FEATURE: The live audio revolution
Barco Did This First – IOSONO Core is Ready Now
Researching S.A. (Spatial Audio) I came across the Barco IOSONO and immediately wondered why I had not heard of it earlier. On paper it does everything the new L-Acoustics and d&b products do. Plus, it has had various implementations on shows and in venues.
Amazingly it transpires a local demonstration studio exists in North Sydney, not far from me so I went over for an audition.
Des O’Neill is the local representative, he fronts Sound & Motion, a company that specializes in delivering spatial audio on projects both locally and overseas, who discovered IOSONO because, in his words, he and his colleagues are a bunch of committed soundies who come at things from a technical excellence perspective.
At the demo theatre, a loud speaker array consisting of 32 Tannoy monitors are positioned around the listening area in 3 speaker layers, a horizontal layer, overhead layer and a subwoofer layer. At first I thought this was going to be a ‘surround sound’ demonstration, which was intended to illustrate the difference between the IOSONO Core and the other systems, however Des stopped and reset the system so it did what the two new European spatial audio systems do. Des showed me some interesting things, like where he can place sound where there is no actual loudspeaker. He explained the algorithm, but I didn’t have the right mind to understand. I just listened, and it was impressive.
Des demonstrated true 3D sound with vertical panning by moving a source, and a group of sources, up, down and left to right, using just the front (stage) line of Tannoys.
The IOSONO Core has 128 input and/or output channels, and has been on the market since 2010 which indicates it is ‘battle hardened’.Unlike the two big Europeans, the IOSONO system is loudspeaker agnostic, meaning you can use anything you like. This should really kick start sales of the IOSONO Core as spatial audio becomes more commonplace and once the marketing kicks in with the European systems and the demand rises. As written elsewhere, until you hear one of these S.A. systems, you don’t quite get it.
We’ve heard from various people who have been to a demo and seen the lights go on, so to speak, as performers and designers twig to the possibilities. One side benefit that L-Acoustics discovered while working with various designers in the beta rollout is that with five or more speaker systems, the overall mix is a little quieter, and the apparent transparency and performance of the overall sound is appreciably better. This is in part because instead of everything getting mixed through one giant PA (per side of stage), various instruments or sources are spread around so that no one PA (loudspeaker) is tasked to handle everything.
IOSONO also has Spatial Audio Workstation, a VST plugin for content creation and delivery of object based 3D sound files. It’s a powerful product, and we can’t see why it shouldn’t be considered the third contender in this new (but not new for Barco) market segment.
This article first appeared in the print edition of CX Magazine December 2017 as part of a special feature The live audio revolution pp.14-27 which included:
The Revolution has arrived: Spatial audio mixing – 3D Sound for the Stage
L-Acoustics factory tour
d&b factory tour