angle may be adjusted manually. Alternatively, a servo mechanism may be used to allow automatic or electrical control of the tilt angle and projection direction of the upward-firing driver. For certain sounds, such as ambient sound, the upward-firing driver may be pointed straight up out of an upper portion of the speaker enclosure 202 to create what might be referred to as a "top-firing" driver. In this case, a large component of the sound may reflect back down onto the speaker, depending on the acoustic characteristics of the ceiling. In most cases, however, some tilt angle is usually used to help project the sound through reflection off the ceiling to a different or more central location within the listening environment.

[0058] In an embodiment, the upward-firing speaker mounting plane is be tilted forward so that the face of the driver is at an angle between 18° and 22° (20° nominal) relative to the horizontal plane. This tilt angle results in the sound to be transmitted (along the "reference axis") from the upward-firing speaker to be at an angle of 70° relative to direct axis or horizontal plane. This is shown in FIG. 3, which illustrates the relative tilt angle of the upward-firing driver to the direct-firing driver, under this embodiment. As shown in diagram 300, the direct-firing driver 310 projects sound along a direct axis 302 perpendicular or substantially perpendicular to a front surface 301 (face) of the speaker cabinet to the listener. The upward-firing driver 308 is angled at tilt angle of 20° off of the direct axis. As stated above, the corresponding angle 306 for the direct response from the upward-firing driver 308 to the listener will then nominally be 70°. Although a fairly exact angle 304 of 20° is illustrated, it should be noted that any similar angle may be used, such as any angle in the range of 18° to 22°. In some cases, to achieve the needed directivity of the reflected sound down to the listener, drivers may be mounted so that they are not oriented between 18° and 22° (20° nominal) relative to the horizontal plane. If this is so, all measurements shall still be made relative to the reference axis, which is 20° from the vertical axis. The use of other angles may depend on certain characteristics, such as ceiling height and angles, listener position, wall effects, speaker power, and the like.

Terminals, Connections and Polarity

[0059] For the embodiment shown in FIG. 1, the upward-firing driver is contained in a separate cabinet 110 from the direct-firing driver 112. Both drivers (or sets of drivers) are generally part of a single speaker system. In this case, separate input connections are provided for the direct-firing driver and the upward-firing driver. The input connections may be provided by a terminal connector plate provided as part of the main enclosure of the speaker system, and typically mounted on a rear surface of the enclosure. FIG. 4 illustrates a connection terminal for upward-firing and direct- firing speakers, under an embodiment. As shown in FIG. 4, connector terminal 400 includes two sets of binding posts or connectors to couple standard speaker wires to the amplifier or output stage of an audio system. One set of terminals (plus and minus) 402 is labeled "height" for connection to the upward-firing drivers. The other set of terminals 404 is labeled "front" for connection to the direct-firing drivers. For integrated speakers, such as shown in FIG. 2, a single connector set may be provided for both the upward-firing and direct-firing drivers, in which case, the polarity of the upward-firing speaker terminals shall match that of the direct-firing speaker terminals. For add-on module speaker products, a positive input voltage shall produce an outward pressure motion of the main driver cone when a positive input voltage is applied across the terminals (positive to positive, negative to negative).

[0060] With regard to rated impedance, in an embodiment, for passive devices, the rated or nominal impedance of the upward-firing driver is 6Ω or greater, and the minimum impedance is to be not be less than 4.8Ω (80%) of the rated impedance.

[0061] With regard to sensitivity, in an embodiment, for the integrated upward-firing driver (e.g., FIG. 2), the mean of the linear pressure level (converted to dB SPL) in one-third octave bands from 1 to 5 kHz produced at one meter on the upward-firing speaker reference axis using a sinusoidal log sweep at 2.83 Vrms is not more than 3 dB lower than the direct- firing driver on its reference axis. For add-on module speaker products (e.g., FIG. 1), the mean SPL in one-third octave bands from 1 to 5 kHz produced at one meter on the reference axis using a sinusoidal log sweep of 2.83 Vrms is 85 dB or greater.

[0062] In one embodiment, the speaker system features a continuous output SPL (sound pressure level), such that at a distance of one meter and at the rated power handling level of the upward-firing driver, there should be no more than 3 dB compression between 100 Hz and 15 kHz. When an upward-firing driver is used in an integrated speaker that includes direct- firing drivers, the power handling capability of the upward- firing drivers shall be comparable with those of the direct-firing drivers and shall be rated in a similar fashion.

Virtual Height Filter

[0063] In an embodiment, the adaptive audio system utilizes upward-firing drivers to provide the height element for overhead audio objects. This is achieved partly through the perception of reflected sound from above as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2. In practice, however, sound does not radiate in a perfectly directional manner along the reflected path from the upward-firing driver. Some sound from the upward firing driver will travel along a path directly from the driver to the listener, diminishing the perception of sound from the reflected position. The amount of this undesired direct sound in comparison to the desired reflected sound is generally a function of the directivity pattern of the upward firing driver or drivers. To compensate for this undesired direct sound, it has been shown that incorporating signal processing to introduce perceptual height cues into the audio signal being fed to the upward - firing drivers improves the positioning and perceived quality of the virtual height signal. For example, a directional hearing model has been developed to create a virtual height filter, which when used to process audio being reproduced by an upward-firing driver, improves that perceived quality of the reproduction. In an embodiment, the virtual height filter is derived from both the physical speaker location (approximately level with the listener) and the reflected speaker location (above the listener) with respect to the listening position. For the physical speaker location, a first directional filter is determined based on a model of sound travelling directly from the speaker location to the ears of a listener at the listening position. Such a filter may be derived from a model of directional hearing such as a database of HRTF (head related transfer function) measurements or a parametric binaural hearing model, pinna model, or other similar transfer function model that utilizes cues that help perceive height. Although a model that takes into account pinna models is generally useful as it helps define how height is perceived, the filter function is not intended to isolate pinna effects, but rather to process a ratio of sound levels from one direction to another direction, and the pinna model is an example of one such model of a binaural hearing model that may be used, though others may be used as well.

[0064] An inverse of this filter is next determined and used to remove the directional cues for audio travelling along a path directly from the physical speaker location to the listener. Next, for the reflected speaker location, a second directional filter is determined based on a model of sound travelling directly from the reflected speaker location to the ears of a listener at the same listening position using the same model of directional hearing. This filter is applied directly, essentially imparting the directional cues the ear would receive if the sound were emanating from the reflected speaker location above the listener. In practice, these filters may be combined in a way that allows for a single filter that both at least partially removes the directional cues from the physical speaker location, and at least partially inserts the directional cues from the reflected speaker location. Such a single filter provides a frequency response curve that is referred to herein as a "height filter transfer function," "virtual height filter response curve," "desired frequency transfer function," "height cue response curve," or similar words to describe a filter or filter response curve that filters direct sound components from height sound components in an audio playback system.

