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Thread: Experience live surround sound?

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    Smile Experience live surround sound?

    Hi,
    I'm doing some research for an MA thesis and I'd like to chat with anyone who's had experience of surround sound in live performance. Could be as a performer or in the audience. I'm particularly interested in the systems used, the success of it (and how you might measure that) and if the performer felt it improved the listeners enjoyment of the performance, was it worth it?
    Did anyone ever make the Floyd Quad gigs??

    Thanks for your time.

    lacroix:

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    Default Re: Experience live surround sound?

    Yes, I've seen Pink Floyd live twice with their surround systems. So have many other QQ members. Feel free to ask anything. Also a "Laserium" Laser Show in Quadraphonic in 1979 in San Francisco:
    http://www.laserium.com/schedules/SF_sched.html

    Here is a reported set-up of the PF shows. Interesting article by Alan Parsons: "Four Sides Of The Moon originally published in Studio Sound magazine (now defunct), June 1975." http://www.stereosociety.com/FourSides.html
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    Default Re: Experience live surround sound?

    I saw Floyd for the "Momentary Lapse" tour and they had a quad setup. It didn't work in the cavernous CNE Stadium. We were on the "right speaker" side, and everything else was delayed about 1 second compared with our speakers . The bass during One Of These Days was right behind us and it was so off due to the delay that it sounded like a giant mess.
    Getting it done in 5.1 !!!

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    Default Re: Experience live surround sound?

    RogerWaters in Barcelona in 2007.
    He had three surround speakers hanging from the ceiling , so they were not on the corners(about 3/4 of the way down from the stage) which was only used for special effects (which I think it's how it should be, shoiuld never have rhythm section, the delay would create havoc!).
    I was in the right side in front of the speakers, so the effects were audible but I didn't get the stuff from the Left Front.
    Awesome concert, BTW, DSOTHM live ...wowie!!!!
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    Thumbs up Re: Experience live surround sound?

    This is great guys.
    So the kind of things that would be really helpful would be: (and apologies if you've already answered any of these)
    Was the whole concert in 'surround' or just specific parts / or specific sounds?
    Did you feel that it added to your enjoyment of the concert experience or did it detract?
    To put it another way; did it work?
    Did you have any thoughts (or hard info) on the kind of panning or placement systems they were using? (I appreciate that mostly the concert goer wouldn't necessarily know this, but I guess some of you guys will have done some digging?)
    Or to put that another way; was it discrete (one sound/set of sounds being directed to one speaker set etc) or pair-wise / level only panning or using time delays or even some sort of ambisonic system?
    I am very interested in Floyd / Floyd offshoots (Gosh Roger would kill me for that!) But also I would love to hear about any other bands / concerts where this stuff had been tried (successfully or otherwise)

    I look forward to your responses;

    Cheers

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    Default Re: Experience live surround sound?

    Do you plan to expand the scope of your MA thesis to enquire about the live surround perception of the conductors of classical orchestras?
    They enjoy the best surround music but keep quiet about the topic of "real surround". I think they don't want to upset the centuries-old belief that the best seats to enjoy big orchestral music is somewhere in the middle of the hall, that the composers don't want (?) you to hear what the conductors hear... . Upsetting that belief might cut down the ticket sale substantially. Indeed, many music commentators or music magazine editors reinforce this old belief. They dismiss the in-the-middle-of-the-orchestra perspective as not the right way for a common person to enjoy classical music (see Mr. Kal Rubinson's post for that effect, for example, in the Tacet threat in this forum).
    I had a one-time experience of being on stage next to the conductor of an orchestra rehearsing a piano concerto, with musicians all around me and the piano at my back. The experience was immensely enjoyable, far superior than the perception I got when sitting in the "best seat in the hall". The victim of that eye-opening moment (I should say ear opening) is orchestral stereo CDs: I have stopped buying them since that day 11 years ago.

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    Default Re: Experience live surround sound?

    I was at a concert many years ago where electroacoustic music was performed, that is, what was previously known as "computer music". One of the performances where live mixed in surround (4.0, if I remember correctly) by the composer, and that is still one of the greatest concert experiences I have had. Unfortunately I do not have any information about the equipment.

    The composer is a Swedish guy named ┼ke Parmerud, and I think it was his work Les Objets Obscures that was performed.
    parmerud.com
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    Default Re: Experience live surround sound?

