Testing acoustics & visualising

May 28, 2009 at 10:43 pm (Presentations, Crits & Tutorials, Visualisations)

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I spent today testing the acoustics of my room and trying to visualise how to create the immersive listening experience I’m after.

Last week I made measurements and took some photographs in the space to use as reference. I have included the photos in the video below, which was a simple test of the spaces acoustic character:


I recorded a few claps in the space to my WAV recorder.
I then transferred the recording to my computer and played it back in to the room over the loudspeaker.
I recorded in the space once more using my WAV recorder.
I repeated this process 10 times.



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In Logic I then sequenced the same 2 claps from each recording chronologically, allowing you to hear the gradual transformation of the sound as disappears in the acoustic character of the space.
I can experiment using these in Space Designer next week.
I also tested what it sounded like approaching the room with a) the door open and b) the door closed. I wanted to listen to how much the sound spilled in to the corridor.

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The spill in test a was a lot greater than b, so much so that you could hear my piece from the main stairwell! I don’t think I will be able to have the door open at all, since doing so could disturb work in the corridor. I made a recording of both, but I have uploaded b, which I think has the potential to be more exciting in terms of experience:

Asides from the creaking door, which may be a distraction, I enjoyed the feeling of suddenly entering a completely different sonic environment upon opening the door. This separation could work well and even be exploited….

I also had a tutorial with Jonathan today, which was extremely helpful. I wanted to get his input on how to work with the space to create a dark, immersive listening environment.
He suggested creating an enclosed room within the room, sealed from light so that it’s completely dark. Apart from the practical benefits of hiding equipment and not having to cover the windows / paint, it would mean that the illusion of space in my compositions would not be shattered by the visuality of the physical space encountered and would make people engage with the work solely with their ears. I like this idea.

There are more things to consider. Would they feel uncomfortable in complete darkness? Would they want to stay if other people were in there too? Would the possibility of bumping in to people detract from the experience?

I am reminded of Anthony Gormley’s Blind Light (2007), which I was lucky enough to experience. The loss of ones body beyond arms length and everything within ones peripheral vision was sublime. It was a playful experience, one lead by the ear and movement through a space. It felt quite comfortable, open, inviting. There was an interesting dialogue between those inside and outside of the space. It felt like a heightened conscious experience, where the sense of my own being slipped into the ether. It was a shared experience; all our ears became tuned to the sound of one anothers cautious passage through the space, the shrieks and yelps of children, the apologetic tones of near misses and the playful freedom of anonymity!

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