By Graham Hendry
THE EMOTION OF AUDIO
PART 2 : ADDING THE RIGHT TOOLS TO THE TOOLKIT
the last issue , we explored why it ’ s so important to think of sound offerings for venues as a qualitative equation . Further , we discussed how critical it is to work with partners in the audio world who are introducing innovative and impressive sound solutions . Now , let ’ s look at specific technologies that benefit live performance venue clients .
When specifying the correct sound solution for the environment , there are different methodologies for choosing loudspeaker technologies , as each offers varying specifications . First , what ’ s the shape of the space ? Are there reflections , overhangs , difficult reverberations , and / or background noise to deal with ? How large will the audience be ? Will there be live music or recorded , and will spoken word be incorporated ? With these considerations in mind , perhaps a pointsource or a line array solution is needed . Is the space looking to deliver an immersive experience ? Perhaps digital beam steering or even an immersive multi-channel system should be considered .
The purpose of beam steering technology is to focus and direct a beam of sound such that it can be given a required vertical direction and intensity . This is software controlled and will achieve optimal venue coverage and a direct / reverberant ratio for improved clarity and speech intelligibility . The sound can be directed with precision and away from reflective surfaces or away from areas not in use .
Powerful , integrated DSP allows the system to be optimally tuned for each specific space and is easily modified and adjusted for specific performances or varying audience layouts . This can occur without ever having to physically focus the column itself — everything is handled digitally .
Digital beam steering technology also enables a smooth dispersion of sound across a room , with SPL evenly distributed from the front to the back . The sound system can also be easily reconfigured by calling up various presets to instantly adjust to performance type , audience size , and configuration .
More importantly , these solutions enable you to target traditional dead zones for audio in a space , offering a better experience for every seat in the house .
Remember the Equation Digital beam steering enables quick-toinstall , easy-to-fine-tune , and impressive immersive soundscapes . This , of course , allows the audience to connect more directly with a performance , and this connection is key to the equation we discussed in the last issue : the totality of the elements in a physical space that enhance the performance — from the sound to the lighting , to the architecture .
We briefly mentioned that there is also a quantitative equation to making a venue memorable . The same is true regarding a sound system . The end product , however , needs to be the same for both formulas : how the performance sounds and feels to the audience .
The truth is that there is no true and definitive quantitative measure of “ how good ” sound is . There are methodologies to measure how linear a system can be or how intelligible . After that , it all comes down to perception .
Thus , working with manufacturers in the live performance space who can demonstrate past success in live events , offer application support and on-site demos of their systems , provide security and allow clients to hear how a system will sound before they commit to a purchase .
Further , you must ensure the manufacturer is considering the aesthetics of your client ’ s space . Manufacturers cannot just sell products . The truly professional firms
will help you work with the architectural elements of a venue and custom design speaker arrays — from colour to form factor — to meet the needs of you and your client .
Now , this is not all quantitative . We can ’ t simply work off our data sheets . We must work within partnerships that allow for software upgrades in the near term and support in the long term . This allows for a chain of confidence to be provided to all partners .
Reconnecting to Emotion Bottom line , audiences are more demanding of AV in the live performance space after two years at home . They have become accustomed to high-quality AV inside their living rooms — and we must wow them to convert them into return customers . That ’ s a challenge , to be sure , but integrators and manufacturers play a key role in helping performance spaces meet that challenge .
The compelling content won ’ t be a problem to achieve — after all , this is one of the most creative industries taking part in the human experience ! And , if we all work to ensure we are partnering collaboratively with the correct system designers , integrators , and manufacturers , we make certain the on-site technology supports the artistic craft in a way that will impress the entire audience .
Graham Hendry is the Vice President of Strategic Development at Renkus-Heinz .
56 PROFESSIONAL SOUND