d&b Soundscape flawlessly transposes London Philharmonic Orchestra performance to Hong Kong.

© London Philharmonic Orchestra

Hong Kong City Hall’s Concert Hall hosted two specially curated big screen performances by the London Philharmonic Orchestra in August 2022, to mark the venue’s 60th anniversary and the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong SAR. A d&b Soundscape system, comprised of an array of d&b loudspeakers and a DS100 Signal Engine, was rigged throughout the space to perfectly map each musician and place them in a 360° environment for the audience, as if they were hearing the orchestra live in-situ. Upstage, a large LED screen displayed the recordings.

Billed as an ‘experiential concert’ offering quality sound and magical ambience in the famous Concert Hall – which has hosted some of Hong Kong’s most prestigious events including the Hong Kong Arts Festival and the Hong Kong International Film Festival – it offered attendees the chance to hear the London Philharmonic Orchestra (LPO) in a realistic, in-the-room manner.

A truly hybrid event

Due to COVID restrictions, the LPO were not able to travel to Hong Kong, and therefore the concert was presented as a ‘hybrid event’. The hybrid event allowed two worlds to align, transposing both the viewing and listening experience from London to Hong Kong to fully immerse the audience, with d&b Soundscape being the tool that re-created a 3D audio environment inside City Hall. These events are becoming increasingly popular in cities around the world.

Re-creating the acoustic environment

The team used both the d&b En-Space and En-Scene Soundscape software modules to realise the audio experience. Firing up En-Space, they built the acoustic environment within City Hall, replicating the venue in London where the LPO was recorded for an enhanced, realistic sonic experience. Loading in d&b En-Scene – the object-based signal management system that extends the basic matrix function of the DS100 with an object-based positioning tool for every input – the team independently positioned each of the LPO instruments from the original space. This enabled the team in Hong Kong to place each sound object – in this case the musicians’ individual feeds – within the Concert Hall space and assign them accordingly to the d&b loudspeakers. To configure and control the mix, they used d&b ArrayCalc and R1 within the d&b Workflow.

Renowned sound designer Candog Ha was at the helm of the d&b Soundscape system design and set up and presented the possibilities of d&b Soundscape to the audience to prepare them for the experience. During the address, she explained how Soundscape would reproduce the natural, original sound of the LPO performance.

“This project was markedly different from the traditional recording format,” says Candog Ha. “Understanding that Soundscape would reproduce each instrument in an object-positioned format, the LPO team placed a microphone for each instrument far closer than they would usually, to record that particular performance as an individual track.” 

When Candog Ha received the sound files, she loaded them into the Soundscape system, listened, and then tuned each instrument or object’s position according to the City Hall's stage so that the instrument’s real location could be perfectly reproduced.

Local composer Charles Kwong flew to London for the LPO performance and recording and helped to double check the object's position in City Hall, make sure the sound reproduced was perfectly aligned with the London performance.

An audience-focused experience

“d&b Soundscape is amazing,” adds Candog Ha. “It enabled the audience to have a truly comprehensive sound image, where they could also hear the real position of each instrument, no matter where they were seated, instead of receiving a mono image while sitting at the side of hall, for example. Soundscape allowed us to truly integrate the arts and technology for this performance, where we used Soundscape to reproduce the intimate details of musical instruments as the LPO performed in the format of concert screening.”

In addition to a d&b DS100 Signal Engine, which is the heart of the d&b Soundscape system, a d&b loudspeaker set up was rigged, including five line array groups of Y8 and Y12 loudspeakers, supported by V-SUB subwoofers on low end duty. For front fill, the team used E8 loudspeakers, with T10 loudspeakers dispersed around the balcony area and underneath it, for a truly 360° experience. The loudspeakers and subwoofers were driven by d&b D80 and D20 amplifiers. All of the d&b equipment was supplied by Hong Kong-based Mad Music.

Creative audio engineering

“The Soundscape system is always amazing, making hybrid events such as this a huge success,” says d&b Greater China CEO, Daniel Chan. “It perfectly re-presented the localization of the LPO's performance in City Hall. Using the Soundscape system, there are no boundaries for performance anytime, anywhere. There are no longer limitations to the creative process and the connecting of people around the world. To me, that's the real art of creative engineering.”

The two screenings were recorded in London with Principal Conductor, Edward Gardner, and the orchestra was augmented by violinist Nicola Benedetti. The first screening featured a world premiere performance of "Lullabies", a commissioned work by local composer Charles Kwong for the anniversary, and a rendition of Tchaikovsky's "Symphony No. 5 in E minor, Op. 64". The second screening included Bruch's "Violin Concerto in G minor, Op. 26" and Elgar's "Variations on an Original Theme, Op. 36, 'Enigma’.”

The event also marked 60 years since the London Philharmonic Orchestra performed a series of concerts for the inauguration of Hong Kong City Hall, in 1962.

© London Philharmonic Orchestra
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