[0065] With regard to the filter model, if Pi represents the frequency response in dB of the first filter modeling sound transmission from the physical speaker location and P 2 represents the frequency response in dB of the second filter modeling sound transmission from the reflected speaker position, then the total response of the virtual height filter Ρχ in dB can be expressed as: Ρχ = α(Ρ 2 -Ρ , where a is a scaling factor that controls the strength of the filter. With a^l, the filter is applied maximally, and with cc=0, the filter does nothing (0 dB response). In practice, a is set somewhere between 0 and 1 (e.g. cc=0.5) based on the relative balance of reflected to direct sound. As the level of the direct sound increases in comparison to the reflected sound, so should a in order to more fully impart the directional cues of the reflected speaker position to this undesired direct sound path. However, a should not be made so large as to damage the perceived timbre of audio travelling along the reflected path, which already contains the proper directional cues. In practice a value of cc=0.5 has been found to work well with the directivity patterns of standard speaker drivers in an upward firing configuration. In general, the exact values of the filters Pi and P 2 will be a function of the azimuth of the physical speaker location with respect to the listener and the elevation of the reflected speaker location. This elevation is in turn a function of the distance of the physical speaker location from the listener and the difference between the height of the ceiling and the height of the speaker (assuming the listener's head is at the same height of the speaker).

[0066] FIG. 5 depicts virtual height filter responses P T with cc=l derived from a directional hearing model based on a database of HRTF responses averaged across a large set of subjects. The black lines 503 represent the filter Ρχ computed over a range of azimuth angles and a range of elevation angles corresponding to reasonable speaker distances and ceiling heights. Looking at these various instances of P T , one first notes that the majority of each filter's variation occurs at higher frequencies, above 4Hz. In addition, each filter exhibits a peak located at roughly 7kHz and a notch at roughly 12kHz. The exact level of the peak and notch vary a few dB between the various responses curves. Given this close agreement in location of peak and notch between the set of responses, it has been found that a single average filter response 302, given by the thick gray line, may serve as a universal height cue filter for most reasonable physical speaker locations and room dimensions. Given this finding, a single filter P T may be designed for a virtual height speaker, and no knowledge of the exact speaker location and room dimensions is required for reasonable performance. For increased performance, however, such knowledge may be utilized to dynamically set the filter Ρχίο one of the particular black curves in FIG. 5, corresponding to the specific speaker location and room dimensions.

[0067] The typical use of such a virtual height filter for virtual height rendering is for audio to be pre-processed by a filter exhibiting one of the magnitude responses depicted in FIG. 5 (e.g. average curve 502), before it is played through the upward-firing virtual height speaker. The filter may be provided as part of the speaker unit, or it may be a separate component that is provided as part of the renderer, amplifier, or other intermediate audio processing component. FIG. 6 illustrates a virtual height filter incorporated as part of a speaker system having an upward-firing driver, under an embodiment. As shown in system 600 of FIG. 6, an adaptive audio renderer 612 outputs audio signals that contain separate height signal components and direct signal components. The height signal components are meant to be played through an upward-firing driver 618, and the direct audio signal component is meant to be played through a direct- firing driver 617. The signal components are not necessarily different in terms of frequency content or audio content, but are instead differentiated on the basis of height cues present in the audio objects or signals. For the embodiment of FIG. 6, a height filter 606 contained within or otherwise associated with rendering component 612 compensates for any undesired direct sound direct sound components that may be present in the height signal by providing perceptual height cues into the height signal to improve the positioning and perceived quality of the virtual signal. Such a height filter may incorporate the reference curve shown in FIG. 5. Instead of being located in the rendering component 612, the height filter component may be incorporated in the speaker system, as shown with optional height filter component 616 in speaker cabinet 618. This alternative embodiment allows the height filter function to be built-in to the speaker to provide virtual height filtering.

[0068] In an embodiment, certain positional information is provided to the height filter, along with a bypass signal to enable or disable the virtual height filter within the speaker system. FIG. 7A illustrates a height filter receiving positional information and a bypass signal, under an embodiment. As shown in FIG. 7A, positional information is provided to the virtual height filter 712, which is connected to the upward firing driver 714. The positional information may include speaker position and room size utilized for the selection of the proper virtual height filter response from the set depicted in FIG 5. In addition, this positional data may be utilized to vary the inclination angle of the upward-firing driver 724 if such angle is made adjustable through either automatic or manual means. A typical and effective angle for most cases is approximately 20 degrees, as shown in FIG. 3. As discussed earlier, however, the angle should ideally be set to maximize the ratio of reflected to direct sound at the listening position. If the directivity pattern of the upward-firing driver is known, then the optimal angle may be computed given the exact speaker distance and ceiling height, and the tilt angle may then be adjusted if the upward-firing driver is movable with respect to the direct firing driver, such as through a hinged enclosure or servo-controlled arrangement. Depending on implementation of the control circuitry (e.g., either analog, digital, or electromechanical), such positional information can be provided through electrical signaling methods, electromechanical means, or other similar mechanisms

[0069] In certain scenarios, additional information about the listening environment may necessitate further adjustment of the inclination angle through either manual or automatic means. This may include cases where the ceiling is very absorptive or unusually high. In such cases, the amount of sound travelling along the reflected path may be diminished, and it may therefore be desirable to tilt the driver further forward to increase the amount of direct path signal from the driver to increase reproduction efficiency. As this direct path component increases, it is then desirable to increase the filter scaling parameter a, as explained earlier. As such this filter scaling parameter a may be set automatically as a function of the variable inclination angle as well as the other variables relevant to the reflected to direct sound ratio. For the embodiment of FIG. 7A, the virtual height filter 722 also receives a bypass signal, which allows that filter to be cut out of the circuit if virtual height filtering is not desired.

[0070] As shown in FIG. 6, the renderer outputs separate height and direct signals to directly the respective upward-firing and direct- firing drivers. Alternatively, the renderer could output a single audio signal that is separated into height and direct components by a discrete separation or crossover circuit. In this case, the audio output from the renderer would be separated into its constituent height and direct components by a separate circuit. In certain cases the height and direct components are not frequency dependent and an external separation circuit is used to separate the audio into height and direct sound components and route these signals to the appropriate respective drivers, where virtual height filtering would be applied to the upward firing speaker signal.

