tube uk supplies KAGAMI shows

Photo: National Theater & Concert Hall, Taipei, Tawan Photography - Chen-Chou Chang.

Tin Drum enlisted tube uk to assist with the delivery of a sound system for a series of immersive mixed-reality performance concerts, KAGAMI, featuring the music of the late artist Ryuichi Sakamoto.

The in-the-round shows were originally staged during the 2023 Manchester International Festival (MIF23) with tube as audio supplier. Tin Drum next moved the show to the Roundhouse in London for a showcase and again asked tube uk to supply the audio equipment, including speakers and collaborating closely with their sound designer, Rob Parkinson.

“We relish the challenges and fun of making any project that’s inventive, off beat or non-standard work and come alive” stated tube’s Melvyn Coote, “and this was no exception.” KAGAMI will now tour worldwide for the next 2 – 3 years with the same audio control set up as delivered to the initial UK productions by tube.

Audiences wear compact Magic Leap 2 AR headsets, start off in a circle and can see a virtual Sakamoto playing the piano in the centre area, together with dimensional art synched to the music. As the piece unfolds, they can explore the space while hearing the spatial audio and experiencing the surrounding atmosphere through the speaker array rigged in the venue.

“It is a technically challenging scenario requiring a lot of thought and some experimentation” commented Parkinson, who used d&b’s S100 Soundscape. Just a couple of days after Sakamoto’s passing, audio engineer and designer Kazuyuki ‘ zAk’ Matsumura reached out to d&b in Japan to establish the feasibility of the project using d&b Soundscape.

zAk’s original sound design for the piece stems from Sakamoto’s piano concert series, ‘Playing the Piano’ which was both performed live and streamed. He wanted to realise this once again without the presence of the artist. A system mock-up was set up in d&b’s Yokohama demo room, and then again at their partner Soundscape’s studio in Tokyo, where a quarter of the circle making up the full system for audio preproduction was emulated to translate zAk’s aural concepts into audio.

The main challenge for KAGAMI from the general audio side was to design a safe network system for playback that would run without the engineers present. Dante enabled DS100 which was convenient as it could cater for design changes, Ayumi Hanano from d&b audiotechnik in Japan, explained.

For the Roundhouse shows, tube uk supplied 29 d&b E-Series speakers – E5s, E6s and E8s – with circular deployment in the venue’s main space, with V-10P and Y10P downfills in the centre, plus two flown V-SUBS. Ten additional speakers (two d&b Y7P’s and nine d&b E8’s) were rigged in an induction space showing a pre-performance film comprising a mix of Sakamoto images and video footage.The main room speakers were carefully positioned and rigged in five circles in the Roundhouse roof.

With the audio plot drawn up in advance, once in the venue Rob worked with the riggers to get the CAD drawing and actual reality as close as possible. Once in place, the X / Y position of each speaker was laser measured and the positional information updated in the Soundscape software.

Next the speaker-to-floor distances were measured, also with a laser tool, as each box has to be physically exactly where it is in the computer. Parkinson worked on this element of the process with YoYo Munk, Tin Drum’s chief scientist.

The number and types of speakers and amplifiers will vary as KAGAMI tours around the world depending on the region and venue, so Soundscape effectively recreated the original object-based spatial mix in the new venues, and Parkinson will lead the production redesign each time it moves.

The playback show runs on a QLab machine,with another for hot backup, feeding into the brains of the system, the d&b DS100 Signal Engine, which maps the movement and immersive effects for every speaker. QLab effectively ran automation for En-Scene – sound object localisation using level and delay parameters, and En-Space, convoluted room emulation.

The signals are distributed via Dante to two d&b DS10 DANTE to AES convertors which were interfaced to 10 d&b D20 amps for The Roundhouse installation, and then to the speakers. All the audio is cued through a That Little Box controller, a custom product invented by Parkinson.

A major reason the DS100 Soundscape chosen by zAk was because it “allows such high precision and freedom when working with every element in the mix enabling his sound design to be revisited every time for fine-tuning and delivering the best acoustic experience for different audiences.”

tube also supplied their first Yamaha DM7 digital mixing console which was brand new, and much appreciated by Parkinson as he added his own elements to the multitracked mix. “It’s a perfect console for this show and what we are doing with KAGAMI!” he confirmed, “A wonderful little desk with a small footprint, super powerful and well thought out with lots of great features including being Dante enabled and able to establish a direct connection with DS100.”

Parkinson asked Production Manager Rory Howson to add it as a first choice to KAGAMI’s touring rider.

It was important for both Rob and Rory that tube were involved in this production. “As soon as we were confirmed for the Roundhouse, we wanted them onboard” stated Parkinson. “Melvynand John’s expertise was invaluable and made the whole process so much easier, and the levels of support were outstanding!”