    Quote Originally Posted by Luong Ngoc Vo View Post
    Do you plan to expand the scope of your MA thesis to enquire about the live surround perception of the conductors of classical orchestras?
    They enjoy the best surround music but keep quiet about the topic of "real surround". I think they don't want to upset the centuries-old belief that the best seats to enjoy big orchestral music is somewhere in the middle of the hall, that the composers don't want (?) you to hear what the conductors hear... . Upsetting that belief might cut down the ticket sale substantially. Indeed, many music commentators or music magazine editors reinforce this old belief. They dismiss the in-the-middle-of-the-orchestra perspective as not the right way for a common person to enjoy classical music (see Mr. Kal Rubinson's post for that effect, for example, in the Tacet threat in this forum).
    I had a one-time experience of being on stage next to the conductor of an orchestra rehearsing a piano concerto, with musicians all around me and the piano at my back. The experience was immensely enjoyable, far superior than the perception I got when sitting in the "best seat in the hall". The victim of that eye-opening moment (I should say ear opening) is orchestral stereo CDs: I have stopped buying them since that day 11 years ago.
    Thats really interesting, I wasn't planning to, but this does suggest another parallel line of enquiry. I'll give this some thought Thanks.

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    Default Re: Experience live surround sound?

    Quote Originally Posted by lacroix View Post
    Thats really interesting, I wasn't planning to, but this does suggest another parallel line of enquiry. I'll give this some thought Thanks.
    Luong Ngoc Vo makes an excellent point about classical music and surround. Recently I’ve had the opportunity to see classical music performed by the San Francisco Symphony in their state of the art acoustically tuned theater.

    AFAIK there was no electronic amplification (not sure). Although I was in one of the back top rows, sound wise it sounded like at least 10 speakers were on the floor and 5 spread against the wall with sound filling the whole hall and some sound refection in the rear. You could hear each orchestra section and the violin soloist that that was used in one piece of music separately. When one clapped after a musical piece not only could I hear my clapping in front of me, but how it filled the room with all the other clapping. The hall is highly sensitive. Although the instruments were in front, musically it was very discrete sounding in a way that I’m not sure could be replicated even with 7.1 speakers unless careful panning was used and depending how the instruments could be recorded.

    Here are a few articles about the acoustics of the theater:

    http://www.panoscan.com/SFSymphony/Canopy.html

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louise_..._Symphony_Hall

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/articl...0/DD242012.DTL

    http://www.sfsymphony.org/about/Defa...b_8_18_btnlink
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    Default Re: Experience live surround sound?

    Fasinating stuff, OQG,,as always, your posts are n˙mero uno.
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    "LIFE is NOT in Stereo , it's in SURROUND, so why limit your music to stereo...? By that same train of thought we should've stayed in MONO..." -Me

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    Default Re: Experience live surround sound?

    Thanks kap'n krunch. Also, there is The Beatles "Love" live surround shows in Las Vegas put on by Cirque du Soleil: http://www.cirquedusoleil.com/en/sho...e/default.aspx

    There are threads about the project here at QQ and many of our members have seen this show.

    DVD-Audio info: http://www.cirquedusoleil.com/en/sho...oundtrack.aspx
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    Default Re: Experience live surround sound?

    I saw the Division Bell tour by Pink Floyd, and sat near the mixing board, which sounded perfect. I only wish they had done "On the Run". Saw Roger Waters on the last tour, and the most impressive sounds were on "Southampton Dock" from The Final Cut. The Dark Side tracks were ok, but not as nice as I would've liked.

    King Crimson's short 2008 tour as well, in NYC. There were speakers around the Nokia Theater, and worked best with Robert Fripp's soundscapes before the actual Crimson set. I couldn't tell during the actual Crimson set because I was sitting in the 3rd row on the right side of the stage.
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    Default Re: Experience live surround sound?

    Thanks for replies so far.
    What would be really interesting would be an idea (subjective I know) of the different 'listening experience' between a 'standard stereo' gig and one that had been configured as surround / quad etc.
    In other words:
    is the difference really noticeable (after all, with a 'stereo' system the engineer is aiming to fill the hall with sound - and often does so at the expense of clarity IMO)
    Do 'surround' gigs give the listener a 'better' experience (clearer, exciting, interesting, realistic (whatever that means!)
    or is it distracting?
    or is it, in fact, hard to tell the difference?
    Also if there is anyone out there who has been involved with the engineering or setting up of a surround / quad performance I would love to hear about the issues / disadvantages / advantages / feedback from band / audience.
    Sorry for the long 'shopping list' but please pick and choose what bits you like!!

    and thanks again.

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    Default Re: Experience live surround sound?

    It depends on too many factors. Where you are sitting being the most important, but also who is doing the mixing.

    For King Crimson, I was on the right, and couldn't tell during their actual set if there were surround effects. It was only in the beginning soundscapes. I didn't mind because our side had the only view or Robert Fripp, who was sitting behind one of the speakers out of everyone else's view!