[0071] In most common cases, however, the height and direct components may be frequency dependent, and the separation circuit comprises crossover circuit that separates the full-bandwidth signal into low and high (or bandpass) components for transmission to the appropriate drivers. This is often the most useful case since height cues are typically more prevalent in high frequency signals rather than low frequency signals, and for this application, a crossover circuit may be used in conjunction with or integrated in the virtual height filter component to route high frequency signals to the upward-firing driver(s) and lower frequency signals to the direct- firing driver(s). FIG. 7B is a diagram illustrating a virtual height filter system including crossover circuit, under an embodiment. As shown in system 750, output from the renderer 702 through an amp (not shown) is a full bandwidth signal and a virtual height speaker filter 708 is used to impart the desired height filter transfer function for signals sent to the upward-firing driver 712. A crossover circuit 706 separates the full bandwidth signal from renderer 702 into high (upper) and low (direct) frequency components for transmission to the appropriate drivers 712 (upward-firing) and 714 (direct- firing). The crossover 706 may be integrated with or separate from the height filter 708, and these separate or combined circuits may be provided anywhere within the signal processing chain, such as between the renderer and speaker system (as shown), as part of an amp or pre- amp in the chain, within the speaker system itself, or as components closely coupled or integrated within the renderer 702. The crossover function may be implemented prior to or after the virtual height filtering function.

[0072] A crossover circuit typically separates the audio into two or three frequency bands with filtered audio from the different bands being sent to the appropriate drivers within the speaker. For example in a two-band crossover, the lower frequencies are sent to a larger driver capable of faithfully reproducing low frequencies (e.g., woofer/midranges) and the higher frequencies are typically sent to smaller transducers (e.g., tweeters) that are more capable of faithfully reproducing higher frequencies. FIG. 8 A is a high-level circuit diagram of a two-band crossover filter used in conjunction with a virtual height filter, such as shown in FIG. 7A, under an embodiment. With reference to diagram 800, an audio signal input to crossover circuit 802 is sent to a high-pass filter 804 and a low-pass filter 806. The crossover 802 is set or programmed with a particular cut-off frequency that defines the crossover point. This frequency may be static or it may be variable (i.e., through a variable resistor circuit in an analog implementation or a variable crossover parameter in a digital implementation). The high-pass filter 804 cuts the low frequency signals (those below the cut-off frequency) and sends the high frequency component to the high frequency driver 807. Similarly, the low-pass filter 806 cuts the high frequencies (those above the cut-off frequency) and sends the low frequency component to the low frequency driver 808. A three-way crossover functions similarly except that there are two crossover points and three band-pass filters to separate the input audio signal into three bands for transmission to three separate drivers, such as tweeters, mid-ranges, and woofers.

[0073] The crossover circuit 802 may be implemented as an analog circuit using known analog components (e.g., capacitors, inductors, resistors, etc.) and known circuit designs. Alternatively, it may be implemented as a digital circuit using digital signal processor (DSP) components, logic gates, programmable arrays, or other digital circuits.

[0074] The crossover circuit of FIG. 8A can used to implement at least a portion of the virtual height filter, such as virtual height filter 702 of FIG. 7. As seen in FIG. 5, most of the virtual height filtering takes place at frequencies above 4kHz, which is higher than the cut-off frequency for many two-way crossovers. FIG. 8B illustrates a two-band crossover that implements virtual height filtering in the high-pass filtering path, under an embodiment. As shown in diagram 820, crossover 821 includes low-pass filter 825 and high-pass-filter 824. The high -pass filter is part of a circuit 820 that includes a virtual height filter component 828. This virtual height filter applies the desired height filter response, such as curve 302, to the high-pass filtered signal prior to transmission to the high-frequency driver 830.

[0075] A bypass switch 826 may be provided to allow the system or user to bypass the virtual height filter circuit during calibration or setup operations so that other audio signal processes can operate without interfering with the virtual height filter. The switch 826 can either be a manual user operated toggle switch that is provided on the speaker or rendering component where the filter circuit resides, or it may be an electronic switch controlled by software, or any other appropriate type of switch. Positional information 822 may also be provided to the virtual height filter 828.

[0076] The embodiment of FIG. 8B illustrates a virtual height filter used with the high- pass filter stage of a crossover. It should be noted in an alternative embodiment, a virtual height filter may be used with the low-pass filter so that that the lower frequency band could also be modified so as to mimic the lower frequencies of the response as shown in FIG 5. However, in most practical applications, the crossover may be unduly complicated in light of the minimal height cues present in the low-frequency range.

[0077] FIG. 9 illustrates the frequency response of the two-band crossover of FIG. 8B, under an embodiment. As shown in diagram 900, the crossover has a cut-off frequency of 902 to create a frequency response curve 904 of the low-pass filter that cuts frequencies above the cut-off frequency 902, and a frequency response curve 906 for the high-pass filter that cuts frequencies below the cut-off frequency 902. The virtual height filter curve 908 is superimposed over the high-pass filter curve 906 when the virtual height filter is applied to the audio signal after the high-pass filter stage.

[0078] The crossover implementation shown in FIG. 8B assumes that the upward-firing virtual height speaker is implemented using two drivers, one for low frequencies and one for high frequencies. However, this configuration may not be ideal under most conditions.

Specific and controlled directionality of an upward-firing speaker is often critical for effective virtualization. For example, a single transducer speaker is usually more effective when implementing the virtual height speaker. Additionally, a smaller, single transducer (e.g., 3" in diameter) is preferred as it is more directional at higher frequencies and more affordable than a larger transducer.

[0079] In an embodiment, the upward-firing driver may comprise a pair or array of two or more speakers of different sizes and/or characteristics. FIG. 10 illustrates various different upward-firing and direct- firing driver configurations for use with a virtual height filter, under an embodiment. As shown in FIG. 10, an upward-firing speaker may include two drivers 1002 and 1004 both mounted within the same cabinet 1001 to fire upwards at the same angle. The drivers may be of the same configuration or they may be of different configurations

(size, power, frequency response, etc.), depending on application needs. The upward firing (UF) audio signal is transmitted to this speaker 1001 and internal processing may be used to send appropriate audio to either or both of the drivers 1002 and 1004. In an alternative embodiment, one of the upward-firing drivers, e.g., 1004 may be angled differently to the other driver, as shown in speaker 1010. In this case upward-firing driver 1004 is directed to fire substantially frontward out of the cabinet 1010. It should be noted that any appropriate angle may be selected for either or both of drivers 1002 and 1004, and that the speaker configuration may include any appropriate number of drivers or driver arrays of various types (cone, ribbon, horn, etc.). In an embodiment, the upward-firing speakers 1001 and 1002 may be mounted on a forward or direct- firing speaker 1020 that includes one or more drivers 1020 that transmits sound directly out from the main cabinet. This speaker receives the main audio input signal, as separate from the UF audio signal.

