AES sections and audio students of all ages came out to hear theFits & Starts Productions’ surround sound seminar featuringengineers and surround authorities, part of their national tour.
Fits & Starts Productions conducts these free seminars foruniversity students and audio professionals with equipment fromcorporate sponsors: DTS (Digital Theater Systems), MaxVision, SteinbergNorth America, SRS Labs and Tannoy.
Tannoy is supplying seven of their WideBand Ellipse eighthigh-resolution monitors, all laser-aligned by Sokol in surroundconfiguration. A Tannoy PS 350B amplified subwoofer supplies LFsupport. During a tour stop in Nashville, the Tannoy's were positionedin the 975-seat Massey auditorium so as to create a "virtual room"within a room (as Sokol put it) by isolating the center seatingsection.
Sokol introed the new Ellipse monitors by explaining that they arecapable of full-bandwidth playback, flat out to 54 kHz, fortoday’s high-resolution formats, DSD and DVD-Audio. He alsoexplained that these high-res monitors realize benefits within thetraditional frequency range of 20 Hz–20 kHz.
“When you extend the bandwidth of any part of therecording/playback chain, you reduce in-band phase error,” hesaid. By moving either the CD’s low pass up (by using an SACD orDVD-A source) or the loudspeakers’ low pass frequency (by usingwideband-capable loudspeakers), sound will be improved. It’s notabout actually hearing information above 20 kHz, Sokol explained, somuch as it’s about the energy in-band at 20–20 kHz soundingbetter due to less phase error.
The Fits & Starts’ format for these seminars is informal,with frequent Q&A sessions. The purpose is to share audio knowledgewith seminar attendees so they can create their own music or sound efxprojects. “Rather than telling seminar participants how we create5.1 music,” Sokol says, “we show them how they can do itwith affordable equipment and the latest technology.”
And the seminar tours always have new techniques and audio toys toshow. A technique the Fits & Starts tours has been using for atleast three years never fails to impress their knowledgeable seminarattendees: triggering surround audio through the PowerPointpresentation. And Sokol explains how to do it.
A current toy is a new use for an iPOD. Sokol converts standard MP3stereo files to SRS Circle Surround encoded files and transfers them tothe iPOD. The iPOD has a transmitter (an “iTrip” fromGriffin Technology) allowing it to play through a surround soundreceiver—a Marantz SR9300 in the rack. The Circle Surroundencoded files, decoded by the receiver, play through the Tannoy Ellipse8 monitors—ok, five of the Tannoy Ellipse eightmonitors—and you are listening to surround from an iPOD.It’s not high-res, but it is cool.
The annual Fits & Starts regional tours run from September 2003through April 2004, and consist of six seminars in each region for atotal of 36 cities each year. The current Southeastern tour continueswith stops at Full Sail (Winter Park, FL), Jan. 26th; University ofMiami, Coral Gables, FL (Gusman Concert Hall), Jan. 27th; AppalachianState University, Boone, NC (Farthing Auditorium), Jan. 29th. The lowerMidwest-Texas region tour begins on Feb. 17th in St. Louis, MO.