Tag Archives: audio

Noise Monitoring at Balter Festival

Two students from Media Technology drove to Chepstow earlier in the month to provide noise monitoring services with Vanguardia Consulting at Balter Festival. The festival ran between 2nd and 4th June and describes itself as a “travelling convoy of misfits and weirdos, wacked-out racers and disco divas”. According to their website to Balter is “to dance artlessly, without particular skill or grace, but always with great contented enjoyment”. There were 14 stages featuring over 60 artists of a reggae-electronic ilk.

Photo Credit: Marco Antonio Campagnuolo 

Marco and Rianna were on hand to ensure that the merriments could be as intense as possible without adversely affecting local residents. They were monitoring sound pressure levels off site and liaising with front of house to subtly control levels. Marco commented how the knowledge from his Audio Engineering course helped him to understand how to apply targeted frequency equalisation and multiband compression to get the best possible experience within the space.

Media Technology students usually get involved with noise monitoring at a number of festivals over the Summer thanks to our links with Vanguardia and Solent Acoustics.

A Headphone HAT-Trick

A hat-trick of staff from Media Technology went up to G.R.A.S. Sound in Vibration in Bedford yesterday (15/05/17) for a series of seminars on headphone and headset measurements. Matt, Lee and Paul attended sessions on headset test systems and tools, learning about the latest improvements to ear couplers and anthropometric pinna. They saw a range of their tests fixtures from the fully-fledged KEMAR Head and Torso Simulator (HATS) – aimed at research and design applications – to simple flat-plate systems for checking consistency in production lines. It was a great opportunity to see some technical data on the systems and understand how they relate to current standards. There were interesting discussions around testing Bluetooth and noise cancelling headphones as well as the importance of phase response and filtering in high resolution audio.


AES Up Your Output! 2017

Southampton Solent University was pleased to host the Audio Engineering Society’s Up Your Output! event this past weekend 18th & 19th of March, co-organised by the University of Southampton’s Institute of Sound and Vibration (ISVR). This annual event, which has run since 2011, offers students and recent graduates the opportunity to learn, network, and develop both friendships and career opportunities.

This year’s event included a student poster competition, where students from across the country exhibited their project work in the form of an academic poster. There were great prizes including plugin packs from sponsors Acustica, iZotope and Solid State Logic.

The event featured a number of keynote speakers namely:

  • Barry Grint (Alchemy Mastering). “Old is the new New – Mastering for Vinyl in 2017“
  • Adam Sawkins (Independent Games Developer). “Boy is a car complicated – Developing audio engines for driving games“
  • Jim Simmons & Adam Wisbey (BBC R&D) “Audio for mobile: Loudness standards for online streaming, and its effects on portable devices”
  • Rob France (Dolby Laboratories) “No Going Back – Immersive audio for live Sports”
  • Charlie Slee (Big Bear Audio) “This little bear went to market – taking a product from the drawing board to the marketplace“
  • Simon Short (Focusrite) “This is the future – how Audio over IP has changed the design of Live and Studio workflows”
  • Varun Nair (Facebook VR). “Making it Real – Audio for Virtual Reality”
  • Kyriakos Papanagiotou (KP Acoustics). “A unified approach to acoustics – Echotectonics, Soundscapes and Acoustic Particles”

And workshops:

  • Live Sound Workshop: Andrew Horsburgh (Front of House engineer for Sundara Karma) and Tim Southern (Front of House Engineer for Gengahr).  Sponsored by Harman International (mixing desk) and d&b Audiotechnik (sound reproduction)
  • Mastering workshop: Ioana Barbu (Bauer Media)
  • Transaural audio – Development of a 3D soundbar: Marcos-Simon Galvez. (ISVR)  Sponsored by ISVR, University of Southampton)
  • Audio For Games workshop: Chris Barlow (Solent Acoustics). Introduction to integrating the Wwise Audio Engine and Unreal 4 games engine.
  • Audio Test and measurement: Graham Boswell (Prism Sound).   Sponsored by Prism Sound
  • Pure Data – Zero to Hero: Andy Farnell
  • Careers in the audio and music products business: Richard Wear and Jo Hutchins (Interfacio).  Sponsored by Interfacio
  • Transmission Line vs Sealed cabinet vs ported reflex design: Ian Downs (PMC).  Sponsored by PMC Loudspeakers
  • Optimising your studio monitoring – speakers, acoustics and room calibration: Paul Mortimer (Emerging UK).   Sponsored by Trinnov/PSI
  • Delighted audience. Happy neighbours: Oran Burns (d&b audiotechnik).   Sponsored by d&b audiotechnik
  • Guitar Speaker measurements – from Anechoic to Studio. Andrew Harper (Celestion).    Sponsored by Celestion
  • Integrated & Holistic Sound System Design in Buildings. Andy Lambert (Arup)  Sponsored by Arup Acoustics

The conference featured a large 24 channel spatial audio array in the main atrium. This was used for a soundscaping installation throughout the week leading up to the event and delegates were treated to a live 3D music performance within the array on the Saturday evening. Recordings were also presented by David Monacchi, Dr Chris Barlow and Sebastiane Hegarty.