[0080] FIG. 8C illustrates a crossover that combines upward-firing and front-firing speaker crossover filter networks for use with different high-frequency drivers, such as shown in FIG. 10, under an embodiment. Diagram 8000 illustrates an embodiment in which separate crossovers are provided for the front-firing speaker and the virtual height speaker. The direct-firing speaker crossover 8012 comprises a low-pass filter 8016 that feeds low- frequency driver 8020 and a high-pass filter 8014 that feeds high-frequency driver 8018. The virtual height speaker crossover 8002 includes a low-pass filter 8004 that also feeds low- frequency driver 8020 through combination with the output of low-pass filter 8016 in crossover 8012. The virtual height crossover 8002 includes a high-pass filter 8006 that incorporates virtual height filter function 8008. The output of this component 8007 feeds high frequency driver 8010. Driver 8010 is an upward-firing driver and is typically a smaller and possibly different composition driver than the direct-firing low-frequency driver 8020. As an example, the effective frequency range for front-facing driver low frequency driver 8020 may be set from 40Hz to 2Khz, for front-facing high frequency driver 8018 from 2Khz to 20kHz, and for upward-firing high frequency driver 8010 from 400Hz to 20kHz.

[0081] There are several benefits from combining the crossover networks for the upward and direct-firing drivers as shown in FIG. 10. First, the preferred smaller driver will not be able to effectively reproduce lower frequencies and may actually distort at loud levels.

Therefore filtering and redirecting the low frequencies to the direct-firing driver's low frequency drivers will allow the smaller single speaker to be used for the virtual height speaker and result in greater fidelity. Additionally, research has shown that there is little virtual height effect for audio signals below 400 Hz, so sending only higher frequencies to the virtual height speaker 1010 represents an optimum use of that driver.

Speaker Transfer Function

[0082] In an embodiment, a passive or active height cue filter is applied to create a target transfer function to optimize height reflected sound. The frequency response of the system, including the height cue filter, as measured with all included components, is measured at one meter on the reference axis using a sinusoidal log sweep and must have a maximum error of +3 dB from 180 Hz to 5 kHz as compared to the target curve using a maximum smoothing of one-sixth octave. Additionally, there should be a peak at 7 kHz of no less than 1 dB and a minimum at 12 kHz of no more than -2 dB relative to the mean from 1,000 to 5,000 Hz. It may be advantageous to provide a monotonic relationship between these two points. For the upward-firing driver, the low-frequency response characteristics shall follow that of a second- order highpass filter with a target cut-off frequency of 180 Hz and a quality factor of 0.707. It is acceptable to have a rolloff with a corner lower than 180 Hz. The response should be greater than -13 dB at 90 Hz. Self -powered systems should be tested at a mean SPL in one- third octave bands from 1 to 5 kHz of 86 dB produced at one meter on the reference axis using a sinusoidal log sweep. FIG. 11 is a graph illustrating a target transfer function 1102 for an upward-firing speaker system, under an embodiment.

[0083] In an alternate embodiment, the target transfer function described above may be augmented with a high frequency boost in order to achieve a flatter overall frequency response at an anticipated listening position. With an upward firing driver, the higher frequencies may radiate more directionally than the lower frequencies. As a result, a greater proportion of the perceived high frequency energy will propagate to the listener along the reflected path in comparison to lower frequencies which will have a large proportion propagating along the direct path. Since the reflected path is longer than the direct path, the higher frequencies may therefore be attenuated more by the time they reach the listener. In addition, the reflection off of the ceiling may further attenuate these high frequencies. This possible relative loss of high frequency energy at the listening position may be compensated by incorporating a high frequency boost into the target frequency response of the reference-axis measurement of the upward firing driver. Based on measurements of several upward firing drivers in several rooms, a target frequency response will include, in addition to the height cue filter, a monotonic 4dB per octave boost starting at 5kHz.

[0084] With regard to speaker directivity, in an embodiment, the upward-firing speaker system requires a relative frequency response of the upward-firing driver as measured on both the reference axis and the direct response axis. The direct-response transfer function is generally measured at one meter at an angle of +70° from the reference axis using a sinusoidal log sweep. The height cue filter is included in both measurements. There should be a ratio of reference axis response to direct response of at least 5 dB at 5 kHz and at least 10 dB at 10 kHz, and a monotonic relationship between these two points is recommended. FIG. 12A illustrates the placement of microphones 1204 relative to an upward-firing speaker system 1202 to measure the relative frequency response of the upward-firing and direct-firing drivers; and FIG. 12B illustrates a reference axis response 1212 and the direct response at indicated measurement positions 1214, under an embodiment. The foregoing represents some example test and configuration data for an upward-firing speaker system under an embodiment, and other variations are also possible.

Room Correction with Virtual Height Speakers

[0085] As discussed above, adding virtual height filtering to a virtual height speaker adds perceptual cues to the audio signal that add or improve the perception of height to upward- firing drivers. Incorporating virtual height filtering techniques into speakers and/or Tenderers may need to account for other audio signal processes performed by playback equipment. One such process is room correction, which is a process that is common in commercially available AVRs. Room correction techniques utilize a microphone placed in the listening environment to measure the time and frequency response of audio test signals played back through an AVR with connected speakers. The purpose of the test signals and microphone measurement is to measure and compensate for several key factors, such as the acoustical effects of the room and environment on the audio, including room nodes (nulls and peaks), non-ideal frequency response of the playback speakers, time delays between multiple speakers and the listening position, and other similar factors. Automatic frequency equalization and/or volume compensation may be applied to the signal to overcome any effects detected by the room correction system. For example, for the first two factors, equalization is typically used to modify the audio played back through the AVR/speaker system, in order to adjust the frequency response magnitude of the audio so that room nodes (peaks and notches) and speaker response inaccuracies are corrected.

