Mann Chinese Theater

Hollywood, California

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Auditorium 6 of the Mann Chinese 6 Theatre in the Hollywood and Highland complex is experiencing unparalleled 3D sound thanks to a cutting-edge, 380-channel IOSONO audio system installed by Electrosonic. Mann Chinese 6 is adjacent to the famed Grauman’s Chinese Theatre which is also a Mann property.

The Mann Chinese 6 project marks the second IOSONO installation Electrosonic has performed.  Earlier, Electrosonic installed a 308.5-channel system at the Peltz Theater in the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, the first such IOSONO system in the US.

The IOSONO installation at Mann Chinese 6 is designed to help Hollywood sound designers assess the system’s viability for premium theaters nationwide.  The system is currently used exclusively for demonstration purposes, testing and development.  Auditorium 6 is frequently used for private studio screenings so there are many opportunities for IOSONO to demo the system to industry groups and sound producers as extensions to those screenings.  The space will also serve as a test venue for those who begin to work in the format, especially as 3D movie releases increase in number.

IOSONO is a new audio technology that uses Wavefield Synthesis to take sound reproduction to the next level – beyond surround sound to true 3D audio.  Sound can be made to appear anywhere within or outside of the venue to create stunningly realistic, three-dimensional soundscapes that put the audience at the heart of the action.

Electrosonic project manager Steve Calver had gained experience with the IOSONO install from the Peltz Theater job but with Mann Chinese 6 he was challenged with retrofitting an existing theater during the small window of time in which the theater could go black.

“Auditorium 6 couldn’t close for more than two weeks so we worked double shifts seven days a week,” he recalls.  “Once we were done with the physical install we spent a significant amount of time mapping and equalizing the system.  Each of the 380 speakers was mapped with surveying equipment for accurate positioning within the computer models.”

Electrosonic teamed with Wolf Theater Services to install the IOSONO system around the auditorium’s existing drapery and lighting.  “We had to devise a layout that gave optimal acoustics and maintained the integrity of the theater’s aesthetics,” Calver explains.  “The auditorium’s THX system remains the primary sound system so we also had to establish an interface between the IOSONO system and the THX system so they could switch back and forth without complexity.”  Custom programming and routing were required to achieve the connection.

Electrosonic installed 64 IOSONO channels behind the theater’s screen and distributed the rest evenly on either side and across the back of the auditorium.  Each channel has a 2-way loudspeaker unit and associated amplifier; the system uses the existing THX subwoofers with additional left and right rear subwoofer channels.

Dolby tuned the IOSONO system to emulate Dolby 5.1 to showcase not only the differences between surround sound and IOSONO’s enhanced capabilities but also demonstrate that the IOSONO system can perform equally well as a traditional 5.1 system.

Additionally, Electrosonic built and installed the central equipment rack, which features computers and IOSONO’s distribution unit, to the client’s specifications.