GEAR. IMMERSIVE AUDIO
T he ancient Greeks knew a thing or two about culture, and they were well up for a bit of live entertainment. Two and a half thousand years later and we still can’t get enough of it. Live entertainment satisfies a basic human requirement for connection. It not only provides a link with the subject, but a bond with other people at the event; we’re all in it together. But what if there was a way to amplify that connection? Venues all around the world are discovering how audio can provide more value to talks, installations and live events than visual elements alone – and technology is providing the toolkits to augment that. Object-based audio (OBA) is the key. OBA treats an audio component – such as a microphone, an instrument or even a full mix – as an independent object, rather than an input channel to be combined with others to create a conventional, stage-front mix. Objects can be defined as occupying any given position in any given space, and combined with other objects in countless creative ways. This was definitely a theme at this year’s ISE in Barcelona, where audio companies like Coda Audio, Holoplot and d&b Audiotechnik used valuable demo space to focus on how their creative tools and technologies can exploit this shift. Each illustrated how the move from traditional stereo arrays to more nuanced OBA approaches opens an audience’s eyes – and ears – to new possibilities. SOUND UNWRAPPED This isn’t lost on sound engineer Gerardo Marrone. His series of Sound Unwrapped events at London’s Kings Place are designed to push these boundaries as far as they will go. In collaboration with d&b Audiotechnik, Gerry is working with an eclectic range of artists to explore spatial dimensions in live performances. “We’ve been listening to events in the same way for so long that people don’t have the vocabulary to describe how it feels to be embraced by the sound,” he says. “There has always been a sensory
conflict between what you see and what you hear, but the development of object-based systems allows the natural coherency of sound and vision to be achieved – and on a much larger scale. “It means the focus of the performance no longer has to be on the stage and can provide an intimate connection between the art and the people it’s created for. The audience becomes part of the performance and not just a witness to it.” STICK YOUR TECH OUT The technology Gerry uses to create these environments is d&b Soundscape. Products like this enable sound designers to create a sonic environment in any given space. When we talk about immersion, we’re not just talking 360° sound. We’re talking immersion in the environment, losing the technology and getting lost in the moment.
“A channel-based approach requires everything to be predetermined and placed into two channels, but an object- based route makes everything more flexible,” says d&b Soundscape business development manager Adam Hockley. “For example, a string quartet may want a subtle, natural reinforcement to make it seem as if there is no amplification at all, which would be impossible in “We’ve been listening to events in the same way for so long that people can’t even describe how it feels to be embraced by the sound”
MULTI-SOURCE MODULES The modular Holoplot X1 Matrix Array can emit 12 separate sound beams per array
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