The event was enjoyed by a good number of delegates and the organisers would like to thank the many sponsors that made it possible:


Industry Visit to Naim Audio

On Friday 17th March 2017 a group of Media technology students descended on Naim Audio’s headquarters in Salisbury for a tour of their manufacturing facilities and a demonstration of their flagship ‘Statement’ product range. Naim design and manufacture high-end hi-fi amplifiers and loudspeakers with a focus on precision engineering. The students were shown around by Live and Studio Sound graduate Will McKeand who is now a software test engineer at Naim. Will never expected to work in a research and design environment but appears to be making excellent use of the skills and knowledge acquired during his time at Solent. Our thanks go to Naim and Will for your hospitality and insights.

Photos: Tom Rogers

Ambisonics in the Spark

Students from the Media Technology programme were on hand to help install a 24 channel ambisonic rig in the University’s Spark building last week 13th March 2017. The rig was used for a sound scape installation and featured at the AES conference over the weekend. Ambisonics systems provide a truly spherical sounds field sound sources appearing above and below the listener as well as across the horizontal plane. This provides a much more immersive listening experience with distinct sounds appearing from any point around the listener. From the mixer’s perspective they are no-longer constrained by loudspeaker positions and can focus on localising sounds instead.

Students from across the year groups and pathways erected the 7 x 7 x 3 meter scaffolding, installed the loudspeakers and ran the cabling for the multichannel system. They were also on hand to help align and calibrate the system for optimal performance. Several of the students already had some experience of ambisonic rigs from a smaller setup in the department’s studios; all of the students involved will have benefitted from seeing some of the theory on spatial audio from the course put into practice on an unusually large scale. Many thanks to all those involved.

A Guest Speaker in Audio Systems

Today students studying Audio Systems were treated to a visit from a guest speaker. The Extron SI 26CT Ceiling Speaker dropped by to show off its coaxial dual driver design and switchable transformer for line distribution applications. The 6.5 inch woofer is situated directly behind a 1 inch titanium-coated dome tweeter in an attempt to provide accurate sound reproduction over a wide angle.

The unit houses a passive crossover to protect the tweeter from higher-power low frequencies whilst allowing its light weight diaphragm to concentrate on the fast turnaround required by higher frequencies. The woofer explains: “I can’t keep up with the rapid movements of HF and simply end up distorting the sound; I’m far more comfortable taking the power of LF and generating the longer wavelengths needed for bass”.

Key to SI 26CT’s visit was the concept of 100 V line distribution systems. A specialist amplifier is used to create high voltage, but low current signals to reduce losses over long cable runs. This is useful in applications such as shopping centres and airports where numerous loudspeakers are spread over a large area resulting in enormous cable runs. Each loudspeaker has its own step-down transformer to reduce the voltage and increase the current so that classic drivers can be used. The transformer reflects a high impedance to the amplifier, hence the current is reduced, but the same power is delivered to the load. Furthermore the SI 26CT features multiple taps on the secondary of the transformer which allows it to produce between 7.5 W and 60 W from the same amplifier. This means that the same amplifier and cable run can be used to supply louder and quieter loudspeakers depending on the throw distance and volume of the space. SI 26CT has found application in Europe at 100 V and in America where they tend to use 70 V systems.

There are alternative systems available, for example active loudspeakers could be used with a separate amplifier combined with each driver. This would allow more control over the output level from each driver but means every loudspeaker unit requires a power supply, which is expensive.

It was great to see an alternative style of audio installation and I’m sure we’ll see SI 26CT and his peers soon in classrooms and shopping centres around the local area.

Sound Advice from Vanguardia

Students from across the Media Technology programme got together on Wednesday 8th March for a talk by Warren King from Vanguardia Consulting. Vanguardia provide a range of electroacoustic and acoustic services to a wide range of industries but Warren came to talk specifically about environmental monitoring and assessment for music festivals. There were plenty of entertaining anecdotes from Warren’s decade of experience and undergraduates and graduates were also able to contribute their experiences of working with Warren and other companies. The students benefited from their insights into some of the technical and political considerations that are vital to running successful events. Students were also introduced to some of the innovations within the industry such correlation detectors to automatically locate and eliminate problematic sources of noise.

The talk was organised to further Solent’s long-standing and symbiotic relationship with Vanguardia. Warren largely came to recruit more students to work in noise monitoring at festivals over the Summer; he commented “Solent has been a great source for engineers as they have acquired many of the skills we are looking for. Media Technology students have 100 times more experience than several other courses.” There are a number of graduates currently employed at Vanguardia, whom Warren describes as ‘invaluable’. Graduate Mike Ledbetter also came to the talk. Mike works for another company but firmly believes his experience with Vanguardia during his time at Solent directly led to his current employment. It was also a pleasure to be joined by former Media Technology lecturer Jonty Stewart who now runs Wight Noise and attended as a consultant for Vanguardia.

It was great to see all three year groups so well represented and showing such interest in this large yet often understated sub-sector of the live sound scene. We’re sure they’ll have plenty of fun over the Summer and learn a lot whilst doing so.