Soundscape In Immersive Time Warp
Naquyo artists harness d&b in ambient sound art performance
World renowned ambient composer Kazuya Nagaya and musician Katsuhiko Orii collaborated with the d&b audiotechnik Yokohama team to design a d&b Soundscape system that would enable them to perform pre-recorded and live triggered sounds and place them with pinpoint accuracy for an audience sitting on the stage within a 360° sound field. d&b’s Soundscape technology and T10 loudspeakers comprised the core sound system for an inspired, immersive audio performance at Kyoto’s Rohm Theatre in December, fundamentally informing the creation of a piece by the Naquyo sound artist collective. Their aim was to recreate the sounds of Heian-kyō – the former name of what is now Kyoto –1,200 years in the past, transporting the audience to a bygone era as part of The Naquyo – The Visionary Universe of Heian-kyō live performance, which also featured audiovisual artist, Junichi Akagawa, and dancer, Kou Yamamoto (nouseskou).
At the heart of the d&b Soundscape system was the DS100 Signal Engine, the audio system based on a Dante-enabled signal matrix. The capabilities of d&b Soundscape altered the audio artists’ creative approach, using the two Soundscape software modules – sound object positioning tool En-Scene and in-line room emulation tool En-Space. “En-Space is excellent; it allows the artist to concentrate more on the production,” says Akagawa-san. “In the traditional combination of stage and audience, there is a clear separation between the audience and the performers. But this time, although we were the performers, the sounds we heard, the images we saw and the atmosphere we felt were exactly the same as the audience.”
Nagaya-san adds, “Working with En-Scene was a new experience. The whole sound design process was very simple – no boosting on the bandwidth, HF tweaks or low cut on the channels thanks to the quality of the loudspeakers. Object positioning was tricky to start with, but I had great advice from Soundscape users. It was a learning journey and ended up working brilliantly. In fact, I cannot go back to producing on an L-R system anymore.”
Selected sounds were also programmed to dancer Kou Yamamoto – aka nouseskou’s – movements, tracked via four sensors on his wrists and ankles. “The natural coherency of the sounds between the loudspeakers when the sound objects moved, and the natural reverb created by En-Space and the ease of OSC integration with other equipment, was noted,” says Kawamoto-san.
The main loudspeaker system consisted of 16 d&b T-Series T10 2-way loudspeakers with 2×6.5-inch drivers and a 1.4-inch exit compression driver, used in a point source configuration. These were evenly spaced around the audience. In addition, four T10s were hung as ceiling speakers. The subwoofers were d&b V-Series V-SUB 18-inch cardioid subwoofers, one on each of the four sides. These were driven by d&b D20 four-channel amplifiers, and the team also used two DS10 Dante–AES/EBU audio network bridges. The loudspeaker and subwoofer system was chosen with the guidance of Japanese d&b rental house, Treasure Island Corporation. “We wanted to use the same model of speakers for all positions due to the nature of the performance, and we chose the T10 because of its small size and power,” says TIC’s Kawamoto-san. “The V-SUBs were chosen because we wanted to reproduce a natural low end in line with the composer’s expectations.”
Augmenting the experience was a lighting design that complemented the soundscape and sound triggers, and visuals via four large screens hung to emulate the north, south, east and west of old Kyoto. Naquyo – The Visionary Universe of Heian-kyō was staged as a collaboration between Mutek Japan and the Kyoto Steam World Cultural Exchange Festival, and produced with the support of Uryuyama Gakuen Kyoto University of the Arts Department of Historical Heritage.
“Technology is an indispensable tool to explore the value of AV content and to constantly evolve,” says Shuichiro Iwanami, General Director of Mutek Japan. “The fusion of music and technology creates new possibilities for expression and the creation of valuable new experiences. d&b Soundscape allows you to ‘feel’ and ‘see’ sound as it unfolds before your eyes and offers a completely new sonic experience. We believe that by artists having access to this system, we can create a new attraction for digital music and art creativity.”