London, UK
June, 2021
  • Dome construction We built the dome using the same kit provided by Build with Hubs. We again cut them at a single point in the correct ratio to waste no wood (1179 vs 1221mm for short and long segments).
  • Speaker Rig This was the first iteration with a full 3D speaker configuration. We used 32 speakers (Presonus 3.5 active monitors), and a single active subwoofer (Presonus Sub8). The config. was: 10/10/10/2
  • Sound card We used a 24 output soundcard by Cymatic (Utrack 24) tethered to a second Cymatic soundcard with 16 outputs (Cymatic LP16), running from a Macbook Pro
  • Software We chose Reaper as our DAW, as currently that is the cheapest of very few DAWs that support 3D audio beyond the standard formats (Dolby Atmos etc). Reaper is also very flexible and customizable.
  • Lighting. We made a decision to focus on sound for the next few iterations to fully understand the possibilities and potential of extreme spatial audio before adding a visual/ lighting dimension.

To accommodate a semi-permanent set up of the KA in Ed’s spare room (my studio in the crypt of a church in Highbury proved too low and narrow), Ed had calculated a maximum size of 2.8m-ish diameter, large enough to get a good separation between loudspeakers on each node, but a minor challenge to squeeze in and out of. While the KA could in principle hold 41 speakers, we decided to start with a 32-channel set up. To be able to drive 32 discrete channels of sound, a suitable sound card/ audio interface was required. The most cost effective solution we found was to use two sound cards, the LP-16 and Utrack24 by Cymatic. On the software side, to be able to create content which could be dynamically distributed across our 32 channels, we used the digital audio workstation (DAW) Reaper whose native plug-in Reasurround is a very capable and flexible surround panner. In Reasurround, a maximum of 64 tracks can be positioned and moved around any point in an XYZ environment, and an unlimited number of output channels can be assigned and positioned within the same XYZ geometry. 

With the near full 3D speaker setup, we clearly pushed the envelope of sound experience beyond KA2. We played around with pop tracks by Ariana Grande, sonic experiences compiled of samples and field recordings and spatialized orchestral works. Some workled better than others, but it was beyond doubt that the listening experience was exponentially more immersive than the dusty 5.1 or Dolby Atmos, and we now had a setup ready to be tweaked and expanded.