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 magazine 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
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
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.