Technology evolves and changes daily. In fact, it moves so fast that sometimes it can be hard to keep up with. In the world of technology, audio and video play a tremendous role in grand scheme of things. As the AV industry grows, and new advancements become available, it offers us a much better experience with an enhanced perspective on what is possible.
Immersive audio installations enhance the consumer experience in a way that allows you to feel entertainment. Instead of watching and listening to a show, you are submerged in an experience. Immersive audio is audio designed not just to come from one source, or from stationary positions to the left and right of you, but rather from all infinite points around you.
Immersive audio is a multi-dimensional approach to audio storytelling that immerses listeners in an expanded sonic field that goes way beyond traditional surround sound. While “surround sound” exists in a horizontal plane around the listener, “immersive audio” is designed to produce a fully immersive experience.
Surround sound was not created to sell records, it was created initially to wow audiences in cinema. As time has gone on and cinema screens have become more advanced, they came up with a version of sound that better compliments the visual experience. That is how surround sound became immersive sound.
There have been huge improvements made in the video as well as audio. For example, video wall installations have matured from LCD monitors to high resolution LED monitors. LED, for those of you who do not know, stands for Light Emitting Diode while LCD is short for Liquid Crystal Display. The difference between the two is the placement and type of light used. LEDs use diodes while LCDs use fluorescent lights. LEDs are also slimmer than LCDs and provide a much better quality, clearer picture with high-definition output.
If you think about some of the effects that can be achieved by using visually sharper clearer monitors and more speakers, it is easy to understand why big blockbuster films want to make use of immersive audio mixing. An explosion can come from one angle, footsteps can seem to approach from another. By panning the sound between multiple speakers, you can give the illusion of something moving around in the room with you. This is why they call it ‘immersive.’ The sound compliments the visual and gives an extra layer of experience.
The History and Future of Sound
The history of surround sound is an old one and the concept of immersive audio is far from brand new. Disney experimented with surround sound at some point back in the 40’s. Their original idea was to try and make it seem like an insect or a bird was flying around the room. The widely accepted birth of surround sound wasn’t until 1957.
Musician and artist Henry Jacobs created concerts which were audio/visual in nature that took place at the Morrison Planetarium in San Francisco. The concerts are recognized to be the first that pulled off the surround sound we are familiar with today.
Dolby began in 1965, when the scientist Ray Dolby decided to devote himself entirely to sound and create his own business. His early developments included a sound compression and expansion system that reduced the level of background noise in film recordings. Those early developments evolved into many other areas of sound and visual enhancements. One of their latest developments is Atmos®, a way to deliver dozens of individual discreet channels of sound, delivered to as many surround speakers as needed in an auditorium to create a fully immersive experience.
With today’s modern technology, 360-degree sound opens a dream world for producers and engineers. Something that only 50 years ago would have been unheard of is now very real, thanks to technology and innovative engineers who worked on ways to completely immerse listeners in their sound field. Immersive audio also comes with its challenges, such as installing overhead and wall surround speakers safely, above the audiences inside a wide variety of venues.
Adaptive Technologies Group developed a system called “StarGrid” which provides a safe and easy way to install overhead surround speakers from a rigid grid design. StarGrid is comprised of standard mounts, components, and specialty hardware.
StarGrid places all the rigid grid work and wiring above the dropped ceiling and the surround speakers below, aimed in their critical immersive positions and angles for a clean, neat appearance and for an acoustically balanced audio experience. Adaptive provides the set up and design elements for audio rigging of audio mounts and all the rigging and hardware for 3d audio.
As the cinema industry began to adopt immersive audio in their auditoriums and post-production facilities, Adaptive realized the need for safely installing surround speakers over audience’s heads and brought StarGrid to the forefront of immersive audio for safety and ease of installation. Adaptive manufactures in-house all the overhead mounts and rigging components used to achieve 360-degrees of sound.
Adaptive also offers audio and video mounting and rigging solutions for a wide range of indoor and outdoor applications including AV wall mounts, ceiling mounts, projector lifts, enclosures and cages, building attachments such as beam clamps, strut attachments, winches and hoists, and the list goes on.
They have also devised standard weatherproof and marine grade loudspeaker and video wall mounting and aiming devices for outdoor commercial applications, including loudspeakers and LEDs, especially for professional grade outdoor-rated pole mounts,
including Steerables®, PoleStar® and MultiMount®. Many of these designs serve transportation, sport venue and stadium applications around the world.
The immersive experience is now stretching into other venues such as arenas, conference rooms, concert halls, theme parks and civic auditoriums. Interactive Content, Virtual Reality Demos, LED Video Walls, performing arts and “experience-based” events are showing up and taking over everywhere.
If there is one thing that Covid has shown us, it is that we crave interactions and experiences. Boring retail is becoming a thing of the past with audio and video enhancements to bring in and excite consumers. So is “average” entertainment. Besides more advanced viewing options, there will be bigger-than-life visuals, effects and stunning sound coming at you from everywhere very soon!