[0086] If virtual height speakers are used in the system (through the upward-firing speakers) and virtual filtering is enabled, a room correction system may detect the virtual height filter as a room node or speaker anomaly and attempt to equalize the virtual height magnitude response to be flat. This attempted correction is especially noticeable if the virtual height filter exhibits a pronounced high frequency notch, such as when the inclination angle is relatively high. Embodiments of a virtual height speaker system include techniques and components to prevent a room correction system from undoing the virtual height filtering. FIG. 13 is a block diagram of a virtual height rendering system that includes room correction and virtual height speaker detection capabilities, under an embodiment. As shown in diagram 1300, an AVR or other rendering component 1302 is connected to one or more virtual height speakers 1306 that incorporates a virtual height filter process 1308. This filter produces a frequency response that may be susceptible to room correction 1304 or other anomaly compensation techniques performed by renderer 1302.

[0087] In an embodiment, the room correction compensation component includes a component 1305 that allows the AVR or other rendering component to detect that a virtual height speaker is connected to it. One such detection technique is the use of a room calibration user interface and a speaker definition that specifies a type of speaker as a virtual or non-virtual height speaker. Present audio systems often include an interface that ask the user to specify the size of the speaker in each speaker location, such as small, medium, large. In an embodiment, a virtual height speaker type is added to this definition set. Thus, the system can anticipate the presence of virtual height speakers through an additional data element, such as small, medium, large, virtual height, etc. In an alternative embodiment, a virtual height speaker may include signaling hardware that states that it is a virtual height speaker as opposed to a non- virtual height speaker. In this case, a rendering device (such as an AVR) could probe the speakers and look for information regarding whether any particular speaker incorporates virtual height technology. This data could be provided via a defined communication protocol, which could be wireless, direct digital connection or via a dedicated analog path using existing speaker wire or separate connection. In a further alternative embodiment, detection can be performed through the use of test signals and measurement procedures that are configured or modified to identify the unique frequency characteristics of a virtual height filter in a speaker and determine that a virtual height speaker is connected via analysis of the measured test signal.

[0088] Once a rendering device with room correction capabilities has detected the presence of a virtual height speaker (or speakers) connected to the system, a calibration process 1305 is performed to correctly calibrate the system without adversely affecting the virtual height filtering function 1308. In one embodiment, calibration can be performed using a communication protocol that allows the rendering device to have the virtual height speaker 1306 bypass the virtual height filtering process 1308. This could be done if the speaker is active and can bypass the filtering. The bypass function may be implemented as a user selectable switch, or it may be implemented as a software instruction (e.g., if the filter 1308 is implemented in a DSP), or as an analog signal (e.g., if the filter is implemented as an analog circuit).

[0089] In an alternative embodiment, system calibration can be performed using pre- emphasis filtering. In this embodiment, the room correction algorithm 1304 performs pre- emphasis filtering on the test signal it generates and outputs to the speakers for use in the calibration process. FIG. 14 is a graph that displays the effect of pre-emphasis filtering for calibration, under an embodiment. Plot 1400 illustrates a typical frequency response for a virtual height filter 1404, and a complimentary pre-emphasis filter frequency response 1402. The pre-emphasis filter is applied to the audio test signal used in the room calibration process, so that when played back through the virtual height speaker, the effect of the filter is cancelled, as shown by the complementary plots of the two curves 1402 and 1404 in the upper frequency range of plot 1400. In this way, calibration would be applied as if using a normal, non- virtual height speaker.

[0090] In yet a further alternative embodiment, calibration can be performed by adding the virtual height filter response to the target response of the calibration system. In either of these two cases (pre-emphasis filter or modification of target response), the virtual height filter used to modify the calibration procedure may be chosen to match exactly the filter utilized in the speaker. If, however, the virtual height filter utilized with or inside the speaker is a universal filter, which is not modified as a function of the speaker location and room dimensions, then the calibration system may instead select a virtual height filter response corresponding to the actual location and dimensions if such information is available to the system. In this way, the calibration system applies a correction equivalent to the difference between the more precise, location dependent virtual height filter response and the universal response utilized in the speaker. In this hybrid system, the fixed filter in the speaker provides a good virtual height effect, and the calibration system in the AVR further refines this effect with more knowledge of the listening environment.

[0091] FIG. 15 is a flow diagram illustrating a method of performing virtual height filtering in an adaptive audio system, under an embodiment. The process of FIG. 15 illustrates the functions performed by the components shown in FIG. 13. Process 1500 starts by sending a test signal or signals to the virtual height speakers with built-in virtual height filtering, act 1502. The built-in virtual height filtering produces a frequency response curve, such as that shown in FIG. 7, which may be seen as an anomaly that would be corrected by any room correction processes. In act 1504, the system detects the presence of the virtual height speakers, so that any modification due to application of room correction methods may be corrected or compensated to allow the operation of the virtual height filtering of the virtual height speakers, act 1506. Speaker System and Circuit Design

[0092] As described above, the virtual height filter may be implemented in a speaker either on its own or with or as part of a crossover circuit that separates input audio

frequencies into high and low bands, or more depending on the crossover design. Either of these circuits may be implemented as a digital DSP circuit or other circuit that implements an FIR (finite impulse response) or IIR (infinite impulse response) filter to approximate the virtual height filter curve, such as shown in FIG. 5. Either of the crossover, separation circuit, and/or virtual height filter may be implemented as passive or active circuits, wherein an active circuit requires a separate power supply to function, and a passive circuit uses power provided by other system components or signals.

[0093] For an embodiment in which the height filter or crossover is provided as part of a speaker system (enclosure plus drivers), this component may be implemented in an analog circuit. FIG. 16A is a circuit diagram illustrating an analog virtual height filter circuit, under an embodiment. Circuit 1600 includes a virtual height filter comprising a connection of analog components with values chosen to approximate the equivalent of curve 502 with scaling parameter cc=0.5 for a 3-inch 6-ohm speaker with a nominally flat response to 18kHz. The frequency response of this circuit is depicted in FIG. 16B as a black curve 1622 along with the desired curve 1624 in gray. The example circuit 1600 of FIG. 16 is meant to represent just one example of a possible circuit design or layout for a virtual height filter circuit, and other designs are possible.

[0094] Figure 17 A depicts a digital implementation of the height cue filter for use in a powered speaker employing a DSP or active circuitry. The filter is implemented as a fourth order IIR filter with coefficients chosen for a sampling rate of 48kHz. This filter may alternatively be converted into an equivalent active analog circuit through means well known to one skilled in the art. Figure 17B depicts an example frequency response curve 1724 of this filter along with a desired response curve 1722.

