Thibaut Carpentier, Laureate of the CNRS 2018 Cristal Medal

Conception, development, and diffusion of innovative digital-audio systems for sound spatialization

The STMS Lab has the great pleasure of announcing the work carried out by Thibaut Carpentier, research engineer in the Acoustic and Cognitive Spaces team since 2009, has been awarded the CNRS Cristal Medal. The tools he has developed and disseminated are a vitrine for the technology of the team, and of the entire laboratory. Their exceptional impact on artistic, scientific, and industrial communities has made a vital contribution to the excellence of our laboratory.


Sound spatialization covers a range of techniques for the capture, reproduction or synthesis of the spatial dimensions of a sound space. They aim to create and multiply 3D soundscapes, giving the illusion of sonic events coming from specific directions, thus designing the acoustic signature of an environment. Today, these techniques are experiencing a major boom. Staging sounds in space has become an inescapable aspect of contemporary musical creation. The addition of a spatialized sonic component is also important in the industries of film, video gaming, and virtual or augmented reality applications to enhance the realism and the listener’s sensation of immersion.

This scientific topic is the research field of Thibaut’s team—Acoustic and Cognitive Spaces—in our laboratory. Numerous fundamental advances have been made in the past 15 years. Thibaut has contributed in reducing, internationally, the massive gap between the understanding of parameters relevant for spatialized sound and the operational use of this knowledge in applications for the general public by developing computer tools that make it possible to place and move sound sources arbitrarily, in any direction, and to create or recreate an effective and expressive 3D soundscape.


Thibaut arrived at IRCAM in 2009 and is the lead developer and head of the SPAT project as well as the  3D mixing and post-production workstation Panoramix. Initially developed as research platforms integrating and validating the latest advances, they proved their level of quality and maturity in notable contemporary musical creations responding to demands concerning spatialized sound from an entire community of artists and creatives.

The systems developed by Thibaut have attracted a lot of interest in the international professional audio engineering community and have received several awards (best plug-in Resolution Awards 2011, RockoN Tech Award at the NAMM Show 2017, Prix du Public at SATIS 2017 in the post-production category).

Today, these innovative tools are widely distributed internationally (15,000 downloads since 2014) and used in several digital-audio production studios (France Télévisions, BBC, Radio France, Salzburg Festival, etc.). In response to a broad range of broadcasting formats and uses, they have led to several licenses or collaborative development with companies in France and abroad (Arkamys, L-Acoustics, Flux, Univers Sons, Orange Labs, etc.). These libraries have also been used in the fields of neuroscience and health: spatial cognition in microgravity (zero-G flights) and treating tinnitus (Hôpital Georges Pompidou)


It is difficult to understand the variety of skills Thibaut brought together in this “success story”: expertise in software engineering, signal processing, physical acoustics, psycho-acoustics, real-time computing, music… The tools he designed and developed have made it possible to abstract complexity from 3D sound restitution formats. The standards he helped to craft make it possible for different systems to communicate today. The techniques for filtering time-frequency-space applied to reverberation enable more realistic sound renderings. The technical quality of his productions makes it possible to manipulate several hundred audio channels without difficulty using a personal computer, meeting the needs of today’s most demanding artists.

Photo: Studio 1 © Philippe Barbosa



Thibaut Carpentier

Thibaut Carpentier studied acoustics at the École centrale and signal processing at Télécom ParisTech, before joining the CNRS as a research engineer. Since 2009, he has been a member of the Acoustic and Cognitive Spaces team in the STMS Lab (Sciences and Technologies of Music and Sound) at IRCAM.

His work focuses on sound spatialization, artificial reverberation, room acoustics, and computer tools for 3D composition and mixing. He is the lead developer and head of the SPAT project as well as the 3D mixing and post-production workstation Panoramix.