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Theatre Sound Design, Show Control & Audio Engine Software

It all started with Universal Studios' WaterWorld theme park stunt show attraction in 2006
Powered by ShowMan, SoundMan-Server & E-Show, all on a single Windows computer

In May 2019 Kevin Hilton wrote us and said "Right now I am working on a feature for audio visual magazines that is intended to be an introduction to immersive audio. I'd like to get some more details on the work that Richmond Sound Design is doing with this technology for the live event and museum/presentation markets."

Mandie Creed kindly replied, saying "My name is Mandie Creed at Communications Electronic Design in Louisville, KY. We design and install systems in museums all over the country. And every one of the installations has a SoundMan-Server license that is utilized with our custom Audio Server/DSP solution via programming through an AMX controller. We use this software for controlling the audio in a lot of open spaces that are typically difficult to control audio in by using a visitor sensoring system and the SoundMan-Server software."

Her very thorough responses to his specific questions are below:

Q: What are the applications for immersive audio in live events, theme parks, presentations, museums etc?

A: In our museums, we use the software in multiple ways. Sensors around the exhibit areas allow us to adjust audio levels and/or playback audio files as visitors enter a specific area. It is also a great application to do mixes of audio files as visitors move throughout a space, and allows us to layer multiple audio tracks and route them throughout an area to any speaker. Another great application is live audio mixing for producers in theaters as a lot of producers and sound designers like to hear the audio in the space through the DSP/amplifier signal path that will be used. It cuts down on multiple iterations of final tracks and with live crosspoint routing we can take any output of a session and put it into any speaker in a theater.

Q: What are the main audio formats for these areas?

A: We have 2 specific formats for audio through the SoundMan-Server application - one is inputs from video servers via a MOTU/RME interface, the other is with 16-bit, 48k .wav files that live on the drive of the server

Q: Is object based audio now the norm and the most efficient way of immersing an audience in audio or do channel-based systems still have a part to play?

A: In the theaters we do, channel based audio is still the norm. And actually once audio is set in a museum, typically it doesn't change. SoundMan-Server has been such a great platform for us because the sky is the limit on where the audio can be routed, which allows wither channel or object based audio. Whether its just that the producer put the wrong track on the wrong channel in the mix, or dynamic routing and audio levels with visitor interaction, we have not found a more efficient application or piece of hardware that is so versatile.

Q: What is involved in the production/post-production process to prepare material for live immersive audio playback?

A: We give the producers 2 choices - live sound mixing onsite, or mixing offsite and routing/EQ audio through SoundMan-Server settings onsite. In each instance, levels are always adjusted and set for Low, Medium, and High presets for the user to recall depending on the daily visitor capacity. Our goal is to make the system stable and easy for the end-user to use.

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