[0095] FIG. 18 is a circuit diagram illustrating an analog crossover circuit that may be used with a virtual height filter circuit, under an embodiment. FIG. 18 illustrates a standard type crossover circuit that may be used for the direct-firing woofer and tweeter. Although specific component connections and values are shown in FIG. 18, it should be noted that other implementation alternatives are also possible. Passive Virtual Height Filter System

[0096] The typical use of such a virtual height filter for virtual height rendering is for audio to be pre-processed by a filter exhibiting one of the magnitude responses depicted in FIG. 5 (e.g. average curve 502), before it is played through the upward-firing virtual height speaker. In certain systems, the filter may be provided as a separate circuit or component that is part of the renderer, amplifier, or other intermediate audio processing component.

Typically it may be embodied as an analog filter circuit or digital filter DSP that is incorporated as part of a speaker system having an upward-firing driver. Such a discrete virtual height filter may be embodied as a circuit within the renderer stage or the speaker itself and, as stated before, may be a relatively complex and costly component in the audio system.

[0097] FIG. 19 illustrates the function of virtual height filtering in an adaptive audio rendering system. As shown in diagram 2300 of FIG. 19, adaptive audio renderer 2302 outputs audio signals that contain separate height signal components and direct signal components. The height signal components are meant to be played through an upward-firing driver 2308, and the direct audio signal component is meant to be played through a direct- firing driver 2307. The signal components are not necessarily different in terms of frequency content or audio content, but are instead differentiated on the basis of height cues present in the audio objects or signals. A virtual height filter function 2304 compensates for or cuts out any undesired direct sound direct sound components that may be present in the height signal by providing perceptual height cues into the height signal to improve the positioning and perceived quality of the virtual signal. Such a height filter may incorporate the reference curve shown in FIG. 5. In certain known systems, the virtual height filtering function 2304 may be contained within or otherwise associated with renderer 2302 in the speaker cabinet 2307 and/or 2308 itself. In an embodiment, the virtual height filtering function 2304 is implemented as a passive element that is built-in to one or more mechanical elements of the speaker, namely the speaker grill covering the upward firing driver 2308. This embodiment greatly simplifies and reduces component costs for upward-firing speaker systems that include virtual height filtering.

Virtual Height Filter Speaker Grill

[0098] Speaker drivers are often covered by a grill made of cloth or foam to visually hide the drivers, or perforated plastic or metal to protect the drivers from puncture or damage. Typically the intent is that the grill does not impart significant variation to the sound of the loudspeaker, nor affect the operation of the drivers. In the case of perforated materials, this means minimizing the occlusion of sound coming from the driver by having a grill that is very open. That is, a high proportion of surface-area dedicated to holes and a low amount of surface-area dedicated to the grill material. Typically perforated steel grills have greater than 60 percent of their area open, and some use hexagonal holes, which can pack more densely and give even higher open percentages.

[0099] In an embodiment, an upward-firing speaker system includes a grill that covers the upward firing driver and that imparts a virtual height filtering function to the reflected sound components in the audio signal sent to the upward-firing driver. This built-in passive filtering feature eliminates the need to utilize expensive circuitry such as separate and dedicated analog or digital virtual height filters. FIG. 20 illustrates an upward firing driver including a virtual height filtering function, under an embodiment. As shown in FIG. 20, speaker cabinet 2401 includes an upward firing driver 2402 that projects sound upward at a defined angle (e.g., 20 degrees) off of the horizontal axis. This driver receives the upward firing (UF) audio component 2404 from the renderer which represents audio objects with height cues that are reproduced for the listener by reflecting the sound off of the ceiling above the listener. The direct components of the audio in this signal must be filtered out as described above with respect to FIG. 5 so that the proper height cues are perceived by the listener.

[00100] In an embodiment, the driver 2402 is covered by a grill that hides and/or protects the driver within the cabinet 2401. FIG. 21 is a cross section of the upward-firing speaker of FIG. 24 having a grail that provides at least some degree of virtual height filtering. As shown in FIG. 25, the speaker cone 2504 of the driver is mounted within the cabinet baffle 2502. A grill 2506 is attached to the edge of the driver or to the cabinet baffle 2502 to cover and protect the cone 2804. Movement of the cone backwards and forwards projects sound through the grill. Although the driver of FIG. 21 is illustrated as being oriented vertically with respect to the horizontal plane, it should be noted that the orientation of the driver is actually tilted upward, as shown in FIG. 20. If the grill 2506 is of a relatively open design, the sound emanating from the driver passes through the grill and the measured frequency response of the loudspeaker with grill is substantially the same as without the grill. However, if the grill 2806 is designed and configured

appropriately with respect to material and size/shape of the holes and/or grid pattern, some degree of virtual height filtering may be imparted to the sound projected by the cone 2504. In an embodiment, the grill is made of a rigid material, such as metal, plastic, or other similar material.

[00101] In an embodiment, the grill 2506 is configured to produce a specific pinna filter response that provides some degree of virtual height filtering to the UF audio

components projected through the upward-firing driver. FIG. 22 is a graph illustrating a pinna filter response generated by a virtual height filter speaker grill for use in an upward- firing speaker system, under an embodiment. As shown in FIG. 22, the dotted curve 1524 represents a pinna filter curve that may be provided by an electrical virtual height filter, and the solid curve 1522 represents a desired pinna filter curve. The grill 806 is configured to produce the frequency response represented by curve 1522 of FIG. 22.

[00102] As stated earlier, an open grill design does not generally affect the frequency response characteristics of the transmitted sound. However, if the proportion of the grill given to holes is reduced, i.e., the number of holes is reduced and/or the size of the holes is reduced, the grill starts to affect the frequency response of the speaker.

Higher frequencies overall become attenuated and ripples (areas of increasing level and areas of attenuation) appear in the frequency response. The frequencies at which these effects occur are related to how close the grill is to the loudspeaker cone, and thus how much air is "trapped" between the driver cone and the grill. In general, the closer the grill is to the driver, the higher in frequency the changes in the frequency response occur, and the more occluded the grill, the more extreme the differences between the peaks and valleys in the ripples in the frequency response.

