The mathematics of 3D sound is quite elementary, as we will see below. The hard part of the theory of practical systems typically lies in the mathematical approximation to the ideal case. Examples include Ambisonics  and wave field synthesis .
Consider a point source at position . Then the acoustic complex amplitude at position is given by
where denotes the complex amplitude one meter from the point source in any direction, and denotes the wavenumber (spatial radian frequency). Distributed acoustic sources are handled as a superposition of point sources, so the point source is a completely general building block for all types of sources in linear acoustics.
The fundamental approximation problem in 3D sound is to approximate the complex acoustic field at one or more listening points using a finite set of loudspeakers, which are often modeled as a point source for each speaker.