As you know, several weeks ago we started our new article series called Soundsystems. In it we give you information about some of the Bulgarian soundsystems, we take interviews with people, who have something to do with the Soundsystem culture and we showcase different Soundsystem festivals. Part of the series was this year's Outlook festival coverage. During our stay in Pula and Fort Punta Christo, we made sure to keep ourselves informed about the world of Sounsystem technology. We talked with a few artists, we felt the vibrations from every stage and we gathered the knowledge and ideas necessary to help us keep the series up.
It was exactly at Outlook festival when team members met Rog Mogale, founder of Void Acoustics. The company's products were present at three of the stages of the festival, the biggest of them being The Void. We invited Rog for an interview in which he could show us his concept of the products, the idea behind Void Acoustics and to ask him about some of the more specific moments in the feel and spread of the sound. The interview, although only 9 questions long, is pretty informative and is presented in an easy to perceive language. The whole conversation is below. Enjoy your reading!
|The new line array, Arcline 8, at TOKYO WORLD Festival|
Void Acoustics was formed in 2002 by Alex Skan and myself. We both felt there was a distinct lack of visually aware products for the install and live markets and that our combination of skills and abilities could offer something refreshing to an industry that was getting very complacent.
It was also apparent that most other designers in the field didn't have a broad enough skill set to take audio to the next level. I was very lucky that I had signed to the Moving Shadow record label back in 1991. The label was almost single handedly responsible for the emergence of Jungle, then Drum and Bass. I was also producing, recording and engineering other similar genre artists and remixing for other labels. I think this gave me a really good understanding of the other side of the industry and has shaped me in a very different way from other audio designers today.
Currently Void offer excellently crafted products that both look and sound good. The speakers are being manufactured at the Void factory and are designed by you. Apart from the good looks, what's key for a great sound system?
I see a sound system like a roller coaster; it's there to give you a ride, an experience that you can't get any other way. It must also at the same time be capable of communicating the intent of the artist and performer. I think sound systems that are just faithful reproducers of the source don't go far enough to fully immerse you. Their targets of low distortion and the ultimate fidelity mean they can't have a soul or add colourations that enhance your experience. I don't design for the lowest amounts of distortion as I know it's a part of life. You would never tell a person who uses a synthesiser to only play pure sine waves and to not use square and triangle waves and not to use envelopes and filters to shape the sound. In the same way a sound system needs to enhance the source to give the ultimate experience and whichever way you choose to do that is the right way. The goal is a communication of ideas whilst temporarily removing you from reality. When I'm in front of a system that's been designed to achieve the ultimate fidelity and purest reproduction it doesn’t turn me on, it just sounds good. I'd rather be in front of a system that is the aural equivalent of an orgasm.
A couple of weeks ago you came back from Outlook where you powered three of the stages (The Void, The Garden and Noah's Ballroom). What are your impressions of the festival? How did the sound systems perform and how did the audience accept it?
I totally love Outlook Festival. I love it for its freedom and diversity. I think it's one of the few remaining festivals where you are not restricted by health and safety constraints and that makes for a very rare spectacle these days. I was very happy with the sound and way the systems performed on all the stages Void was used on. That consistency was down to Neuron Pro Audio and the way that they set up for the festival. They have a lot of experience with the types of music played at Outlook and have a great knowledge of Void products. They simply know how to get the best from Void systems and use that to give an awesome experience to the audience.
I can't speak for others but from talking to people and reading online forums it appears tha everyone loved all the stages Void was present on. The favorite seems to be The Void stage, with one person on Facebook saying "The Void was such a crisp stage; I didn't know music could be like that. Shout out to the sound engineers that were constantly running around and keeping the sound perfect at all times."
Are there Void Acoustics products for mass use? Do you offer any goods different to speakers, mixers, amplifiers, etc.?
Not yet but there are plans to offer high powered home sound systems in the future. The kind of system you can turn up in a large room with your friends and have a party without the fear of the system destroying itself. Maybe something like a powered Indigo system with built-in DSP.
As you are an engineer working on powerful sound systems, I'd like to ask you something about ear protection. Do you advise people to wear ear plugs when at a club and/or festival and how important is it for the earplugs to be of good quality and to offer higher protection?
