Fits & Starts On Seminar Tour

Feb 20, 2004 12:00 PM, Editors


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AES sections and audio students of all ages came out to hear the Fits & Starts Productions’ surround sound seminar featuring engineers and surround authorities, part of their national tour.

Fits & Starts Productions conducts these free seminars for university students and audio professionals with equipment from corporate sponsors: DTS (Digital Theater Systems), MaxVision, Steinberg North America, SRS Labs and Tannoy.

Tannoy is supplying seven of their WideBand Ellipse eight high-resolution monitors, all laser-aligned by Sokol in surround configuration. A Tannoy PS 350B amplified subwoofer supplies LF support. During a tour stop in Nashville, the Tannoy's were positioned in the 975-seat Massey auditorium so as to create a "virtual room" within a room (as Sokol put it) by isolating the center seating section.

Sokol introed the new Ellipse monitors by explaining that they are capable of full-bandwidth playback, flat out to 54 kHz, for today’s high-resolution formats, DSD and DVD-Audio. He also explained that these high-res monitors realize benefits within the traditional frequency range of 20 Hz–20 kHz.

“When you extend the bandwidth of any part of the recording/playback chain, you reduce in-band phase error,” he said. By moving either the CD’s low pass up (by using an SACD or DVD-A source) or the loudspeakers’ low pass frequency (by using wideband-capable loudspeakers), sound will be improved. It’s not about actually hearing information above 20 kHz, Sokol explained, so much as it’s about the energy in-band at 20–20 kHz sounding better 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 knowledge with seminar attendees so they can create their own music or sound efx projects. “Rather than telling seminar participants how we create 5.1 music,” Sokol says, “we show them how they can do it with affordable equipment and the latest technology.”

And the seminar tours always have new techniques and audio toys to show. A technique the Fits & Starts tours has been using for at least three years never fails to impress their knowledgeable seminar attendees: triggering surround audio through the PowerPoint presentation. And Sokol explains how to do it.

A current toy is a new use for an iPOD. Sokol converts standard MP3 stereo files to SRS Circle Surround encoded files and transfers them to the iPOD. The iPOD has a transmitter (an “iTrip” from Griffin Technology) allowing it to play through a surround sound receiver—a Marantz SR9300 in the rack. The Circle Surround encoded files, decoded by the receiver, play through the Tannoy Ellipse 8 monitors—ok, five of the Tannoy Ellipse eight monitors—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 2003 through April 2004, and consist of six seminars in each region for a total of 36 cities each year. The current Southeastern tour continues with stops at Full Sail (Winter Park, FL), Jan. 26th; University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL (Gusman Concert Hall), Jan. 27th; Appalachian State University, Boone, NC (Farthing Auditorium), Jan. 29th. The lower Midwest-Texas region tour begins on Feb. 17th in St. Louis, MO.

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