TiMax Spatially Herding Cats

Switzerland’s Thunerseespiele is well-known for its beautiful scenic location, providing the most stunning backdrop to the high-energy performances gracing stage every summer. The energy is fully matched by the immersive spatial audio perenially delivered by award-winning sound designer, Tom Strebel, using TiMax Tracker stage tracking and object-based TiMax SoundHub spatial reinforcement to deliver transparent vocal clarity and intelligibility. As usual, Strebel’s seasoned audiopool engineers also crewed the production and Out Board’s Robin Whittaker provided TiMax spatial tuning and programming support on-site.  

In previous years, lavish performances have included Jesus Christ Superstar, Titanic and Aida – and unforgettably, Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet performed in a massive half-pipe with a cast of BMX stunt bikers and skateboarders. This year’s performance of the global musical theatre phenomenon, CATS, joined its predecessors in high velocity aural harmony, tracked and localised with precision for the immersive benefit of the 2700-strong nightly audience.

A TiMax SoundHub dynamic delay-matrix spatial processor is controlled by TiMax Tracker automation which uses transmitter tags worn by each performer to send radar-frequency UWB chirps to sensors around the stage which then feed positional information the TiMax SoundHub in real-time.  SoundHub then uses specially-developed algorithms to morph each performer’s radio mic between TiMax Image Definition delay-matrix objects, ensuring that every audience member hears their voice coming from where they actually are on stage.

The TiMax dynamic delay-matrix spatialisation process delivers these continuously varying source-oriented reinforcement relationships directly to a multi-channel d&b speaker system distributed amongst the audience on poles, mounted along the stage lip and upstage as imaging “anchors”.

Thomas Strebel asserts that the high production values espoused by the producers absolutely justifies this detailed approach to vocal reinforcement. 

“In a theatre you can work with light to highlight certain people," he explains “in Thun, the performances will also be held during the day, before nightfall: It is therefore important that you can locate the position of each actor precisely based on their voice. Otherwise it is too difficult to understand what is happening on a large stage.  TiMax SoundHub gives us the processing and software tools to do this and TiMax Tracker makes it all fully automatic. Ironically once its working you don’t know it’s there, but if you switch it off it’s really uncomfortable”.

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