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TiMax SoundHub and TrackerD4naturally clarifies Nixon in China

Contrasting with the postmodernity of its theme, the recent stage interpretation of Nixon in China for the Teatro Real in Madrid presented a wonderfully traditional production. Adhering to the operatic principle of ‘clarification not amplification’, sound designer Cameron Crosby specified the ultimate pairing for high resolution object-based immersive audio, matching a TiMax SoundHub spatial audio engine with award-winning vocal tracking from TiMax TrackerD4, which delivered the locational coordinates of the principal performers in real-time.

Teatro Real’s Head of Audio Visual, Fernando Valiente Uceda, discussed the project and the specification in detail with Out Board’s Robin Whittaker at the ISE exhibition in Barcelona. With a full appreciation of the capabilities and benefits of using the end-to-end TiMax system, the allure was made real with a positive decision.

TiMax SoundHub formed the spatial core of the sound system, controlled by both the TiMax TrackerD4 and Cue triggers from a Digico SD10 sound console, with outputs to the loudspeaker system comprised of four main areas, including an orchestra pit system, front stage fills which covered the majority of the auditorium, line arrays directed at the upper balconies and a small number of delays to infill side positions.

As well as the tracking of the principal singers on the stage, Crosby employed TiMax to integrate audio from the chorus in non- tracked locations both on-stage and off to mix that harmoniously with the audio from the moving performers.

Crosby’s aim was to keep the gain structure of the loudspeaker mix to a minimum to “…create a soundscape that is able to blend the natural sound coming from the singers with the aural content coming from the loudspeakers.” He underlines, “This is the point of using object-based audio so that the reinforced voice enhances the natural voices.”

The fluency of the end-to-end TiMax system meant that for Crosby, “the end result was precisely what we had planned, with seamless aural imaging of the sound combining with the direct natural sound from the singers”.

However, Crosby was surprised by the ease of workflow he experienced using TiMax TrackerD4 with its natural counterpart, TiMax SoundHub. He explains, “TiMax TrackerD4 provided a dynamic X-Y, and Z location for each singer, so that TiMax SoundHub was able to continuously reposition each perceived location to accurately match the actual position of the singers. This meant there was never an image shift between the direct and enhanced voices.”

Crosby adds, “One of the most powerful features in TiMax TrackerD4 is the ability to restrict the changing of X-Y-Z output when a performer is relatively still. This function reduces any potential delay jittering when a performer moves only very slightly.”

He continues, “On TiMax SoundHub itself, there are further areas of really well thought out functionality and it’s all accessible via clear graphical representations for the level and delay matrices in PanSpace and the TimeLine. For example, the ability to not only adjust the delay settings for tracked and non-tracked sources separately but to do so easily. Also, the ability to individually adjust the equalization and delay settings for the outputs: it’s so simple and accessible”.

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