[00103] In an embodiment, the grill is designed to be of a shape and installation configuration that allows it to be placed very close to the speaker cone. FIG. 23 illustrates a cross section of a speaker driver in a baffle and with a grill very close to the loudspeaker cone, under an embodiment. In this embodiment, the shape of the grill 2706 follows the contour of the cone 2704 in order to maintain a close spacing. The spacing may be set based on a number of variables, such as driver size and material, baffle thickness, sound level of the UF audio, and other similar factors. Typical gap distances between the cone 2704 and grill 2706 may range from between ¼ inch to ½ inch depending on these variables, though other gap distances are also possible. In an embodiment, the gap distance is uniform throughout the area of the cone. Alternatively, the grill may be configured to have a lesser or greater amount of gap for different sections of the cone, such as the cone center versus the cone edges. Thus, the grill 2706 does not need to exactly follow the contour of the cone 2704, but can have a distance to the cone that varies. This widens the frequency areas of boost or cut, which allows the frequency response to be tailored according to specific application needs.

[00104] The grill 2706 of FIG. 23 may be implemented in various different, mesh, hole or perforation patterns and materials, depending on system constraints and requirements. FIG. 24 illustrates a perspective view of a virtual height filter grill, under an embodiment. Grill 2802 of FIG. 24 is essentially a three-dimensional perforated structure that is contoured to fit closely to the speaker cone while maintaining a specific gap. The grill is designed to cover the loudspeaker driver and have its outer surface flush with the surrounding baffle, so as not to introduce unwanted frequency response variations due to edge diffraction.

[00105] In an embodiment, the grill 2402 is made of a material such as plastic or other similar formable material with a thickness that allows appropriate blocking of sound depending on the size and number of perforations (holes) formed in the grill. The number, size, and shape of the perforations are configured to provide the desired pinna frequency response based on the size and audio characteristics of the upward-firing driver. In an embodiment, the perforations may be of the same size and shape. Alternatively, they may be of different sizes and/or shapes to provide specific tuning of the filter response curve.

[00106] As shown in FIG. 24, one or more mounting holes are provided to allow the grill to be firmly attached to the speaker. A pair or set of screw holes may be provided to allow the grill to be attached directly to the baffle proximate the cone through the use of screws, nails, bolts, or similar attachment means. Other similar rigid attachment means may also be used, such as clips, glue, tabbed slots, and the like. The grill is typically attached to the speaker cabinet so that it remains fixed relative to the speaker cabinet (and baffle), while the cone moves behind it. Alternatively, it may be attached to the driver itself, such as to an outer rim of the cone so that it moves in conjunction with the cone, so as to maintain a consistent gap to the cone as it moves back and forth to generate sound.

[00107] FIG. 25 is a graph that illustrates an example of the effect of the cross section of a driver cone and the grill of FIG. 24, under an embodiment. As shown in FIG. 25, frequencies in the region of 6 kHz are boosted whilst frequencies in the region of 12 kHz are attenuated. This approximates the desired frequency response 2922 illustrated in FIG. 9. FIG. 25 illustrates an example magnitude response of an

approximately 70mm diameter loudspeaker with and without the grill as shown by respective frequency response curves 2904 and 2902.

[00108] In an embodiment, the speaker cone has a circular concave shape with a specific depth to diameter ratio, and the grill is sized and shaped accordingly, as shown in FIG. 24. However, speaker cones may come in shapes other than shown in the figures. For example electrostatic and piezo-electric loudspeakers have a flat face and others have a concave curved surface or even a convex curved surface. In these cases, the grill can configured appropriately such that the spacing to the cone and the amount of occlusion is optimized to impart a frequency response change according to the desired Pinna response for virtual height filtering, such as shown in FIG. 22.

[00109] In an embodiment, the upward-firing driver of FIG. 20 may comprise a pair or array of two or more speakers of different sizes and/or characteristics. For example, the upward-firing speaker may include two drivers both mounted within the same enclosure to fire upwards at the same angle. The drivers may be of the same configuration or they may be of different configurations (size, power, frequency response, etc.), depending on application needs. Alternatively, the upward firing drivers may be oriented at different angles. Yet further alternatively, an array of upward-firing transducers may be used. In the dual- or multi-driver case, each driver or transducer may be covered with its own grill, or a single unitary grill may be configured and sized to cover all of the upward-firing drivers in the speaker enclosure.

[00110] In an embodiment, the grill is designed to appropriately alter the directivity or radiation pattern of the speaker driver, and the directivity is narrowed to reinforce the bouncing of sounds off adjacent surfaces, such as the wall or floor of the listening room. In certain scenarios, additional characteristics of the listening environment may necessitate grill configuration, such as cases where the ceiling is very absorptive or unusually high. In such cases, the amount of sound travelling along the reflected path may be diminished, and it may therefore be desirable to transmit more or less sound. Alternatively, the tilt angle of the upward-firing driver may also be altered (through mechanical or automated means) to increase or decrease the amount of direct path signal from the driver to increase reproduction efficiency. As this direct path component changes, it may then be desirable to change the filter scaling parameter accordingly. This can be accomplished by altering the grill design and/or the tilt angle of the speaker. Different grills may thus be provided with specific speakers to provide different filter scaling parameters.

[00111] In an embodiment, another passive virtual height filter configuration may involve the shape, composition, and/or size of the speaker enclosure itself. For this embodiment, the enclosure is designed to be of a size and shape that at least partially creates the frequency response of FIG. 5. The material composition of the enclosure (e.g., wood laminate, plastic, aluminum, fiberglass, etc.) may also be selected to help create the desired frequency response. In addition, the speaker may incorporate or include certain acoustic/mechanical structures that tailor or shape the sound to produce certain notches or peaks in the frequency response, such as baffling, cutouts, resonant chambers, and so on.

[00112] The design, shape, and composition of the driver or drivers within the upward firing driver or speaker system can also be configured to impart at least some degree of virtual height filtering characteristics.

Combined Active/Passive Virtual Height Filter

[00113] In an embodiment, the desired pinna filter curve, as shown in FIG. 22, may be produced by a combination of the grill, electrical components, digital filtering, frequency characteristics of the driver itself, and the shape of the enclosure. FIG. 26 is a block diagram that illustrates the components of an adaptive audio system that comprises a number of combined components that together produce a desired virtual height filtering effect. For example the grill may be designed to produce the peak response of the desired filter at approximately 7 kHz, and electrical components could produce the dip in the response of the desired filter at approximately 12 kHz. In another example, the grill may be designed to produce a peak broader than required but with sufficient spacing to allow the driver to move to adequately produce its lowest frequencies, the dip at approximately 12 kHz could be produced by electrical components, and digital filtering could be used to fix any errors between the combined grill, enclosure and electrical response, and the desired response. In another example, the driver may be specifically selected or designed to have a peaking response at approximately 7 kHz, the dip at approximately 12 kHz could be produced by electrical components, and digital filtering could be used to fix any errors between the combined driver and electrical response, and the desired response.

