A robot, a car park and a Y-Series first.

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The ADA Project, recently staged by The Vinyl Factory in London, presented four distinct musicians responding to the movements of an industrial robot programmed by artist Conrad Shawcross. Thought provoking and demanding in equal measure, the complex collaboration was inspired by Ada Lovelace the renowned nineteenth century mathematician who, together with Charles Babbage, inventor of the first proto-computer, predicted the advent of machine programmed music. Presented in the unlikely confines of a disused multistorey car park behind Regent Street, the project placed a unique challenge on the sound reproduction equipment.

Encore Pro Audio Ltd, a company known to deploy loudspeakers on dog sleds in the Arctic Circle in the service of art, provided the recently launched Y-Series and reputable expertise. “They are fantastic,” said event producer Joana Seguro. “We installed a quad system of pole mounted Y10s on top of Y-SUBs around the rectangle of the performance area, described Encore’s Luke Turnbull. “All were facing inwards; the audience sat within the field of propagation on the perimeter of the performance space, the loudspeakers projecting across a twenty metre listening area, enabling a spatial dimension to sound reproduction. Literally the ability to move the audience’s listening perception around in much the same way as the robot drew our eyes around the space. For the vocal elements we rigged a separate cluster of d&b E8s localised overhead to the position of the singers, so that the audience might always perceive the vocals as emanating naturally from that point.”

“Quad is usually configured as surround sound, with things moving spatially within the field,” explained specialist mix engineer Jamie Harley. “This was different. Mira Calix for example, scored her piece with strings where cello, or say violin, would be placed very specifically to come from one position, so the audience were sat around the performance area within the quad field listening to a cello part from outside. That sounds a bit odd, but actually worked very well.

“I chose d&b for cohesion. I’m a bit of a hi-fi buff really, I like things to sound solid with no discernible gaps unless they are intentional. The system Encore provided meant we had the ability to put any sound anywhere; the constant directivity of d&b products is absolute ¬¬- the new Y-Series was no exception - so I dealt with the pieces as they were presented to me, setting level and location to that prescribed by the various composers. Basically I was augmenting a natural intimate sound; the d&b system wasn’t there to burn people, it needed to be transparent, not overt. I do a lot of events like this where I’m mixing an intimate acoustic performance, be that vocal or instrumental, with electronic music. I find d&b is excellent for these things, gently lifting in an unobtrusive fashion and sounding very natural. The Y-Series was perfect really: small, discreet and very, very clear. As for my relationship with Encore, that goes way back. I can’t say enough good things about John Tinline and what his company does.”

Photograph courtesy of The Vinyl Factory.

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