null Immersive Talk with Omni Soundlab

Immersive Talk with Omni Soundlab

We recently caught up with Latin-GRAMMY-Award-winning Genelec user, studio owner, sound artist and music producer, Christopher Manhey, to find out more about his immersive space and how he works with it.

Can you give us a short introduction to yourself and your studio?

I'm the founder and Creative Director of Omni Soundlab, an immersive audio and Dolby Atmos production studio in Barrio Italia, Santiago de Chile. Our studio develops projects with pioneering technologies for digital platforms and live event installations by integrating creative disciplines from music, new media art, AV (audio-visual), and XR (extended reality).

Omni Soundlab is built with both creativity and functionality in mind, serving as a production studio and a venue. We're committed to nurturing creativity, from conception to presentation, so that artwork is not only developed but also presented in-house. We embrace intimacy by intentionally limiting the space to accommodate audiences of thirty people or fewer. This way, every event here fosters a sense of closeness, enabling a deeper connection between art and audience.

What are the key pieces of equipment at Omni Soundlab?

For us, equipment and technology should be simple and accessible. Most of the time, computers process all our digital audio signals using DAWS like Pro Tools or Ableton Live and immersive audio production tools such as Dolby Atmos, 4DSOUND, Spacemap Go and L-ISA. We also use external processors sometimes, such as the Galaxy (Meyer Sound). Everything is then reproduced through a UAD 16X interface connected via DB25 to our beautiful array of white Genelecs.

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What type of work do you do?

Since our studio was designed for creation, production and hosting we have developed three different areas:

Immersive audio production with tools like Dolby Atmos for music making with major and independent artists and labels. Related to this area, we're also developing our own catalog where artists produced by the studio are presented in immersive audio installations at different festivals we are working with.

Hosting and producing in-house events is part of our vision for sharing immersive audio experiences. These are mostly listening sessions for albums produced in Dolby Atmos or for stereo and Atmos releases like the last single of The Beatles, Now and Then. With The Beatles, Universal Music asked us to host the Dolby Atmos single release event along with their documentary and nice cocktails.

Thirdly, we have education. We're deeply involved in the research and production of immersive audio with different tools, so we offer workshops. We've also partnered with The Dolby Institute to be able to certify new Dolby Atmos professionals.

Is there a particular immersive format you specialise in?

Being format and codec eclectic is important for us. That way we can get the best of each technology. An example of this has been translating Dolby Atmos productions to live experiences using systems like 4DSOUND or creating a bridge with Spacemap Go (Meyer Sound). This way, we can create solutions that get the best out of each tool. Developing new ways to implement immersive audio is part of our focus as a studio.

How and when did you become interested in immersive audio?

Since 2019, I’ve been researching different approaches to immersive audio, starting with Ambisonic field recordings for Soundscape & Acoustic Ecology projects and composing music with Binaural plugins. Because of this, I had the chance to explore different perspectives but, honestly, it took me 30 years to realize the world is not stereo.

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What made you finally equip your studio for immersive and how did it go?

Moving from stereo to immersive was a real necessity, as we started to have more and more requests from clients and personal interest in it. Eric Horstmann from Genelec and Immersive Lab (Berlin), Miguel Dominguez from Genelec and Claudio Corcione from Intervideo are not just good friends of ours but big supporters. They have been playing an important role in guiding us and bringing the best tools to the table to implement this fantastic setup in our space.

There are other professionals involved in acoustic design and implementation of the studio and our in-house team works daily to improve every detail of our workflow and knowledge.

How has immersive changed the way you approach your work?

Our approach has definitely changed from what we did with stereo, as we now work “with” and “through” the space. This takes careful consideration and involves comprehending sound and its properties in a very sensible way. In terms of creativity, immersive brings new possibilities for composition and using the space in three dimensions to tell the story. Also, for deliveries in formats such as Dolby Atmos, we're still in an emerging environment that's calling out for new and better practices. It's very exciting to see the quick pace of development.

There is also 4DSOUND spatial instruments. They're very interesting, as they give artists and creatives an instrument capable of applying spatial properties and effects such as delays, reverbs, and granular synthesis in three dimensions. This is a huge innovation in terms of how we can compose and work in immersive environments and in collaboration with different disciplines.

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What kind of Genelec monitoring system do you have?

Working with immersive audio demands the best resolution. We need to be able to “see” the big picture and all the details in each area. To me, Genelec has always been a company who innovates through new disruptive technologies, and that's why we choose SAM Series monitors in a 7.1.4 array. We have 8341s for L-C-R, 4 x 8331 for the surround, 4 x 8330 for the top layer and a 7370 subwoofer.

Do you use our GLM (Genelec Loudspeaker Manager) calibration software?

GLM is a game changer. We've been working with it to calibrate not only our studio for different instances and listening positions but also for live installations. Having a tool that effective means extra confidence – and ensures we offer audiences and clients the best quality.

A good example of this was our last installation and performance with Led Pulse at Monopol in Berlin, which was called “Organysmo”. Monopol is probably one of the most avantgarde spaces for the artistic community. The installation took place in an enormous basement with challenging reverb conditions. We installed 7 x 8351 SAM Monitors there. It took just a few minutes to calibrate the system with GLM and the result was more than impressive.

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Have you boosted business with immersive, and what kind of projects have you had?

It's been a great commercial and creative decision for us and there is no way back for us to live with only stereo. Our focus is to make immersive experiences accessible to bigger audiences on digital platforms and at live events. Our efforts have been very well received by both creatives and spectators.

This year we've been working on tons of Dolby Atmos productions for labels, distributors and artists but also on unprecedented live events. For example, we produced the 10th anniversary of the Alma Observatory in Chile with an immersive AV concert and each day we have more requests to make installations for festivals in different countries.

So, we can offer both system and content/line up designs. We love to give solutions to our collaborators and lower the barriers of entry for these kind of concepts which sometimes seem hard to reach. So, our services range from implementing the whole technical rider to curating the line up for the performances.

How do you see the future of immersive audio over the next few years?

Immersive audio and object-based technology is spreading throughout the world, of course in the audio-visual, gaming and music fields but also in other industries such cars, health and all the new emerging services related to XR and live events.

I think immersive will continue to drive revolution in the audio field with more refined algorithms for accurately placing sounds in a 3D space, virtual and augmented reality integration, adoption of the extended reality of audio where we can control our sonic environments, enhanced realism in gaming, integration with smart devices, development of new audio standards and integration across various industries – all contributing to richer and ever more immersive experiences.

To find out more about the Omni Soundlab, click here.

Listen to the Mix Room Podcast:

Do you want to be featured in our ‘Immersive Talk’ series? If so, just post some pictures of your setup on Instagram using the #GenelecImmersive hashtag. We’ll be keeping a look out for the most interesting setups, so who knows? We may be in touch with you!

Omni Soundlab & Genelec | Stunning audio-visual experience at Organysmo, Monopol, Berlin

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