Memorial Lecture at 152nd: Diemer de Vries / Wave Field Synthesis – Just A Wave … or a Durable Synthesizer in the Audio Field?

May 7-8, 2022

Diemer de Vries presented the Richard C. Heyser Memorial Lecture during the 152nd Convention:

Wave Field Synthesis – Just a Wave … or a Durable Synthesizer in the Audio Field?

In 2008, TU Delft acoustics professor Guus Berkhout in his Heyser Lecture stated that a glorious future of audio engineering could be realized by application of array technology. For sound reproduction purposes, this implied his concept of Wave Field Synthesis (WFS), first proposed in the 1980s and further developed by the Delft acoustics group to a convincing demonstration system during the following decade. Using closely spaced arrays of loudspeakers, spatial perception was enabled where, in an extended audience area, all listeners locate the sound sources at their correct positions. After several leading universities and research institutes combined their forces in the successful EU project CARROUSO (2001-2003), a glorious future for WFS seemed to be approaching indeed.

In the present Heyser Lecture 14 years later, after a summary of the principles and history of WFS a survey will be given – without claiming any completeness – of recent developments and applications. An example at hand is the WFS system in the convention venue, the Royal Conservatory of Music in The Hague. Students use it as an indispensable tool for electronic music composition. Demonstrations of the system will be given during the convention.

Has WFS conquered the audio world? Well…. at least it has obtained a recognized position!



Dr. ir DIEMER DE VRIES was born January 3, 1945 in Weststellingwerf, Friesland, The Netherlands. He got his primary and secondary education at schools in Arnhem, Heemstede and Haarlem. After receiving the gymnasium certificates, he started the Applied Physics studies at Delft University of Technology in 1963. He received his MSc degree in 1971 on a thesis on architectural acoustics. After graduation, he joined the staff of the Laboratory of (later: Seismics and) Acoustics. During his career as a university researcher, he worked on several projects in room acoustics, building acoustics and seismic signal processing. In 1984, he received a PhD degree on a thesis in the latter field. Until his retirement in January 2010 he coordinated, as an associate professor, the research on array technology-based wave field analysis and synthesis in room acoustics. By participating with his group in national and international projects (such as CARROUSO, 2001-2003) he significantly contributed to the break-through of this concept – introduced by Berkhout in the 1980s – all over the world. During the last years, he was involved in the development of new concepts for room acoustics modeling and room acoustics quality assessment.

In 1976, he was a visiting researcher at the Institut Teknologi Bandung, Indonesia, as supervisor of a NUFFIC cooperation project. From 1981 until his retirement, he also taught at the Royal Conservatory of Music in The Hague, at the department of Music Registration and Sonology. From 1985 until 1987, he combined his work at the university with a part-time consultancy function at the Institute of Applied Physics TPD-TNO. As such, he was involved in several projects in Hongkong and Macau. During the summer semester of 2001, he fulfilled the “Edgard Varese” guest professorship at TU Berlin. In 2004, he held a similar chair at TU Ilmenau (Thüringen, Germany). From 2011 until 2014 he was a part time guest professor at the Institute of Acoustics of RWTH Aachen University.

Diemer de Vries has great interest in scientific education. He participated during many years in the educational committee of the Applied Physics department. He gave many courses on acoustics, building physics and general physics, at the university and beyond, e.g., from 1986 until 2011 for the Hogere Kursus Akoestiek in Antwerp, Belgium. In later years he gave seminars on array technology at the Hochschule für Musik in Detmold, Germany, the Technical University of Valencia, Spain and the Research Labs of NHK, Tokyo, Japan.

He is past chairman of the Dutch Acoustical Association (Nederlands Akoestisch Genootschap, NAG) and of the Netherlands section of the Audio Engineering Society AES which gave him a Certificate of Appreciation in 1995. In 1999, the international AES Board of Governors gave him a Fellowship Award for his contributions to the implementation of wave field synthesis. From 2009 until 2013 he was a member of the Board of Governors of the AES, in 2010 as President. In 2019, the NAG appointed him to Honorary Member and the German Acoustical Society DEGA awarded him with the Helmholtz Medal for his contributions to room acoustics.

As a specific form of applied acoustics he plays the double bass, formerly in the Dutch National Youth Orchestra and several national student orchestras, later as principal bass in the Delft Symphony Orchestra and the The Hague Baroque Company. Nowadays he is a free-lance participant in several chamber music and jazz ensembles.

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