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One of America’s most iconic theatres, Mann Chinese Theatre in the Hollywood and Highland complex, immerses audiences in the action with realistic three-dimensional soundscapes. It’s audio fit for the Academy Awards.
The audio system installed by Electrosonic creates unparalleled sound from a 380-channel IOSONO audio system. Audiences experience an extra-ordinary depth of sound with a vividness that experts reported they had not previously experienced in a theatre.
The IOSONO installation in Auditorium 6 at the theatre is currently used exclusively for demonstration purposes, testing and development and is designed to help Hollywood sound designers assess the system’s viability for premium theatres nationwide. The space also serves 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 the venue to create stunningly realistic, three-dimensional soundscapes that put the audience at the heart of the action.
The system’s unique feature is its ability to project audio anywhere inside the theatre, giving the audience the illusion that sounds originate from right next to them.
It also creates audio uniformity, so that everyone hears sound at the same volume, regardless of where they sit. The effect is created by using multiple speakers, each of them controlled by a computer that can play back individual sounds at intervals.
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.
The system required precise installation. When Electrosonic’s team completed the physical install, they 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 had to retrofit the existing auditorium during the small window of time in which the theatre could go black. The team also had to devise a layout that gave optimal acoustics and maintained the integrity of the theatre’s aesthetics.
As the auditorium’s THX system remains the primary sound system, Electrosonic 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 worked in partnership with Wolf Theatre Services, installing 64 IOSONO channels behind the theatre’s screen and distributing 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. Electrosonic also built and installed the central equipment rack.
Theatre operators are looking for new ways to make their cinemas stand apart from home entertainment, where big-screen, high-definition televisions and five channel sound systems have turned family rooms into miniature multiplexes.
Auditorium 6 is frequently used for private studio screenings so there are many opportunities for IOSONO to demonstrate the system to industry groups and sound producers as extensions to those screenings.