null Genelec and Sound Blanc join forces for unique surround sound performance

Genelec and Sound Blanc join forces for unique surround sound performance

As part of the Modern Sky record company – one of the most important independent labels in China – the sub-label Sound Blanc has been one of the driving forces behind the popularity and development of ambient music in China, and so Genelec was extremely excited to partner recently with the Sound Blanc team to stage a special performance of “The Cycle” Ambient Surround Project at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA) in Beijing.

Combining an ambient music performance with a multi-channel listening experience, both the performers and the live audience were surrounded by a ring array of Genelec loudspeakers, creating a truly unique listening environment. This type of playback system is tailor-made for ambient music, emphasising the sense of space and the abstract nature of the compositions – and creating an incredibly thought-provoking and stimulating live event.

The planning and creation of the show took place over a two month period, using the demonstration space in Modern Sky to evaluate how the sound elements combined, how they moved, and what type of speaker configuration would be best suited to the ambient material. The creative team included electronic musician Wang Lu, also known as L + R, music producer/mixer Shen Lijia and visual artist Tami-musiXgal, and working alongside our colleagues at Genelec China, a system comprising eight S360 high-SPL smart active monitors and a 7382 subwoofer was used to surround the audience, while a smaller smart active array of four 8330 two-ways, four 8331 coaxial three-ways and a 7360 subwoofer was used to envelop the musician and the VJ. Genelec GLM software was then used to analyse the room and optimise the frequency response, distance delay and playback level of each speaker in the system – thereby delivering the best possible listening experience to both performers and audience alike.

In planning the event, the team were seeking a good combination of manual control, programming and random machine triggering, with the pre-programmed foundation of the 8.1 audio mix being handled by Ableton Live, with Cycling 74’s Max allowing communication with external hardware instruments – and plenty of real-time musical improvisation was included too!

Prior to the event, the demand for tickets was so high that it was decided to stage three separate performances, to allow every listener to position themselves comfortably within the speaker array and experience the finest sound quality. And from our own perspective, the whole process of planning and executing the event gave us a much deeper understanding of the shaping of space, the precise positioning of sound and the design of moving trajectories in music.

There’s no doubt to us at Genelec that as the world’s exposure to immersive audio becomes greater, the future of multi-channel live music performances is increasingly looking brighter. There are a whole new generation of music fans who are seeking more and more ‘experiential’ live performances, and Genelec is excited to play its part in the growth of this exciting medium.


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