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Since its inception ten years ago, the Harbeth User Group's ambition has been to create a lasting knowledge archive. Knowledge is based on facts and observations. Knowledge is timeless. Knowledge is human independent and replicatable. However, we live in new world where thanks to social media, 'facts' have become flexible and personal. HUG operates in that real world.

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A 19 speaker sourround sound system .....

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  • A 19 speaker sourround sound system .....

    Much more news to follow but we are involved with a project to create a fully engaging surround-sound system and public sonic event without video. This involves the listener being arranged amongst a 19 speaker array of Monitor 20.1s. We are building the 19 speakers now.

    Much more information - and a blog - has been promised: more later.
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

  • #2
    Ambisonics?

    I trust this is based on Ambisonics. How was the number 19 arrived at in this instance? One of the hardest things with this type of array is physically mounting the speakers, some of them needing to be up in the air, probably the single biggest factor working against this system in a domestic environment. The world doesn't know what it's missing!

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    • #3
      Even Harbeth didn't know...

      This is a happy reminder for me of a previous experiment in surround sound using Harbeth-designed speakers; one that the company may be unaware of.

      In September 2001, composer Peter Batchelor designed the 'Old Joe Sound Sculpture' for the University of Birmingham. If anyone has ever visited, or seen, photos of this university (one of the first 'Redbrick' institutions), the 'Old Joe' clock tower is the most distinctive feature.

      The installation comprised four Harbeth made HHB Circle 5 monitors, arranged so that each one pointed out of one of four archways at the top of the tower. For two days, the tower bell was silenced and instead, a quadraphonic recording of the bell was played. Now for the avant-garde bit.... these recordings had been treated so that some of the chimes were pitch-shifted while others were reversed. The sonic result was rather alarming. I became aware of this little experiment one lunchtime when the clock struck two and the most bizarre racket emanated across the campus.

      A few days later Peter had the speaker setup relocated to the electro-acoustic music department and demonstrated it first hand. This was my first, unforgettable demonstration of the clarity of Harbeth sonics. Have you ever stood next to a church bell when it is struck? Your whole body vibrates. This Circle 5 setup got frighteningly close to capturing that sensation.
      Last edited by Dougal; 13-08-2012, 10:57 PM. Reason: To correct grammatical errors.

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      • #4
        What a story!

        Originally posted by Dougal View Post
        This is a happy reminder for me of a previous experiment in surround sound using Harbeth-designed speakers; one that the company may be unaware of.

        In September 2001, composer Peter Batchelor designed the 'Old Joe Sound Sculpture' for the University of Birmingham. If anyone has ever visited, or seen, photos of this university (one of the first 'Redbrick' institutions), the 'Old Joe' clock tower is the most distinctive feature.

        The installation comprised four Harbeth made HHB Circle 5 monitors, arranged so that each one pointed out of one of four archways at the top of the tower. For two days, the tower bell was silenced and instead, a quadraphonic recording of the bell was played instead. Now for the avant-garde bit.... these recordings had been treated so that some of the chimes were pitch-shifted while others were reversed. The sonic result was rather alarming. I became aware of this little experiment one lunchtime when the clock struck two and the most bizarre racket emanated across the campus.

        A few days later Peter had the speaker setup relocated to the electro-acoustic music department and demonstrated it at first hand. These was my first, unforgettable demonstration of the clarity of Harbeth sonics. Have you ever stood next to a church bell when it is struck? Your whole body vibrates. This Circle 5 setup got frightening close to capturing that sensation.
        That is an amazing story. Why on earth didn't someone contact us!?! That's just the sort of pure audio story we like!

        I don't suppose anyone took a picture?
        Alan A. Shaw
        Designer, owner
        Harbeth Audio UK

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        • #5
          As I understand it Pluto, the ultimate performance in to be in New York. I believe -but I'm not sure about this - that the concept is something along the lines of providing a blind audience with a fully 3D sonic experience. As soon as we were approached I just knew we had to help these guys and the speakers are being built now.
          Alan A. Shaw
          Designer, owner
          Harbeth Audio UK

          Comment


          • #6
            Photos

            It is quite possible that either Dr Batchelor (now a lecturer at De Montfort University) or Birmingham ElectroAcoustic Sound Theatre (BEAST) at the University of Birmingham have photos of the installation.

