d&b Soundscape springs into Sakanaction
When versatile pop band Sakanaction chose to implement the d&b Soundscape system to enhance their four-night run at the famous Tokyo live music venue, EX Theater Roppongi, they set the scene for the system’s Japanese live concert debut.
Since its formation in 2005, Sakanaction has been a consistently popular presence on the Japanese music scene. Their varied musical output defies categorisation, encompassing styles from alternative rock, to electronic, pop and new wave. What’s more, the band’s approach to live performance production is similarly open-minded: they have developed something of a reputation for exploring the possibilities offered by new technologies.
When the band’s sound engineer, Sachio Sasaki from audio company Acoustic, along with Acoustic’s President, Mr Yamatama, attended a Soundscape demonstration at the d&b office in Yokohama, they decided to look at the possibility of using the system for the band’s forthcoming shows at EX Theater Roppongi. Commenting on his introduction to the d&b Soundscape, Sasaki says, “It creates sound images that I have never heard from any other system.”
The next step was for the band, along with their head of production Mr Nomura, to visit d&b in Yokohama to hear the system for themselves. Impressed, they returned for further demos using their own musical material and later, following a dry run in the demo room using the band’s FoH setup, the final decision to implement Soundscape was made.
The Soundscape Solution
The plan progressed rapidly with support from the d&b Japan Education & Application Support (EAS) team, led by Craig Lovell, who set about designing a Soundscape solution for the concerts. The venue was already equipped with a fixed d&b J-Series L/R PA system, but this could not be altered in terms of height, splay angles or horizontal alignment. Working with this existing system, the EAS team’s specification added three d&b Y-Series arrays between the left and right J arrays, creating a five-hang, 180-degree Soundscape system.
With a strong visual design element to Sakanaction’s performance, their stage set was dominated by a large upstage LED video wall, so to protect audience sightlines from the balcony level, the additional Y hangs needed to be flown high. This, in turn, called for further Y-Series cabinets to be added to each hang to maintain a seamless performance match with the coverage from the J arrays.
Front fill was provided by eight T10 loudspeakers positioned on the stage lip, while a further ten T10 loudspeakers were deployed on the auditorium’s side walls.
Discussing his experience of mixing for Soundscape at FoH, Sasaki says, “Soundscape offers excellent sound separation, which comes from the fact that it does not really ‘mix’ in the traditional sense. We usually mix instruments and sequences on the mixing console, and then send the outputs to the L/R loudspeakers. Soundscape, however, does not so much ‘mix’ as ‘locate’ the sounds that come from the console.”
Using d&b R1 remote control software, Sasaki assigned the locations of sound objects according to the performers’ positions on the stage. “For example, if the bass player is on the right side of the stage, I located her there on R1 as well,” he explains. “As a result, the entire audience benefits from hearing the bass sound directly from the position of the bass amplifier.”
Mixing on an Avid VENUE S6L console, Sasaki was able to control sound objects using the S6L’s d&b Soundscape control plug-in. “Its response was so quick and accurate that I could very easily and smoothly follow the movement of the vocalist,” he says.
The Audience Experience
For Sakanaction’s fans, Soundscape provided a completely new concert sound experience, which they shared enthusiastically via social media. From their comments on Twitter, praising “high resolution” and “immersive” sound, it was clear that they had recognized – and appreciated - Sakanaction’s very different approach for these shows.