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Spatial Audio: Astro Spatial comes of age

Astro SPATIALs

2018 will be notable for the rollout of 3D Spatial Audio systems across installations, theatre and live concerts with L-Acoustics and d&b audiotechnik set to do battle at close quarters.

While the big Europeans have integrated SA systems entering the market now, Barco’s Isono and Dutch brand Astro Spatial Audio offer stand alone processors that are loudspeaker agnostic.

Astro Spatial have been on the market quite a while, says director Bjorn Van Munster. He has struggled to win large sales due to misunderstandings about object based audio. But the big Europeans are lifting the profile of 3D live sound, and he can see considerably more interest in Astro.

“My demo at exhibitions is pretty similar to d&b” he told CX.

“There are challenges, especially short latency. My system is 5milliseconds or lower. The maximum system allowable is 10ms – and that is microphone to speaker. Every device in the chain adds time, including the wireless microphones”.

But this does not seem to be worrying anyone now.

Bjorn says the room enhancement systems like Lara and Meyer’s Constellation can confuse the market – the RE system does a completely different job to the SA system.

“Picture yourself at front of house during a live performance, mixing audio not by pushing the faders of a console, but by simply moving your fingertips in space. Each reproduced sound, no longer trapped in a rigid signal path from desk to loudspeaker, now moves seamlessly through all three dimensions. It is as if the venue is filled with bubbles, each containing a strand of your mix, and as your fingers move across a touchscreen, so the bubbles move through the venue”. Bjorn waxes lyrically.

“With my system we guarantee 5ms latency, and that includes the DSP processing. We have 5ms if you use my EQ. All the objects are rendered and recalculated 40 times a second.”

Astro have just released Stagetracker 2, a 3D tracker for performers that integrates with their processor to send the sound where the person is.

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