For the September opening of the Jinan Olympic Center Donghe Stadium, China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism and the Shandong Provincial People’s Government co-sponsored a concert for an audience of 2,000 – the region’s first immersive orchestral performance. Yellow River Flowing Into the Sea featured an 800-strong chorus supported by orchestra of nearly 160, as well as guest appearances by famous singers. Flux:: Immersive Spat Revolution brought the audience ‘inside’ the music.

Yellow River Flowing Into the SeaFOH engineer Yong Xu mixed the show on an SSL L500 console with L100 sidecar, integrated with dual Spat Revolution workstations running i9 computers, while OB engineer Wenzhao Ma ran a DiGiCo SD7 Quantum, also using dual Spat Revolution system.

‘We divided the orchestra into 15 stereo stems and one mono stem to the FOH desk, and then flowed it into Spat using Madi,’ systems engineer Wenzhao Ma reports. ‘For the OB mix, I tried to put all the inputs into Spat, including background music, and ambient and audience mics. I did not use reverb tails on those elements, but I used the acoustic simulation in Spat’s room effect to leave early reflections to give a sense of space.’

The object-based FOH mix comprised more than 20 stems from the SSL, with Spat Revolution rendering the mix to the LCR system to provide imaging and acoustic simulation. At the OB position, a mix of 21 stereo stems and two mono stems from the DiGiCo console used Spat to render stereo, 5.1 surround, and full binaural synthesis mixes.

The show was Wenzhao’s first experience of Spat: ‘The functions are powerful, and the sound is amazing,’ he enthuses. ‘I really like the flexibility to be able to work in any configuration, even on headphones. Immersive and spatial audio is more than just a technical trick – it enables us to improve and enhance the sound and the performance by adding dimension. Spat gives me the flexibility to show the composers what surprises are possible with their creations.

Yellow River Flowing Into the Sea‘The Jinan Donghe Stadium is a normal sports venue, not really designed for music events,’ he continues. ‘We had to build a stage and create special rigs to hang the LCR loudspeaker system from a wire.’

Each column comprised six d&b audiotechnik GLS8 and two GSL12 boxes. Twelve SL-Subs were stacked in front of the stage. ‘We really wanted to hang the subs as well, to avoid too much low-frequency build-up in the front rows, but the weight restrictions prevented us from doing that,’ Wenzhao says. Two groups of side fill using SE Audiotechnik M-F3a units were processed in mono.

The live recording of the event also added to the challenges: ‘The event was being recorded for Blu-Ray, and the recording engineer Jakob Handel had specified using DPA4099 mics on the strings,’ Wenzhao says. ‘We were a bit concerned about capturing a good sound on the strings, as the mics also picked up much of the sound of the brass. But then we found that using Spat to add some natural depth and dimension to the strings solved the problem perfectly; I didn’t even need to any EQ to the strings.’

Wenzhao also gives high marks to the Flux:: Immersive team for support: ‘I think I have read almost an entire e-book from Hugo Larin and the rest of the team,’ he quips. ‘They really helped us a lot through a challenging set-up.

‘The show was a great success. I will most certainly be using Spat Revolution for future projects. Our team had the first application of Spat in China, and it is just the beginning. We have a studio in Beijing, and we will create a Spat set-up there. I have plans to use it for many coming projects.’

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