    As for Pink Floyd, it was amazing. I didn't hear music from the sides constantly, mainly when there were effects. Waters' Madison Square Garden show, I was facing the stage near the back, and couldn't hear any surround effects. The Houston show was more noticeable, and again it was mainly for the effects. I never found it distracting. I thought Pink Floyd did the best job by far, and that was in 1994.
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    Default Re: Experience live surround sound?

    I saw Pink Floyd on their “Animals” tour and that was one of the best surround experiences. We had seats that were in the middle between what would be considered the right front/rear speakers, with the large surround speakers above us in four corners at the indoor Oakland Coliseum. In 1977 the Quad era seemed to be fading with the lack of releases by artists/labels. I looked for “Animals” in Quad (was not aware then a release was supposed to come) and like Aerosmith’s “Draw the Line” was disappointed to find no Quadraphonic versions. By then I already had all three PF Quad albums (not easy to find or know about back then as only WYWH was easily found at one’s local record store, the other two titles being imports here except Capitol Q8s) so I’m not sure what I expected from the concert when “Animals” was not released in Quad. I remember their performances in Quad were legendary when you asked anyone who saw them live back then.

    Anyway, they opened by playing the whole album of Animals in Quad, Wow! During the performance the music seemed to come from the stage and whole sections of songs from taped effects/live performance came discretely from the surround speakers. This was much, much larger than anything you could hear at home. It was a hell of a trip! The keyboards had this swirling effect through all the surround speakers that stopped you and the whole audience dead in your tracks. I remember David Gilmore saying the line “dragged down by the stone” and the sound effect of the word “stone” was repeating in the back channels in an ambient way. The keyboard/dog sound effects seemed to come from many different places around you so one had the uneasy feeling of being in an unfamiliar place because the soundscape was so large and three dimensional. It created a general unearthliness and yet because the music was familiar and being performed live organically the music was elevated to another place I doubt I’ll ever experience again. Words cannot express it. When the sheep sounds came in it sounded as if they had been recorded live out in a field with four different mikes with many bird and nature sounds all mixed in together all around you coming in and out unexpectedly. The delays in all 4 speakers of the sheep sounds was amazing and profound. All of this mixed in a way that you’re watching the band with the surround field flowing in and out in a natural way and yet moving into unearthly realities that messed with your senses. And we had already smoked a couple of “Columbian gold” joints! Next, WYWH (the whole album) was just as great in Quad, as were the other songs played after. Surround live definitely adds to a performance.
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    Default Re: Experience live surround sound?

    In regards to live performances and surround as a performer, it should be noted that many if not most Rock / Pop performers on stage do experience a form of surround as there are many amps/speakers in the back and sides of them with Foldback monitors in front of them if the venue has a decent PA system. Foldback (sound engineering) - Wikipedia : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foldbac...d_engineering)

    Depending on the size and acoustics of the venue the performer and audience hears sound reflections from the side and back walls. That’s why it’s odd that any Rock / Pop performer would not be hip to surround music. Perhaps it’s because of the loud noise of all the amps/drums and chaotic nature of performing Rock. Also, to preserve one’s hearing whether you’re performer or fan ear plugs of some sort should be used. I’ve been to many rowdy concerts at both large and small venues where the bands were not that loud and you could appreciate the environment and musicianship/sound. I’ve found performers / fans of classical music very receptive to the concept of surround sound perhaps due to the acoustic properties of it. Many classical SACD titles have Multi-Channel layers no problem still to this day.

    There was a small club in San Francisco called “The Sound of Music” that had a natural “killer” reverb surround sound that reflected from the back wall right back to the stage filling the whole room full of sound. The room was rectangular with little furniture, only a few small tables and chairs at the side walls. R.E.M. played there in 1982 a month after our band had as well as many other bands/artists. Most bands that played there were from the San Francisco early 1980’s Punk era.
    Last edited by Old Quad Guy; 05-18-2010 at 12:02 AM. Reason: broken link
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    Default Re: Experience live surround sound?

    I forgot a couple of things:

    There was a demo tape played before Floyd took the stage in 1994. After the sound guys played music over the pa (Hendrix's All Along the Watchtower got a huge cheer in Dallas), a tape with sounds of a lawnmower, birds chirping, running water, etc) was played to demonstrate the quad effects. The more people came in, the more they noticed it as it got louder and people began to cheer the surround tapes. When the lights dimmed, Astronomy Domine kicked in with the "sci fi" sound effects swirling as the planets floated by on the giant dome stage.

    Another band I remember using quad back in the late 80s and early 90s was the industrial band Skinny Puppy. The music was harsh and metallic industrial dance with samples of political protests and speeches bounced around. It lacked the subtlety of the Floyd demonstrations.
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    Default Re: Experience live surround sound?

    That sound effect tape with the lawnmower is available on the tail of the PULSE cassette in stereo. I think it was also included on the Rarities RoIO.