I think it depends of the SPL at the venue, the experience you want and how comfortable the levels are. If the system has noise level constraints in place, as it usually is no more than 90dB C weighted then I don't think you are at danger as long as you keep your exposure times down. If it's so loud that you feel discomfort then it's either wear earplugs or get out of there. It's a shame when it gets to that point and clearly shows the systems operators are not being responsible. I don't see the point in trying to hurt people with a sound system and would just leave if I thought the operators were not acting with the audiences best interests at heart. If in doubt wear ear plugs or leave if you feel it's too much. You don't get a second chance when it comes to hearing loss.
In an ideal world every person that is going to be near a loud sound system should carry a pair of ACS ER20 earplugs. If you still want to hear the audio with the same spectral balance then you are looking at custom molded ACS or Sensorcoms, but as these start at around 200 Euros they only seem to get used by professional musicians and system engineers. If the worst comes to the worst and you have no other option then using single use yellow foam earplugs is better than nothing. There is no guarantee with these as how they fit is down to how well you can insert them. If you're in front of loud systems often then you really owe it to yourself to get at least something as good as the ACS ER20s.
We observe more and more ravers who get as close as possible to the speakers during parties. As far as I know, a sound wave is basically a sinusoidal wave and we cannot be sure that the closer you are to the speaker, the clearer the sound will be. How far should one stand in order to experience a sound system at its fullest?
There is no single answer to this. As sound obeys the inverse square law, it will always get quieter the further you are from the source. There is also no magic distance where all the bass waves fully emerge. You can prove this by being in a very small car or room and still being able to hear 30Hz; the same is also true of headphones. In fact the smaller the space the easier it is to reproduce lower frequencies due to transfer function. At 40Hz, the corresponding wavelength is 28 ft. If the wavelength is longer than the maximum dimension of the space you are in then you will perceive 12dB per octave of gain at and below this frequency. So the real question is how loud do you want to experience the sound. If you want it louder, get closer.
Besides Outlook, you are also in charge of other festivals sound. Have there ever been issues, such as damaged speakers due to untactful artists and fans?
Sound systems have been under the control of limiters for many years now, so damage and failures are rare these days. We also prefer operators to use our own amplifiers as these come with our DSP settings for the particular enclosures. The DSP not only provides crossover points and FIR equalisation, but can have the amplifiers output voltage adjusted to match that of the enclosure. This ensures that amplifier and loudspeaker combination can never be damaged. The DJ can still redline or clip the output of the mixer, but this will not result in any failures. The sound will just start to turn bad and any good DJ will recognise this and back off a bit.
During the last night at Outlook I noticed you didn't cover the speakers as it started to rain (while some of your colleagues at the other stages did). How resistant are your products to climate changes?
Most of the Void touring enclosures are horn loaded, which means there are no direct radiating elements in the system. This gives a high degree of resistance to rain and changes in climate. The enclosures are also sprayed with a very tough polyurea rubber type coating which further keeps out moisture and water from the enclosures woodwork. For our outside installation range of loudspeakers, we employ many techniques and weather protected materials to ensure they perform in adverse conditions. This might include using recessed waterproof connectors and applying doping to any paper cones that could be in contact with rain.
Thank you for the time you gave us! Wish something to the readers...
Just hope everyone has a great time at any festivals and clubs they are going to and be safe.
In the end of the article we will give you some information about Void's latest product. We're talking about Arcline 8. Here's some specific information about it, courtesy of Rog Mogale:
The two 8" low-mid drivers, two 8" high-mid high-mid drivers and two 1.4" high frequency drivers deliver a true 110 degree dispersion and results in a highly uniform polar pattern that allows all of the audience members to experience uniform sound quality across the entire sound field. Traditional high frequency driver spacing and path length compensation among line source enclosures has almost always meant a compromise in high frequency performance; and therefore a new design of horn mouth was employed for the Arcline 8, with the common virtual feed point generating flat response up to 21kHz, even when multiple enclosures are coupled. The ability of multiple Arcline 8 enclosures to form a true cylindrical wavefront is key to their exceptionally smooth transition from near to far-field coverage.
The lightweight 15mm (5/8") birch plywood enclosure is finished in a textured polyurethane finish, and features a unique flying system that allows rigging angles to be pre selected before the flying the system. Two Neutrik speakON™ NL4 connectors provide input and link through connections. Arcline 8 can be both ground stacked and flown for maximum versatility.
2 x 1.4'' HF compression drivers
2 x 8'' mid drivers with phase shading device
2 x 8'' horn loaded low frequency drivers
35kg box weight
110 degree dispersion
2 way (internal passive between mid/hf)
16 ohm box
Integrated Rigging system
Rigging angle pre selected before you lift the boxes
12 box max hang