The Role of Scalable Sound – Acoustic Zoom

Our sound ranges from ambient music in the background to the majestic impact of a full blown orchestra. The ladder perception greatly depends on the equipment we bring and the locations we can use for speaker placement. We offer you managed and scalable sound. By scalable we do not mean loudness as our music is not ment to be too loud or offensive to the ear. By scalable we mean how wide we zoom up the instruments, sounds and voices in the given room.

Instruments that are zoomed to much larger dimensions than the human body tend to impress by their sheer perceived size. So, a concert with managed and scaled sound is a magnificent experience. Instruments may fill up the whole room hulling the audience into majestic wave fields which is a true sound adventure on its own.

Virtuose play, emotional expression, the feeling of experiencing "room-size" instruments and getting hulled in widely aligned wave fields can truly make the listener a witness of something bigger. For this, we have excellent higher end sound equipment available.

Take a drum kit as an example.

A drum kit may be played acoustically, i.e. without using microphones in the corner or at one end of a room. Let us say that the drum kit is on average a 2x2x1m source of sound. If the kit is about 12m away from you and if you then stretch your arm in front of you, then the size of your hand will probably be able to block your vision of the kit completely. So, at that distance the largest instrument, the drum kit, has diminished to the size of your hand. It has become a point source of sonic waves.

With increasing distance every instrument is reduced to a point source of sonic waves.

Of its 360 degree sound field only 2.6 percent at best may then reach you directly if direct vision is maintained. 97.4 percent however will come in form of diffuse sound reflections from surrounding surfaces such as walls, ceilings or other objects.

Sound travels at a speed of 340m/sec. At a distance of 12m it takes 35msec for the wave to reach you directly. Reflected sound, which has approx. 97.4 percent sonic impact, may take much longer to reach you. The effect is, that at our remote distance you will experience a mix of many differently reflected and thus differently delayed waves. You'll experience a superposition of wave trains forming unaligned wave fronts. These wave trains interfere at any given location in your room. By interference the sound will loose its spectral integrity. Frequencies will cancel out and the sound becomes coloured (comb filter effect).

By delay and lack of wave front alignment it will loose its definition. The higher the ceiling or the wider the room is, the larger the delays of superposed waves are at your hearing position and the less definition in the sound you will generally experience.

So, at a 12m distance from the kit

  • 97.4 percent of the sound has been affected by spectral loss,
  • 97.4 percent of the sound has been affected by lack of definition,
  • the kit has shrunk to the physical size of your hand.

However impressive the performance of an artist may be under such circumstances, the transmission of sound may and usually does greatly diminish its impressive impact on the audience. The further away the listener is, the worse such far-field acoustics become. However, there is a "too close to the drum kit" as well, since this instrument often is perceived as too loud in its close proximity. For both cases, however, too close or too far away, there is a solution.

Rooms, as unique as their geometry and furniture usually is, each have a unique, via reflections mostly negative effect on the sound experience of the audience. Fortunately, there are ways to minimize or overcome these "room effects". Here comes our managed and scalable sound into play.

We do take great care in reducing room effects via dedicated sound installations. A drum kit will not loose its size, if its sound field is being zoomed up in the room. Zooming up the kit and diminishing the effect of room reflections, requires

  1. microphoning the kit's skins (microphones essentially function as sonic microscopes),
  2. distributing the kit's signals to loudspeakers which are geometrically much wider apart than the kit,
  3. bringing direct non-reflected sound to the audience via apropriately distributed speaker cabinets.

Instead of listening to the reflections of a remote point source of sonic waves somewhere in the room, as it would be the case with purely acoustical or monitor-based performance in front of an extended audience, the listener will then have the ear (microphone) directly at every drum skin without the loudness or discomfort involved in physically doing so.

With such near-field acoustics, detail and definition, clarity and full spectrum as well as zoomable instrument size are guaranteed and won't be lost. The drums may appear to grow as large as the room is, which sonically positions the listener right between or even into the drums of the kit.

Anything said about the drum kit can be equally applied to any other instrument or performer. With microphones and systems in place, subtle variations get uncovered and amplified to hearable levels.

Good and well positioned microphones are tone and sound microscopes.

Sound notion becomes intimate and rich in detail. Your ear is close to the singer's lips, two fingers away from each of the drum skins, right above the piano's chords and the bass's strings.

In a way you are then having a very close rendezvous with each of the artists or instruments. Acoustically pure and direct.

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