Sound Wave Spotlight With HOLOPLOT

HOLOPLOT graphic

Name: Gareth Davies
Title: Lead Projects Engineer

rAVe [PUBS]: Tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do at HOLOPLOT.

GARETH DAVIES: I’m the projects lead at HOLOPLOT, overseeing a team of project engineers located in both our Berlin headquarters and our offices in Las Vegas. The team oversees projects from the earliest stages right through to the installation and commissioning phase, creating system designs and simulations, as well as educating our partner network and supporting the wider HOLOPLOT user base. I have extensive design and consultancy experience across numerous high-profile projects and specialize in environmental and architectural acoustics.

rAVe [PUBS]: How does your company approach product development and innovation to ensure your audio solutions remain at the forefront of technology?

GD: HOLOPLOT is a software-first company. Since 2011, we’ve been working on radically transforming audio technology by re-thinking the underlying physics of sound reproduction. Our journey began with Wave Field Synthesis, a principle often seen as the holy grail in audio theory, but full of pitfalls and challenges in practice. Helmut Oellers, the founding father of HOLOPLOT technology, took Wave Field Synthesis, turned it into the Matrix Array, and merged it with additional signal processing and audio beamforming capabilities.

Following years of research and development, our team of engineers has built much further on Helmut’s ideas. Today we’re proud to be able to offer a revolutionary solution, based on a combination of our proprietary patented work and state-of-the-art technologies. Powerful, simple-to-use products and tools, which allow the creation of unparalleled audio experiences.

rAVe [PUBS]: In what ways do you prioritize user experience and ease of integration for ProAV professionals when designing your audio equipment?

GD: HOLOPLOT technology is centered around the user experience with a fundamental design philosophy that provides users with maximum control over sound. Our technology can direct sound precisely where it is needed in a venue and avoid areas where it is not required.

Unlike conventional technology, where the area covered by a loudspeaker or array is predefined, HOLOPLOT enables sound to be beamed like light, offering great flexibility, particularly for venues with frequently changing show formats or layouts.

Our sound system design software, HOLOPLOT Plan, makes our technology accessible. It features an easy-to-use interface and is driven by a simple philosophy: define the areas to cover with sound and those to avoid. The software then creates optimized sound beams to ensure the greatest level of homogeneity and spectral uniformity in the defined coverage area while reducing sound levels in the areas to avoid. Working with Matrix Arrays may still be new and requires you to rethink how to approach a design, but our intuitive software makes this advanced high-tech accessible to anyone.

rAVe [PUBS]: What is the greatest challenge audio professionals currently face and why?

GD: Controlling sound emissions. HOLOPLOT is leading the way in sound control, effectively reducing noise breakouts from venues. There has recently been a dramatic increase in the number of requests to improve the noise breakout from both venues and festival sites within close proximity to residential dwellings. There are a number of large festival sites that are in danger of losing their operating licenses if they are unable to comply with the noise breakout limits imposed by the local authority. HOLOPLOT have the technology to make dramatic improvements here and we’re continuously developing the technology further to provide the industry with the perfect solution.

rAVe [PUBS]: In your opinion, what is the number one trend shaping the future of pro audio right now and how is HOLOPLOT positioned to capitalize on this trend?

GD: There are two main trends that I see as defining pro audio in the live events space right now.

First, I think there’s a race to entice audiences back to live performance venues with the offer of a heightened experience, whether that be a greater connection to the artist on stage using immersive technologies to grab the attention of audiences via strong visuals (lighting/LED) or to envelop them in sound. HOLOPLOT addresses this trend by offering best-in-class intelligibility. If audiences can hear every word, they immediately feel closer to the stage. By adding audio localization via a distributed system or by using sound reflections off the walls of the venue and combining this with our signature beam optimization, HOLOPLOT can create a seamless canvas on which to pan audio objects reducing hotspotting and increasing the so-called immersive sweet spot.

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Secondly, I see an increased tendency of venues adopting a multi-purpose character to maximize revenue. During the day the venue might host film screenings, whereas at night the program features live music or comedy — music and speech. Or exhibition centers wanting to provide cutting-edge infrastructure for their customers that allows them to turn the venue into a conference, a fashion show or other product launch venue featuring live entertainment. HOLOPLOT technology can be set up and programmed using presets within the software, allowing venues to switch use types at the click of a button — all without having to bring in additional equipment or even touch the hardware saving time and reducing hire cost and requirement for additional crew.

rAVe [PUBS]: What are some new audio initiatives or innovations coming up from HOLOPLOT?

GD: HOLOPLOT has revolutionized sound control and speech intelligibility. Launching our X2 system has made us more accessible to more applications. In contrast to X1, X2 is a more compact Matrix Array that allows the user to benefit from the same sound control capabilities even in smaller spaces and we’re working on further products to extend our portfolio.

As mentioned previously, we’re a software-first company. It’s our software innovations and upgrades which ensure continuous advancement and improvement of our products. We’ve recently launched a major upgrade to our operating system. OS2.0 is available to existing and new users of HOLOPLOT, giving them access to enhanced capabilities and processing features — all without needing to replace any physical speakers.

rAVe [PUBS]: Anything else you’d like to add?

GD: Audio technology and more specifically loudspeaker technology has sat dormant for a long time while video and lighting technology evolved at a ferocious pace. Although line array systems have improved and the use of array processing continues to optimize performance, fundamentally, the technology has not advanced significantly since the 90s.

In recent times, the biggest shift in audio has been in signal flow, with Audio over IP (AoIP) becoming the norm in the live events, corporate AV and broadcast sectors. Engineers have had to upskill to learn about networking and venue IT infrastructure, which wasn’t part of the curriculum when I studied sound technology over 20 years ago. This advancement in technology has been one of the biggest challenges for engineers but has also allowed engineers a much greater level of control and freedom in setting up their routing and signal flow. AoIP and remote monitoring of systems also provide engineers with visibility into the signal integrity and health of all aspects of their audio ecosystem, enabling them to identify faults and carry out system maintenance much more efficiently. The industry’s challenge is to design systems that integrate simply into existing networks with a user interface that does not require a degree in computer networking to make it operational.

HOLOPLOT has taken advantage of this technology, integrating system health monitoring and predictive maintenance into our HOLOPLOT control software. The AoIP protocol can either be Dante or RAVENNA and allows engineers to easily assign inputs not to individual arrays but to individual beams, of which there can be multiple per array. This capability enables engineers to create unique and sophisticated sound designs, elevating audio technology beyond its stagnant state of the last 30 years.