Making its debut with an immersive concert by the Orleans jazz trio Akagera in February, the 360 Paris Music Factory has been bringing the immersive audio experience to the heart of Paris’ famed Barbès district. Akagera – Stéphane Montigny (trombone), Benoît Lavollée (vibraphone) and David Georgelet (percussion) – perform onstage at the front of the hall while their music emanates from seemingly everywhere in the space.

AkageraCreated using Flux::Immersive with 20 microphones onstage and as many speakers hanging in the room, percussion fills the rear of the auditorium, with trombone coming from in front and all sides, and while marimba and vibraphone floating above the crowd. It’s an experience that belies the senses and creates a sonic performance much larger than the three musicians themselves. ‘The objective is to wrap the spectator with music,’ says Lavollée.

While the trio released their first album, Serpente, as an immersive recording more than a year ago, the 360 Paris Music Factory show marked the first time the group performed their material in a venue specifically designed for the immersive experience. Audio engineer Jean-Loup Pacquais mixed the show from the centre of the room using Spat Revolution immersive mixing software from Flux::Immersive to move object-based elements within the 360° sphere.

‘I simply grab this object to move the trombone from left to right or front to back,’ Pacquais explains. ‘I take into account the ideas and desires of the artists, of course, but it’s me who has the final say.’

360 ParisThe surround system in 360 Paris Music Factory is purpose-designed to create an immersive experience for every seat in the house. ‘It is the first concert hall in France to have a fully integrated system designed for complete sonic immersion of the audience,’ reports Jean-Michel Gaché, who supervised the design of the set. The immersive mix creates an entirely new sonic and musical impact, enhancing harmonies and adding transience to the band’s unique European-African sound.

‘Three-dimensional sound is not new, but it has been tremendously under-used in music, and particularly in jazz,’ observes Akagera drummer and leader, Georgelet. The group has long embraced innovative new technologies in their work, and partnered with Flux early on to implement their software in performances. The three musicians and the three engineers have become a closely-knit team.

As the band prepares to tour later in 2020, Benoit acknowledges that not all venues will be equipped to handle the immersive sound. ‘When the rooms are not equipped, it’s long and complicated to set up a surround system,’ he remarks. The ability to expand and collapse the mix configuration via Spat Revolution is an essential component in adapting to different spaces.

As large-scale immersive systems become commonplace, the ability to bring the experience to a smaller audience is one whose time has come, Georgelet concludes: ‘It is important to democratise this type of technique, and Flux::Immersive has been a big part of that. We hope that it will spread quickly in the world of music.’

More: www.fluximmersive.com

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