Immersive audio was the unequivocally hottest topic at AES New York, and both long-established companies and newly-formed ones were all touting their latest offerings to appeal to immersive sound aficionados.
Audeze has been making waves of late with its MM Series headphones, designed in collaboration with engineer/producer Manny Marroquin (Kendrick Lamar, Imagine Dragons, Lizzo, Post Malone). Touting their professional sound quality as the reason for his decision to use Audeze headphones for mixing a number of his hit records, Marroquin’s reputation has raised the company’s profile among audio professionals outside of its original audiophile demographic.
In a savvy presentation designed to appeal to both the pro audio and audiophile camps, Audeze opted to showcase the immersive sound-translation capabilities of their headphones. To conduct this audition, they tapped immersive audio’s “power couple”: multiple Grammy Award winning producers/engineers Jim Anderson and Ulrike Schwarz (featured in Copper Issues 156 – 159, and 181 – 182) to demonstrate Audeze headphones’ immersive qualities with cuts they had produced and/or engineered by singer/songwriter Nataly Dawn and Afro-Latin jazz bandleader Arturo O’Farrill.
It takes concentration to listen critically: Copper's John Seetoo, Jim Anderson, and Ulrike Schwarz listen at the Audeze booth.
Nataly Dawn’s intimate songs placed the listener almost in a living room type of atmosphere, where every subtle nuance sounded clearly as if it were right beside you.
Arturo O’Farrill’s fiery big band jazz orchestra captured the live excitement in the room (Jim Anderson confirmed that there were no overdubs) as the complex arrangements and percussion set the stage for the dialogues between singers and horn soloists.
The wonderful audio imagery and surround reproduction of the Audeze headphones did not disappoint, and definitely impressed some of the headphone-oriented DIY producers and engineers at the listening stations.
Meyer Sound (see the Copper interviews with founder John Meyer in Issues 99, 100 and 101), best known for their complex audio installations in theaters, arenas and outdoor festivals around the globe, have been on the hardware cutting edge for decades. Their latest loudspeakers offer expanded power handling and frequency range while reducing size and weight. Their showroom speaker arrays were arranged in a surround-sound immersive audio configuration with noticeably smaller speakers than in past years.
Their new 2100-LFC subwoofer is rated at a whopping 8,000 peak watts with a single 21-inch driver delivering 35 – 125 Hz frequency response (a 35 percent power increase over its previous 2 x 18-inch units) and a 20 percent weight reduction for greater options in rigging and placement. The air pumped from this relatively innocuously-sized subwoofer felt like what could only be described as a gut punch.
Meyer Sound’s new ULTRA-X20 is a nearly bookshelf speaker-sized version of their popular ULTRA-X40. With a pair of 5-inch cone drivers, a 2-inch compression driver for the highs, and a rotatable horn, the ULTRA-X20’s only sacrifice is its footprint; the sound coverage spread is impressively wide, and makes for an optimal immersive speaker choice for any venue.
While Meyer Sound’s state-of-the-art live music equipment has been the cornerstone of its reputation, software has become an important component. Meyer Sound impressively showcased its latest software offering (released on October 27) designed specifically for immersive audio mixing: Spacemap Go.
Spacemap Go is an iPad free app or plugin designed for ergonomic manipulation of Meyer’s Galileo GALAXY network platform. Instead of the need to create algorithms to select or change the directionality and sources of audio within a space, Spacemap Go reduces that task to mouse or touchscreen swipes that instantaneously react and trigger the required changes. Creating swirling cascades, ping pong effects, and almost any imaginable pattern of sound direction can be directed with childlike simplicity by using Spacemap Go.
While Spacemap Go is unique to the Galileo GALAXY network, its extreme ease of use can certainly make a case for choosing Meyer Sound systems for touring and venue installations over their rivals in the market. The platform is also an indicator of where immersive mixing is headed – toward simpler and easier user interfaces. Spacemap Go is currently being used with the GALAXY platform on the Meyer Sound-equipped Metallica M72 world tour.
While Meyer Sound’s Spacemap Go is certainly an impressive software resource for using the Galileo GALAXY platform, the need for software applications in designing immersive sound environments that can accommodate other manufacturers’ equipment, or even a mix of brands, was certainly something that could be anticipated. Treble Technologies proved to be one of the few companies that were already in that equation.
Based in Reykjavik, Iceland, Treble Technologies is a relatively new software-based company specializing in spatial analysis and sonic simulation. Founded in 2020 by acoustic engineers Dr. Finnur Pind and Jesper Pederson, they have poured their years of acoustic studies and sound simulation into a cloud-based audio analytics software that is product and brand agnostic and, in fact, includes an ever-expanding database of audio equipment from many manufacturers that can be plugged into Treble Technologies’ analyzation algorithm for comparison purposes.
In a conversation with Finnur, he explained that the Treble Acoustics Simulation Suite software is designed to calculate and determine optimum speaker placement configurations for any kind of acoustic space, once the relevant parameters were entered into the appropriate categories. These parameters would include: room dimensions, construction materials (i.e., wood, stone, et al), and equipment specs such as speaker models, number of units, amplifiers, and other criteria. Additionally, a user can also determine the amount of reverberation and delay they might want from the room alone prior to adding any digital sound processing outboard equipment.
Diagrams of Treble Technologies' Acoustic Simulation Suite. Courtesy of Treble Technologies.
As it is cloud-based, Treble’s software can be used on any compatible laptop, and the database is constantly being updated to add more equipment and its specs. As a result, a touring front of house engineer targeting a consistency in sound from venue to venue could find the Acoustics Simulation Suite a very useful tool, since the room and equipment configurations of every arena, theater or nightclub will vary widely.
The range of applications certainly includes but is not limited to pro audio. Commercial building architects, automobile sound system designers, audio equipment manufacturers, AI developers, and people involved in other types of design work involving audio may also find such software to be extremely useful.
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Here's a fantastic home or remote recording and mixing setup, courtesy of Empirical Labs Inc., makers of hardware and software audio processing equipment.
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Studio Float Isorafts are soundproofing and decoupling devices that facilitate the construction of sound-isolated rooms.
Header image: at the Augspurger booth, courtesy of Harris Fogel. All other images courtesy of Frank Doris.