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Revolutionizing Sound: Las Vegas Sphere Boasts Planet's Biggest 3D Audio

Posted on 
August 2, 2023

Las Vegas Sphere Touts World's Largest Concert-Grade 3D Audio System

The bowl-shaped venue will use audio beam-forming to allow every person to hear clear audio regardless of their location inside the venue.

By Josh Norem July 26, 2023

Original Article at: https://www.extremetech.com/electronics/las-vegas-sphere-touts-worlds-largest-concert-grade-3d-audio-system#:~:text=Consumer%20Electronics-,Las%20Vegas%20Sphere%20Touts%20World's%20Largest%20Concert%2DGrade%203D%20Audio,their%20location%20inside%20the%20venue.&text=The%20gigantic%20LED%20sphere%20in,with%20its%20eye%2Dpopping%20visuals.

Credit: Sphere Entertainment Group

The gigantic LED sphere in Las Vegas came alive recently to tease passersby with its eye-popping visuals. The company operating Sin City's latest attraction lit it up over the July 4th weekend to give people a taste of what's to come when it officially opens in September. Although everyone who saw its light show was likely thoroughly impressed, the company is now attempting to whet peoples' appetites further by showcasing its revolutionary 3D sound system.

Though Sphere has a 360-degree "ExoSphere" that anyone driving by can gawk at, inside is a bowl-shaped display for concerts and entertainment. It contains a massive, ultra-wide array of LEDs that is 160,000 square feet in size. This interior, with its unique shape, required a total rethinking of arena audio. Sphere Entertainment partnered with a company named Holoplot to design what it calls the world's most immersive 3D audio experience.

It uses 1,600 permanently installed and 300 mobile Holoplot X1 Matrix Array loudspeaker modules. That all adds up to 167,000 individual speakers with drivers, with the goal being every person in Sphere hears the same level of audio regardless of where they're seated. The system employs audio beam-forming to precisely target and bounce sound around to every seat in Sphere, so audio quality close to the stage will be the same as it is far away.

Sphere Entertainment says the 3D sound system is completely hidden behind the LED display plane, and it's designed to deliver crystal-clear audio to all 20,000 people inside the bowl. Any audio losses due to positioning or distance are mitigated with Holoplot's algorithms and how sound is bounced around, as the speakers are positioned on all sides of people inside the bowl.

This artist's rendering with cut-away shows what Sphere looks like inside, though it's not open to the public just yet. Credit: Sphere Entertaiment

Sphere's sound system uses beam forming, analogous to sending a sound wave to a specific location instead of just sending it out without controlling its propagation. The company says its audio algorithms allow it to create sound waves that are more highly controlled and efficient than those created by regular speakers, allowing the audio quality to remain consistent from the speaker to the destination, even over long distances. It can also send unique audio to specific parts of the arena, so one location could hear a concert in a different language, for example.

The system also uses Wave Field Synthesis technology, which lets it place certain sounds in any location. With a traditional speaker, the sound usually appears to originate from the speaker itself, but this system allows for virtual sound sources to be created. This means you could be in the back of Sphere, and still hear what sounds like a whisper right next to you.

This is another depiction of what an immersive experience could look like inside Sphere. Credit: Sphere Entertainment

Sphere's audio system will get its first real-world test soon, as its very first event will be a string of U2 concerts beginning on Sept. 29. One interesting benefit of the sound system is it will negate the requirement for bands to bring their own sound systems with them on the road. They will just need to figure out the acoustics beforehand and then transfer them to the system with a USB storage device when they arrive. All they will need to bring with them, according to Sphere's management, is their instruments.


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