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Dirac Helps 12 Soloists Sound Like a Full Orchestra

The first Symphonova Orchestra to utilize Dirac Live room correction technology will perform on Saturday, October 14, at the Herstmonceux Castle in East Sussex, England.

Dirac Research has partnered with Symphonova, a first-of-its-kind orchestra that blends the talents of 12 classical music soloists with a digital audio system comprised of custom-configured Symphonova Instrumental Loudspeakers, a gestural-based Symphonova Wand, and Dirac Live room correction technology.

Symphonova’s human-machine integration produces what the group calls a “world-class concert hall-caliber symphonic sound and experience” with only a fraction of the ensemble — the 12 soloists — and in any space, regardless of its acoustical imperfections, such as the cavernous ballroom of a 15th-century English castle.

“For centuries, world-class orchestras have performed in large, acoustically perfect concert halls capable of accommodating the large ensembles required to perform the music of masters like Berlioz, Mahler and Strauss,” explained Dr. Shelley Katz, the internationally acclaimed conductor and pianist who created the Symphonova. “Yet the acoustically perfect venue and the large ensembles — although required to produce a refined listening experience — can only be found in major metropolises and thus are inaccessible to the majority of the population.”

According to Katz, the human-machine integration of the Symphonova removes all limiting factors through its proprietary Symphonova digital audio system that creates the illusion of a full-scale ensemble through only 12 soloists while reproducing the acoustics of a concert hall in nearly any physical environment.

“Symphonova synergistically integrates the best of human creativity, through our 12 soloists; live control of timing and expression, through the Symphonova Wand and other wearable and sensor-based technology used by the Symphonist; and sound propagation, through our Symphonova digital audio system,” Katz said. “In doing so, we’re dramatically increasing the opportunities for musicians to perform, and we’re democratizing the modern symphonic experience by making it much more affordable and accessible to the general public.”

The Symphonova digital audio system is comprised of two primary components: the custom-designed Symphonova Instrumental Loudspeakers, each of which acts as a virtual soloist, and the Symphonova Virtual Acoustic System (SVAS), which is capable of producing perfect room acoustics in any environment. Each Instrumental Loudspeaker, rather than merely propagate pre-recorded music, is configured to mimic an individual instrument — be it a violin, a cello, or a French horn. These virtual soloists act as the perfect complement to the human ensemble.

The SVAS is comprised of both specially designed loudspeakers and the 8-channel Dirac Live-enabled digital signal processors manufactured by miniDSP that, when combined, deliver authentic and completely accurate room acoustics. According to Katz, it is Dirac Live, specifically, that ensures that the music produced by the Symphonova human and digital soloists is in acoustical alignment with both itself and the actual venue in which the Symphonova performs.

“It is Dirac Live that allows a Symphonova Orchestra that’s played in the acoustically flawed ballroom of the Herstmonceux Castle to sound as though it’s produced in London’s Barbican Centre concert hall,” Katz explained. “Dirac Live quickly and reliably measures the behavior of the loudspeakers in a given space, and then accommodates and adjusts their behavior based on the space’s size, shape and content, in a way not possible through any other room correction platform. Thanks, in part, to Dirac Live, the full symphonic experience is no longer reserved for the concert hall. It can now be staged in any size hall in virtually any city with an ensemble of passionate soloists led by a conductor willing to experiment with the future!”

Dirac Live is a patented room correction technology that not only corrects the frequency response, but also the impulse response of a room’s loudspeakers. It is designed to provide true impulse response correction over a large listening area, improving the depth, positioning, and distinction of individual voices and instruments. Using multiple measurement and mixed-phase correction, Dirac Live helps create a natural, realistic, and transparent sound with tighter bass and reduced room modes, in a way previously not possible.

“At Dirac, our goal is to partner with companies whose passion and drive matches our own, and we’ve found that with Dr. Shelley Katz and his team at Symphonova,” stated Niklas Thorin, Dirac Research general manager of high-performance audio. “We look forward to remaining a critical and valued member of their team and contributing to the company’s growth and development in all ways that we can.”

Katz noted that as society transitions from the digital revolution to the “imminently arriving AI-driven revolution,” it’s important to bear witness to examples of “peaceful and productive” human-machine collaboration, where human activity and experience isn’t replaced by but rather enhanced through digital-machine integration. “The Symphonova Orchestra of human soloists augmented by virtual instruments — both guided by the same Symphonist wielding a Symphonova wand — represents a model of synergistic hybridization. It represents an example of human-machine collaboration that actually creates new jobs and opportunities for those who work in our field, while simultaneously delivering a symphonic experience to the general public in towns and cities, regardless of their size, across the world.”

For more information on Symphonova’s October 14 performance at Herstmonceux Castle, click here.