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Astro Spatial Audio installation allows uni students to explore ‘full possibilities’ of immersive audio

The Sara II system was chosen for its ability to join the studio’s Dante media network

Astro Spatial Audio is introducing German university students to object-based audio with the recently installed Sara II Premium Rendering Engine for their immersive audio coursework.

Students at the Institute for Computer Music and Electronic Media (ICEM), part of Folkwang University of the Arts, in Essen, Germany, will “benefit” from using the processor as part of their course, according to ICEM artistic director Thomas Neuhaus. “It will prove invaluable for students who go on to work in immersive environments during their professional careers,” he said.

“Our approach here is definitely an artistic one and we wanted to be able to explore immersive sound with regard to composition,” Neuhaus added. “Whether it is in connection with immersive video or not is a secondary consideration. As opposed to fairly simple 8-channel sound and panning, our aim was to provide students with the chance to explore the full possibilities of immersive audio.”

The ICEM comprises a multi-purpose electronic studio and facility, comprising recording spaces and a performance area. Among other things, the Sara II system was chosen for its ability to join the studio’s Dante media network.

“The Astro Spatial Audio solution has been implemented during the remodelling of this one studio, and part of our aim for the space is to make it as easy to reconfigure as possible for different applications and projects. The Dante network supports that objective and, of course, the Astro Spatial Audio SARA II processor is Dante compatible.”

The 3U, rack-mountable Sara II brings object-based 3D audio to live entertainment and installation projects. The engine converts audio signals into audio objects, attaching metadata to each object, including its position in 3D space, its acoustic characteristics and much more. Sara II then renders the position of each audio object in real-time within 3D space (depending on the user’s choice of room shape) up to 40 times per second. The result is a three-dimensional audio canvas.

The Astro Spatial Audio solution is being used in conjunction with the studio’s DAW-based 20-plus strong loudspeaker system. In keeping with the modern studio layout, there is no large-format console in the revamped studio, while the classic analogue synths that were formerly housed there have also been removed to give students more space to realise their 3D projects.

“In terms of what you might call classic studio equipment, there is none except for a handful of audio interfaces and controllers,” explained Neuhaus.

“Being able to create a mix that replicates the experience of being immersed in sound is very powerful, and I think we are going to see some students create some highly innovative work.”