[00114] FIG. 26 is a block diagram that illustrates the components of an adaptive audio system that comprises a number of combined components that together produce a desired virtual height filtering effect. The reflected sound component 3001 of the audio, which is typically sent to an upward firing driver in the speaker system, is processed through a virtual height filter 3010 that applies a filtering function to generate a desired frequency response as shown in FIG. 5 or FIG. 22. The filtering function 3010 is provided by one or more components of the speaker system including an analog filter circuit 3002, a digital filter circuit 3004, a specially configured speaker grill 3006, and specially configured speaker components, such as enclosure and/or driver 3008. The analog and digital filter circuits 3002 and 3004 generally represent active components in that they require power to operate and/or process the electrical signal for audio input 3001. The grill and speaker components 3006 and 3008 generally represent passive components in that they do not require power and process the acoustic signal of audio input 3001 through acoustic/mechanical means. Any or all of the components 3002- 3008 may be used alone or in combination to produce the desired virtual height filter function 3010, as described above. For example, some components may be used to generate the general filter shape, while other components may accentuate or modify specific areas of the frequency response curve. Likewise, different components may be used to provide different frequency responses so that a combination of these components together produce the desired response curve. The composition and combination of components may be tailored depending on actual system constraints and requirements.

[00115] As shown in FIG. 19, the renderer outputs separate height and direct signals to directly the respective upward-firing and direct- firing drivers. Alternatively, the renderer could output a single audio signal that is separated into height and direct components by a discrete separation or crossover circuit. In certain cases the height and direct components may not frequency dependent and an external separation circuit is used to separate the audio into height and direct sound components and route these signals to the appropriate respective drivers, where virtual height filtering would be applied to the upward firing speaker signal. In most common cases, however, the height and direct components may be frequency dependent, and the separation circuit comprises crossover circuit that separates the full- bandwidth signal into low and high (or bandpass) components for transmission to the appropriate drivers. This is often the most useful case since height cues are typically more prevalent in high frequency signals rather than low frequency signals, and for this application, a crossover circuit may be used in conjunction with or integrated in the virtual height filter component to route high frequency signals to the upward-firing driver(s) and lower frequency signals to the direct- firing driver(s).

[00116] Embodiments are directed to providing frequency response shaping of a speaker driver by the optimizing the shape and configuration of a covering grill to provide virtual height filtering functionality to an upward firing speaker transmitting sound reflected off of a ceiling of a listening room. The grill is configured to provide a desired frequency response that accentuates the perception of virtual height sound components by providing a Pinna filter response curve to the transmitted sound. The grill is designed to appropriately alter the directivity or radiation pattern of the speaker driver, and the directivity is narrowed to reinforce the bouncing of sounds off adjacent surfaces, such as the wall or floor of the listening room.

[00117] In general, the upward-firing speakers incorporating virtual height filtering grills and other passive structures as described herein can be used to reflect sound off of a hard ceiling surface to simulate the presence of overhead/height speakers positioned in the ceiling. A compelling attribute of the adaptive audio content is that the spatially diverse audio is reproduced using an array of overhead speakers. As stated above, however, in many cases, installing overhead speakers is too expensive or impractical in a home environment. By simulating height speakers using normally positioned speakers in the horizontal plane, a compelling 3D experience can be created with easy to position speakers. In this case, the adaptive audio system is using the upward-firing/height simulating drivers in a new way in that audio objects and their spatial reproduction information are being used to create the audio being reproduced by the upward-firing drivers. The built-in virtual height filtering function helps reconcile or minimize the height cues that may be transmitted directly to the listener as compared to the reflected sound so that the perception of height is properly provided by the overhead reflected signals.

[00118] In general, the upward-firing speakers incorporating virtual height filtering techniques as described herein can be used to reflect sound off of a hard ceiling surface to simulate the presence of overhead/height speakers positioned in the ceiling. A compelling attribute of the adaptive audio content is that the spatially diverse audio is reproduced using an array of overhead speakers. As stated above, however, in many cases, installing overhead speakers is too expensive or impractical in a home environment. By simulating height speakers using normally positioned speakers in the horizontal plane, a compelling 3D experience can be created with easy to position speakers. In this case, the adaptive audio system is using the upward-firing/height simulating drivers in a new way in that audio objects and their spatial reproduction information are being used to create the audio being reproduced by the upward-firing drivers. The virtual height filtering components help reconcile or minimize the height cues that may be transmitted directly to the listener as compared to the reflected sound so that the perception of height is properly provided by the overhead reflected signals.

[00119] Aspects of the systems described herein may be implemented in an appropriate computer-based sound processing network environment for processing digital or digitized audio files. Portions of the adaptive audio system may include one or more networks that comprise any desired number of individual machines, including one or more routers (not shown) that serve to buffer and route the data transmitted among the computers. Such a network may be built on various different network protocols, and may be the Internet, a Wide Area Network (WAN), a Local Area Network (LAN), or any combination thereof.

[00120] One or more of the components, blocks, processes or other functional components may be implemented through a computer program that controls execution of a processor- based computing device of the system. It should also be noted that the various functions disclosed herein may be described using any number of combinations of hardware, firmware, and/or as data and/or instructions embodied in various machine-readable or computer- readable media, in terms of their behavioral, register transfer, logic component, and/or other characteristics. Computer-readable media in which such formatted data and/or instructions may be embodied include, but are not limited to, physical (non-transitory), non-volatile storage media in various forms, such as optical, magnetic or semiconductor storage media.

[00121] Unless the context clearly requires otherwise, throughout the description and the claims, the words "comprise," "comprising," and the like are to be construed in an inclusive sense as opposed to an exclusive or exhaustive sense; that is to say, in a sense of "including, but not limited to." Words using the singular or plural number also include the plural or singular number respectively. Additionally, the words "herein," "hereunder," "above," "below," and words of similar import refer to this application as a whole and not to any particular portions of this application. When the word "or" is used in reference to a list of two or more items, that word covers all of the following interpretations of the word: any of the items in the list, all of the items in the list and any combination of the items in the list.

[00122] While one or more implementations have been described by way of example and in terms of the specific embodiments, it is to be understood that one or more implementations are not limited to the disclosed embodiments. To the contrary, it is intended to cover various modifications and similar arrangements as would be apparent to those skilled in the art. Therefore, the scope of the appended claims should be accorded the broadest interpretation so as to encompass all such modifications and similar arrangements.