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Surround Sound for Exhibition

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Surround Sound for Exhibition

Postby Bob Bickerton » Sun Jul 14, 2019 8:19 am

I'm about (it would seem) delve into a brave new world in the form of surround sound for video and audio playback during a collaborative art exhibition.

In my previous work I've only used stereo playback and you can get an idea of the nature of the work here: https://vimeo.com/bobbickerton/ngahaungakau

The exhibition space will be relatively small - I need to get exact dimensions - but think probably no more than 10 metres square.

I'm thinking something based around 5 outputs, maybe 6, so think 5.1 but probably not a sub as the music doesn't really require that. I might even revert to quadraphonic!!!!!!

Levels will be slightly above conversation level, maybe 60dB - 65dB SPL - but with reasonable headroom.

The concept is that sound elements will emanate from the projected video and travel around the room, or even be 'painting specific' within the space (there will be around 7 paintings in the exhibition).

I thought I'd put it out to the 'crowd' for feedback. I'm using Logic and though I haven't previously used its surround sound mixing capability, it shouldn't be a problem.

My thoughts are to buy 5 x monitor speakers, though there will be pressure on the budget in this regard. Surfing around some options, I'd be looking at something like 5 x Presonus Eris E8s, which seem to have reasonable reviews and useful bass extension. Any suggestions within a similar budget range would be appreciated.

Of course I will have utterly no control over the acoustics of the space (which I haven't yet viewed) but the E8s apparently have some EQ adjustment, which may or may not be useful.

I'm also looking for a playback device that can do video and 5.1 audio, preferably playing back off some sort of solid state media rather than disc and also with the ability to automatically repeat the file.

As I said to my very good artist friend; a 10 minute creative conversation with him and weeks of my life disappear! But what else would I want to do.......

This is something of a pilot and so other projects may follow, which is exciting. If it goes ahead I'll buy rather than hire as the exhibition will run for several weeks and having a few spare monitors will be handy anyway (and anyway, I'd like to mix on the speakers that will be used for playback.)

As always I will very much appreciate suggestions from the team.

Bob
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Re: Surround Sound for Exhibition

Postby cyrano.mac » Sun Jul 14, 2019 3:45 pm

I suppose you'll be just panning stereo sources in a 2D space?

If not, read up about ambisonics. 1st order ambi recording is done with a 4 channel mic like the Soundfield. There are offerings from Nevaton, Sennheiser, Zylia, Rode, Core Audio and a few others these days. Alternatively, 2 cardio's, coupled to two figure of eights can be used too, but that's rather more complicated as these things should be calibrated to work with the ambi software out there. For 2nd order, you need 8 mics, 3rd order 16. Each higher order will render better positioning information.

If you just want panning in 2D, a quadro setup should be perfect. I really don't see where the fifth speaker would go, unless you'd want a "voice of god" effect. If you want a 3D space, eight speakers are the minimum. 1st order ambisonics could be the perfect way to get started for you, after listening to your work.

I've done a small number of projects that use ambi sound and 10 square meters seems a bit on the small side. You really need some space around the speakers to develop an image, especially as you -might- want to compensate for an almost empty room to a room filled with viewers.

There are also numerous variations, as ambi is incredibly flexible. You could fi effortlessly create a headphone-stereo output from your ambisonic original. Or a 5.1 or... Just need the right set of plugins. A good one, for starters, is the Ambisonic Toolkit (ATK), aimed at Reaper, but also working with a few other DAWs.

http://www.ambisonictoolkit.net/

If you're going to experiment with this, you probably need to use Reaper or Nuendo as a DAW. None of the others are ambisonic aware.

You don't really need expensive monitor speakers, as long as they're good/identical sounding speakers. I'm using KEF Coda 7s atm, for smaller projects, with a B&W sub if needed. You do need a good room, though. You -might- want a multi-channel EQ of some sorts, to compensate for room acoustics.
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Re: Surround Sound for Exhibition

Postby ConcertinaChap » Sun Jul 14, 2019 4:35 pm

@cyrano.mac. Unfortunately you can't do anything higher than first order ambisonics with Logic (or indeed most DAWs), it's multi channel stuff is quite limited in that respect. That's why Zylia (which is third order) only recommend Reaper. OTOH it works very well with first order.

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Re: Surround Sound for Exhibition

Postby Bob Bickerton » Sun Jul 14, 2019 7:33 pm

Thanks all. Just discovered Hugh’s series of articles on surround sound - time for a read.

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Re: Surround Sound for Exhibition

Postby blinddrew » Sun Jul 14, 2019 7:46 pm

Just to clarify, are we talking about 10 square meters or 10 meters squared?
10m2 or 100m2?
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Re: Surround Sound for Exhibition

Postby Bob Bickerton » Sun Jul 14, 2019 7:58 pm

blinddrew wrote:Just to clarify, are we talking about 10 square meters or 10 meters squared?
10m2 or 100m2?

10 metres squared - 100m2

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Re: Surround Sound for Exhibition

Postby blinddrew » Sun Jul 14, 2019 9:36 pm

:thumbup:
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Re: Surround Sound for Exhibition

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Mon Jul 15, 2019 2:56 pm

In a room with 10m walls, I fear your idea of just 4 or 5 channels might not be enough if you want sounds to move convincingly around the space. You'll be relying on phantom image placements across large spaces and that's just not going to work with people positioned randomly in the room. I would suggest you will need rather more speakers closer together so that sound sources move in a more reliable and predictable way regardless of where people are standing relative to the speakers.

I'm not sure what the sound content is, but I think it's probably best to go with several small speakers (even simple in-car dual drivers etc mounted in the walls) for the positional sounds, with a couple of subwoofers to carry the summed (non-directional) low end.

As for the playback gear, I think i'd be looking at a tablet of some sort for the video with timecode recorded on the audio track, and separate audio on something like the MixPre10T synchronised to it. That would five you enough audio tracks, anyway...

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