Innovason, Lawo, Neumann, Sennheiser Complete 'Origin of Sound' Seminars

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Lawo’s Marcel Babazadeh presents an "Origin of Sound" workshop

Lawo console brand Innovason teamed up with Neumann and Sennheiser to present six workshops in six different venues across Europe entitled “The Origin of Sound.” Driven by Lawo’s Marcel Babazadeh, himself a tonmeister and accomplished classical musician, the aim of the tour was to explore the secrets of creating the best possible sound for classical music with a live P.A. system.

“The ‘origin of sound’ can be interpreted in many different ways,” explains Babazadeh. “On one side is the equipment, which includes the musical instrument itself as well as the technology used to transmit the sound. On the other side there is the musician and the sound engineer who express the music through their use of this equipment. The ultimate goal, of course, is to satisfy the audience. This can be quite a challenge in the case of classical music where typically, discerning audiences are accustomed to good concert hall acoustics.”

“Our goal was to explore all the different facets of this work, which is quite specific, and present them to a broader public of sound engineers in a manner which would capture their imagination and offer some unique experiences and insights along the way.”

The tour covered six different locations with each seminar focusing on a different type of instrument: drums and percussion; woodwind instruments; brass instruments; piano; strings; and finally, the human voice. Each seminar included an exclusive visit to an instrument makers' premises to see how the instruments were made and then hear them played by professional musicians.

The second part of the day was dedicated to miking techniques, setting up the console, tuning the P.A. system, and more. World class classical engineers including Carsten Kümmel and Thomas Mundorf were on hand to explain and demonstrate the intricacies of their various techniques—including the new Pandora panning algorithm on the Eclipse GT—to achieve the goal of perfect orchestral sound. Other VIP guests who also shared their expertise were Norbert Ommer, sound designer for Ensemble Modern and artists including the legendary Frank Zappa and Karlheinz Stockhausen; Martin Hildebrand, sound designer and supervisor of the Schleswig Holstein festival and other events for classical music such as Viva Verdi in Zurich; Thomas Kellner, monitor engineer for violinist David Garrett; and Holger Schwark, sound engineer and sound designer for both classical events and pop acts alike.

“It was an extraordinary journey,” says Babazadeh. “In combining the pure ‘technical’ side with the philosophy of how a musical instrument is created and seeing it firsthand, we moved our participants’ awareness levels onto another plane. Many were so fascinated that they came back time and again to hear our experts speak, experiment with mic placement and try out the console. As a purely commercial exercise it was far more effective than the standard demo tour. And from a human perspective it was both an enlightening and enriching experience for all concerned.

"The idea of tracing the thread of how sound is created right back to the piece of wood or metal from which the instrument is built, and then following it all the way through until the sound reaches the audience at a classical festival, really got everyone thinking. It opened their eyes—and ears—to all sorts of new concepts and brought a whole lot of things into focus that they’d not considered before. In particular, it generated a real appreciation for the detailed work of all our guest engineers who were able to demonstrate how best to make use of the tools afforded to them by their equipment, and why they are such renowned and sought-after engineers in the field of classical music.”

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