Japan’s Naquyo collective of world-renowned immersive sound artists took to the stage at Kyoto’s Rohm Theatre for a live performance of field-recorded, synthesised, and live-played sounds designed to transport an audience to Kyoto circa 800AD. Using a d&b audiotechnik sound system and d&b Soundscape technology, they bridged the gap between audio engineer and creative sound artist to merge ancient sounds with futuristic tech in a 360° audio experience.
The project was conceived and performed by ambient composer Kazuya Nagaya and shō (Japanese reed instrument) player Katsuhiko Orii, together with audiovisual artist, Junichi Akagawa, and dancer, Kou Yamamoto (nouseskou).
The key to recreating what a resident of Heian-kyō would hear all those years ago was to immerse an audience within a 360° soundscape. The audience were invited to sit in a circle on stage at the Rohm Theatre, surrounding the performers. To ensure each person heard the ambient sounds, chants and bells with pinpoint accuracy, an object-based sound mixing solution was required, alongside sophisticated room emulation software and an array of loudspeakers designed to immerse the listener.
In the pre-planning stages, Mutek JP introduced the Naquyo creative team to d&b audiotechnik in Yokohama, where they were given a demo by d&b audiotechnik Japan sales and market development’s Shozo Doi and EAS specialist, Yo Kato, together with the team at Japanese d&b audiotechnik rental house, Treasure Island. Together, they designed the system that would form the audio foundations for the performance.
At the heart of the d&b Soundscape system was the DS100 Signal Engine, the audio system based on a Dante-enabled signal matrix. The main system consisted of 16 d&b T-Series T10 2-way speakers with 2x6.5-inch drivers and a 1.4-inch exit compression driver, used in a point source configuration. These were evenly spaced around the audience. In addition, four T10s were hung as ceiling speakers above the audience’s heads.
The subwoofers were d&b V-Series V-SUB 18-inch cardioid subwoofers, one on each of the four sides. These were driven by d&b D20 four-channel amplifiers, and the team also used two DS10 Dante–AES/EBU audio network bridges.
“We wanted to use the same model of speakers for all positions due to the nature of the performance, and we chose the T10 because of its small size and power,” says d&b’s Doi-san. “The V-SUBs were chosen because we wanted to reproduce a natural low end in line with the composer’s expectations.”
The capabilities of d&b Soundscape would fundamentally change the audio artists’ creative approach to the piece. The two Soundscape software modules – sound object positioning tool En-Scene and in-line room emulation tool En-Space – offered them powerful ways to alter and position sound. En-Scene was used throughout the Naquyo performance, including for live performances of the shō, and applied to the sound of Buddhist bells and field recordings to reproduce a natural sound environment.