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Meyer Sound systems supply ‘spellbinding’ sound for Karen O and Danger Mouse audiovisual collaboration

The custom-built system combined music and sound set to the pair’s album collaboration, Lux Prima

Meyer Sound provided the spatial sound system for a unique multi-sensory art installation that received rave reviews when it was performed in April this year.

More than 35,000 people watched An Encounter with Lux Prima – an installation created by musician Karen O and producer Danger Mouse – that ran for sixteen performances at the Marciano Art Foundation in Los Angeles in April.

The custom-built system combined music and sound set to the pair’s album collaboration, Lux Prima – released a month earlier – using ultra low frequency control elements to create an innovative audiovisual experience.

The creative team involved in the project included film producer Mungo Maclagan, creative director Barnaby Clay and lighting designer Tobias Rylander.

Maclagan said: “One thing we all had in mind going into this was that the music had to be the hero. We absolutely did not want noodly ambience in the background that you get with some art installations. That meant we had to complement the music with imagery that was not dictatorial, so the power of the music would carry the story.”

Meyer Sound loudspeakers were deployed from the outset, first at sound designer Ren Klyce’s own post-production facility, and again for the final pre-mixes at Skywalker Sound, the studio responsible for blockbuster films including Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Toy Story 4 and the recent Lion King remake.

“Meyer Sound loudspeakers are very musical, which is what I personally like about them,” says Klyce. “In addition to their natural musical quality, they can get very loud but still feel pleasant. They are also emotional in the low frequencies with the VLFCs. When you want to have that soulful feeling in your chest, those speakers literally make you feel in with your whole body.”

To expand the stereo album music into an immersive experience, Klyce created a 7.1 mix from the multitrack master files, augmented by additional object-oriented spatial sound elements. Klyce also created his own sound design elements as segues between songs, enlisting the assistance of Skywalker Sound engineer Brian Long to configure the audio system on site.

“As soon as I came on board I insisted this had to be a turnkey Meyer Sound solution,” Long says. “Meyer is the only company that could handle this kind of project with a fully integrated approach.”

Working in consultation with Meyer Sound’s director of strategic applications Michael Maxson and director of system optimisation Bob McCarthy, Long devised an LCR layout for each side of the triangular base. Twelve UPQ-1P loudspeakers supplied the full-range LCR program (one each for R and L and two for C per side), with an additional UPQ-1P overhead. Also packed inside were six 900-LFC low frequency control elements for deep bass plus the elemental infrasonic force of three VLFC very low frequency control elements. The four surround channels each employed two UPQ-2P loudspeakers.

Mungo Maclagan, Karen O and Danger Mouse were on hand for the final pre-mix sessions at the Skywalker Sound studio in California.

“We had listened to some of the other technologies when we’d visited the Meyer Sound headquarters earlier,” says Maclagan, “but we didn’t hear the VLFCs until Skywalker. That was literally an earth-shaking experience. When Karen O and Danger Mouse first got their ears on the system, they were like kids in a candy store. The overall quality and fidelity really was mind-blowing.”

“The reaction was resoundingly positive every time,” he adds. “Everybody was absolutely spellbound by the experience. The audiences were totally engaged throughout the entire 35 minutes – David Lynch came down for one show and said, ‘Wow, you’ve blown my mind.’ That was a high accolade indeed.”