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            • #7
              Link

              This is a link to Peter Batchelor's website http://www.peterbatchelor.com/oj.html, but the speakers make are not mentioned.

              Peter

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              • #8
                Old Joe Installation

                Originally posted by chirhonix View Post
                This is a link to Peter Batchelor's website http://www.peterbatchelor.com/oj.html, but the speakers make are not mentioned.

                Peter
                Many thanks for the link!

                There are a few sound extracts here http://www.peterbatchelor.com/ojex.html and photographs here http://www.peterbatchelor.com/ojphotos.html

                Please take a listen to the '1.00pm' chimes - a stereo recording of the event. There is a very 'Tomita-ish' vibe to those sustained bell tones and massive (natural) reverb. I heard these sounds 'cold' - the complete non-reaction of people around campus made me to start to question my sanity (clearly these were not Harbeth fans).

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                • #9
                  How 'intense' should your loudspeakers present themselves?

                  Originally posted by A.S. View Post
                  Much more news to follow but we are involved with a project to create a fully engaging surround-sound system and public sonic event without video. This involves the listener being arranged amongst a 19 speaker array of Monitor 20.1s. We are building the 19 speakers now. Much more information - and a blog - has been promised: more later.
                  And the project blog is on line now. The back page of the Nov. 2012 Harbeth Newsletter gives the background and the link to the blog. Very interesting stuff. I will travel down to the west country shortly to see and hear the rig for myself and will make a video of the experience for uploading here.

                  On another thread we recently discussed the idea of how much "projection" a loudspeaker gives in the middle frequencies. I've covered this in detail here and attach a picture of the all-too-familiar presentational style of too many contemporary loudspeakers: not natural at all.

                  The relevance of this to the 19 speaker array is this: if those 19 speakers exhibited this sort of searchlight immediacy then the listener's grand illusion of being immersed in one continuous fused sound field would not be possible. It would be as if he was being illuminated sonically by 19 beams of light, with darkness between them. So, there is an absolute correlation between the intensity or projection of sound as perceived by the listener (this is something that the speaker designer intentionally introduces
                  to his design) and how diffuse the listening experience is. A more diffuse sound field gives a more natural listening experience than an over-vivid one.
                  Attached Files
                  Alan A. Shaw
                  Designer, owner
                  Harbeth Audio UK

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Near neigbours!

                    Originally posted by A.S. View Post
                    And the project blog is on line now. The back page of the Nov. 2012 Harbeth Newsletter gives the background and the link to the blog. Very interesting stuff. I will travel down to the west country shortly to see and hear the rig for myself and will make a video of the experience for uploading here.

                    On another thread we recently discussed the idea of how much "projection" a loudspeaker gives in the middle frequencies. I've covered this in detail here and attach a picture of the all-too-familiar presentational style of too many contemporary loudspeakers: not natural at all.

                    The relevance of this to the 19 speaker array is this: if those 19 speakers exhibited this sort of searchlight immediacy then the listener's grand illusion of being immersed in one continuous fused sound field would not be possible. It would be as if he was being illuminated sonically by 19 beams of light, with darkness between them. So, there is an absolute correlation between the intensity or projection of sound as perceived by the listener (this is something that the speaker designer intentionally introduces
                    to his design) and how diffuse the listening experience is. A more diffuse sound field gives a more natural listening experience than an over-vivid one.
                    Thanks for the link Alan - having looked it up I find it is just down the road! (actually about half an hour - but in West Country terms that's just next door).

                    What I haven't discovered yet is whether they plan any public events down here, a bit more reading needed I think - but if you can shed any light on that I'd be grateful.

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