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    Default Re: Experience live surround sound?

    Quote Originally Posted by lacroix View Post
    Hi,
    I'm doing some research for an MA thesis and I'd like to chat with anyone who's had experience of surround sound in live performance. Could be as a performer or in the audience. I'm particularly interested in the systems used, the success of it (and how you might measure that) and if the performer felt it improved the listeners enjoyment of the performance, was it worth it?
    Did anyone ever make the Floyd Quad gigs??

    Thanks for your time.

    lacroix:
    I think you need a good definition of surround sound. Fundamentally, we hear the world in surround sound all the time even if we are not always consciously aware of it. The very fact that any musical performance sounds different in different venues confirms this. Now, you can define surround sound as limited to situations in which discrete sounds originate from other than the frontal plane but, even there, the acoustics of the environment cannot be excluded.
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    Default Re: Experience live surround sound?

    In a week and a half, I am about to see Roger Waters perform The Wall live, and I hear great things about the sound mix from other show reviews.

    Old quad guy also mentioned a club in San Francisco that had a natural reverb. On the documentary about Arthur Lee and Love, the LA club Bido Lido's had the same effect back in 1965-66 when Love was the house band. I would've loved to have heard one of my favorite psychedelic bands play extremely loud with the sound reverberating off of the brick walls inside. Sounds perfect for that band.

    And I am of course envious of anyone having seen the 4 man Floyd back in the day...I was only 5 when Animals was touring. I can only imagine how amazing that must have been.

    I hope that someday I can catch Robert Fripp perform an entire set in quad since he still does the occasional show solo or with Theo Travis. The bits I remember of the soundscapes at the beginning of the King Crimson show were great.
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    Default Re: Experience live surround sound?

    Will you post your Thesis for us to digest after you get your degree?

    Then there's the whole psychoacoustics of "artificial" created sounds; beyond "fake" Q-sound, dynaquad, and all that - a multichannel creation with properly placed transducers and a single (or group) of listeners.
    What about tactile surround (LFE and lower)?
    How about preconceived expectations of those who have heard "stereo" for life and then hear the multichannel variant?
    What about issues in surround audio that cause occasional uncomfortable sensations and other psychological issues?

    Finally, is "live" surround really surround, or just total ambient audio - regardless of the performance and the venue, and the reproduction technology, it can not be recreated identically as is; so what about the "Simulation of reality" issue?

    From kids in headphones and a "balance" control, to the "Azimuth Coordinator" to Dolby in 70mm to DVD-A to spherical/ambisonics - yes, it's all moving air, but in between, it's electrons. Now that's the fun part...(!)

    Fascinating...

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    Default Re: Experience live surround sound?

    Quote Originally Posted by Old Quad Guy View Post
    I saw Pink Floyd on their “Animals” tour and that was one of the best surround experiences.

    Anyway, they opened by playing the whole album of Animals in Quad, Wow!
    You are a friggen legend. To have heard this. It must have been incredible. Are there any DVD-A recordings of Animals? Also. I think this thesis that the OP plans to do is totally amazing. Go for it man and shake the whole F'n industry....

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    Default Re: Experience live surround sound?

    Not to mention the second half with Wish You Were Here performed in its entirety, and Money/Us and Them as the encore.

    Someone made a DTS mix of Animals, but I wasn't impressed. There was a quad mix made but never released as it even had a catalog number. Wish You Were Here is said to be finished by James Guthrie, who is waiting for the go ahead to put it out. He said he wanted to do Animals as well because the drums "sound like hat boxes" in the stereo mix. I must admit, I like what Alan Parsons did for Dark Side and what Guthrie did for The Wall, but Brian Humphies was pretty lame for WYWH and Animals.
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    Default Re: Experience live surround sound?

    lacroix:

    How's the thesis going?
    A little of what you fancy does you good. (Or so it should.)
    Ian Anderson

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    Member omega4's Avatar
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    Default Re: Experience live surround sound?

    Interesting that no one has yet mentioned Emerson Lake and Palmer. As far as I know the whole "Brain Salad Surgery" tour in 1974 was in quadraphonic. Their show certainly was at Wembley Arena in London, and of course their "Welcome Back My Friends" live album is in quad on Q8. They had a conventional set up, i.e. a bank of speakers in each corner, and it was fantastic particularly at the end of Karn Evil 9.

    I also saw Floyd on the Animals tour at Wembley. Their quad system was different as it has a bank of speakers midway each side of the arena and a centre bank at the rear. Not as effective as i recall, but then it depended where you sat I suppose.

    The most recent surround concert was 5 years ago at the Royal Albert Hall - Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds. The surround speakers were used for effects and really worked well in adding atmosphere at the right points.

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