Last Wednesday I was driven an hour out of Paris to visit L-Acoustics, where I saw their L-ISA demo in a purpose built demo venue (Main picture). It’s fair to say it was a defining moment, they day that I could see and hear how immersive audio would next change concert and theatre sound.
That day I decided stereo was obsolete, since the new order has at least five speaker systems across the top of a stage. Into which you send anything. The mixing console firms are now officially ‘disrupted’. You read that right.
On Friday I flew to Stuttgart Germany, and was driven 40 minutes to d&b audiotechnik where I saw The d&b Soundscape – again in a specific venue they created. Which is the same general idea: put five or more systems across the top of a stage (and use little front fills too) and send different audio to all of them. (Pictured: a Soundscape presentation)
After touring both factories, I saw two audio firms from Europe travelling similar but different pathways. They were both candid, taking about where they came from and where they will go. I got the data on employee numbers, shifts, and output.
The whole story will roll out ahead of the big launches – both have demonstrated their systems, and both have installations and arena tours about to debut. It’s fair to say that left – centre – right audio systems are now somewhat redundant, depending on application.
There’s a lot more to this, because it crosses over into what was, until now, a goldmine for Meyer Sound whose cleverly named Constellation system is installed worldwide in venues that use immersive audio in a slightly different way.
One thing is for sure – the way we experience top end performance audio is about to change, and for good. This will also make winners and losers since artists, venues, and audiences will soon start to demand to be in what I call ‘The Zone’.
There’s a lot of new thinking ahead. Theatre sound can now ‘track’ a performer across a stage. Dance music producers can unleash themselves and do things that are amazing. Some of the adjectives that I penned last week include mesmerising, immersive, and that hoary old chestnut, ‘Game Changing’.
Part of the ‘big picture’ is the way these firms will sell their systems. It promises to start something that will have the landscape of pro audio looking radically different in five years from now.
While it is clearly going to mean more speaker systems going into a venue, it should also mean in increase in audio budgets – at installation, and also at touring production level.
There is also no ‘one use’ for these technologies – you can expect to see them deployed in every kind of venue – including house of worship.
While at it, I also saw some cool audio developments from both these firms. I’ll expand on these as we head towards the December edition of CX and or course ENTECH Roadshow next summer – where all this will be a hot topic.