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Filling the new Las Vegas Sphere with audio

A render of what audiences might experience come September. Pic: Sphere Entertainment
2 minute read
A render of what audiences might experience come September. Pic: Sphere Entertainment

Something the size and shape of the new Las Vegas Sphere needs a whole new system to fill it with audio, and Sphere Immersive Sound has been developed to do just that.

Sphere Immersive Sound, powered by Berlin-based HOLOPLOT’s technology, is billed as the world’s most advanced audio system, and if it can pull off the rather difficult trick of providing crystal-clear, individualized sound to every one of the 17,000+ seats in Sphere when it opens, it’s probably got a good claim on that title.

The system consists of around 1600 permanently installed and 300 mobile HOLOPLOT X1 Matrix Array loudspeaker modules and includes a total of 167,000 individually amplified loudspeaker drivers. The system utilizes HOLOPLOT’s next-generation 3D Audio-Beamforming and Wave Field Synthesis technology to provide each audience member with a personalized listening experience. The entire sound system is completely hidden behind Sphere’s 160,000 square foot interior LED display plane. Any audio transmission losses are fully compensated for by HOLOPLOT’s algorithms in the optimization engine, resulting in what the developers say is clear, full-range sound with virtually no coloration. 

Traditional loudspeaker technology in large-scale venues can result in audio quality that diminishes as distance from the speakers increases, due to the uncontrolled nature of sound wave propagation. HOLOPLOT says that its patented 3D Audio- Beamforming technology uses intelligent software algorithms to create unique, highly controlled, and more efficient soundwaves than conventional speakers, ensuring that levels and quality remain consistent from point of origin to destination – even over large distances. 

Rather neatly HOLOPLOT’s propriety beamforming technology can also simultaneously send unique audio content to specific locations in the venue, creating the possibility for different sections to hear completely different content – such as languages, music, or sound effects – offering limitless opportunities for truly customized and immersive audio experiences.

Sphere Immersive Sound also plans to utilize HOLOPLOT’s unique Wave Field Synthesis capabilities, a spatial audio rendering technique that leverages virtual acoustic environments. With conventional audio technology, the perceived origin of a sound has traditionally been the location of the loudspeaker. Using Wave Field Synthesis, sound designers can create a virtual point of origin, which can then be placed in a precise spatial location. This enables audio to be directed to the listener so that it sounds close, even though the source is far away – for example, an audience member could hear a whisper that sounds like someone is talking directly in their ear.

The system was first trialled last summer at the Beacon Theatre in New York ahead of being further customized and scaled up for Sphere. First the public will get to hear the newly souped up system will be on  September 29 with the first of U2’s 25 performances of U2:UV Achtung Baby Live At Sphere.

U2’s The Edge said, “The beauty of Sphere is not only the ground-breaking technology that will make it so unique, with the world’s most advanced audio system integrated into a structure which is designed with sound quality as a priority; it’s also the possibilities around immersive experiences in real and imaginary landscapes. In short, it’s a canvas of an unparalleled scale and image resolution, and a once-in-a-generation opportunity. We all thought about it and decided we’d be mad not to accept the invitation.”

Tickets are currently on sale at thespherevegas.com and will probably be one of the hottest tickets in an already hot town by the time NAB rolls into Vegas again next year.

Tags: Audio Featured