Experiencing art on a grand scale with the d&b Soundscape

© Credit - Alicia Canter

It was an evening of high emotion at the Royal Albert Hall as a crowd of 5000 guests gathered to hear Nitin Sawhney perform his debut album Beyond Skin, twenty years after its initial release. This was the first time that Nitin's celebrated work was performed live in its entirety. Described pre-show by TV & Radio Presenter, Nikki Bedi, as “life-defining for people across the globe,” the famous London venue’s auditorium was an fitting setting for such a memorable night.

From the outset, it was clear that this was no ordinary show for Nitin and his crew. A bustling stage plot maximized every available inch to accommodate an ensemble of musicians, the London Contemporary Voices choir, and numerous special guests.

In terms of the number of performers on stage and overall ambition, this was the largest show Nitin has delivered to date maintaining a close connection to the audience was still paramount for the artist. To achieve an intimate feel in such a large space the team around FOH engineer David McEwan chose to use the d&b Soundscape which he had experienced earlier in the year at the d&b Soundscape stage at WOMAD Festival.

I first heard Soundscape at WOMAD 2019 where I was completely seduced by the mix I heard for Saving Grace. It exceeded my expectations of how good immersive sound could be and especially outdoors at a festival! The placement of instruments and voices was beautifully defined and aligned with what I was seeing. Having the opportunity to use Soundscape at the Royal Albert Hall for Nitin Sawhney was an easy decision to make and the show was a massive success.David McEwan, FoH Engineer
© Credit - Alicia Canter

McEwan opted for a 180-degree Soundscape system, delivered through five hangs of d&b V-Series, supplementing the Royal Albert Hall's permanently installed d&b system. The DS100 signal engine sat at the heart of proceedings, providing object-based mixing functionality, integrated with the d&b R1 Remote control software, controlled with a touchscreen.

Jay Jones, Project Manager at The Royal Albert Hall, recalls, "The team have spent many years contending with overnight load-ins and resultant compromises. With Nitin's Soundscape show using our award-winning in-house sound system as a starting point, so much of the necessary infrastructure was already in place. It makes for a much cleaner and much more consistent experience all round."

Following the performance audience members' impromptu visits to the sound desk were welcomed, with many intrigued and in some cases confounded by what they had just heard. For McEwan, it's straightforward:

Soundscape enabled me to produce the most immersive, open sounding mix I've ever delivered. It can position sound sources as you see them and thus helps to form a very natural connection to the listener. It's the way I want to hear every gig that I do.David McEwan

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