Sound architecture

The architecture of the sound reproduction system for immersound events is consistent and evolutive in its design and tuning. Two of its design signatures are on one hand, the attention to the qualities of silence, and on the other, the extended sound preparation and installation periods, where curator, artists and sound engineer are engaged in conversations and experimentation with the system, the musical composition and the space.

The system is a 6.1 surround immersive installation with small stereo speakers added on the ceiling for “shower” audio effects. We use high quality mastering-grade full-range active studio monitors or smallish active sound reinforcement speakers. This design approach permits almost zero processing, very little EQing is done to the sound system, in relation to careful speaker arrangement positioned according to room geometries and their resonant properties and modes.

 We are investing in the direct sound coming from the 6.1 arrays placed close to the listeners, a full-bodied, balanced, solid and delicately detailed sound. The “spatialization” is accomplished with distributed mono or stereo elements and/or discrete audio channels, according to the artist’s needs. We use a circular isotropic floor arrangement for the speakers with an equidistant placement on the azimuth plane at every 60 degrees. The audience is comfortably lying on the floor on small mattresses; the speakers are at about 4 feet from the floor tilted toward the listener’s heads at about 14 degrees.

Although the speaker array is totally symmetrical, we enjoy multiple phenomena of floor to ceiling reflections. The presence of the mattresses and bodies on the floor create subtle variations in the sound absorptions and reflections of sound sources in the composed musical program, creating singular and individualized listening experiences for the audience.

More so, the “spatialization” is done organically on site by the artists and/or the sound engineer at the console, but thanks to the nature of this setup, audio sources are also from time to time, moving on their own and appearing in directions outside of the azimuthal plane which enriches the experience tremendously.

Stéphane Claude, Sound engineer and architect