One of the most important elements for any event is the sound quality. It can make or break the audience experience, and ultimately define the outcome of your event. Just think about it for a moment… when you’re at a conference, you’re there to listen to the presenters… when you’re at a concert, you’re there to hear the music… when you’re at a meeting, you want to hear and be heard… regardless of the type of event, it’s the sound that gets your attention and keeps it. We often see first with our ears… sound directs our attention where and when the producer wants it.
At the conclusion of an event, the critiques and compliments are often related to the sound quality. The audience may not notice when there is a glitch in your lighting, multimedia or video displays, but they definitely notice when the sound quality has faltered. Inconsistent volume levels, poor timing, less than perfect clarity, and even the smallest amount of feedback are just some of the elements that unfortunately also gets your audiences’ attention – and, it may be all they remember.
Misconception Resulting from MP3s
Audiences may not be as keen about the perfection of sound quality like the audiophiles of the industry, but they do recognize the difference when the right technology and engineers are not in place.
In the past several years, there was a misconception about the importance of sound quality from an audience perspective. The misconception was based on consumer’s embracing MP3’s and their acceptance of listening to diluted versions of music. It was a sacrifice they were willing to make for the convenience of easily purchasing and sharing music as well as being able to take their favorite tunes anywhere and everywhere. However, the convenience and quality acceptance of MP3’s is where it ends… with MP3s.
Thankfully MP3s may have some competition in the near future when you look at today’s consumer market trends in HD audio and HD audio Experiences. From the tremendous advancements in home theater technology to new portable playback systems – the High Resolution Audio (HRA) Revolution appears to be gaining significant momentum with the public. Moreover, it’s making the live events industry take notice and step up in audio production.
HRA Technology Gaining Momentum in Consumer Market & Beyond
Manufacturers and artists are already launching solutions providing HRA playback, such HD headphones, smartphone with HD playback capabilities, players, and music download services – providing the listener audio with more detail, greater transparency, and deeper base response. As consumers learn more about the technology and experience it first hand, the more interested they become. Today, HRA headphones alone are a $2 billion-plus industry, which has nearly doubled in just two years.
For example, Beats by Dre has approximately 57% of the high-end headphone market share. Designed to ensure the listener experiences studio quality artistry, consumers are not hesitating at spending $400 for a pair of quality headphones. Apple has also taken a giant step in the revolution and recently purchased Beats for $3 billion (we may see a new direction in iPhones and iPads to support HRA playback).
Other manufacturers like Sony, Shure, Sennheiser, and others have also brought models of earphones that were previously only available to the professional market to the masses utilizing up to eight (8) drivers per ear piece (versus the one (1) that typical headphones have). Currently, there are two smartphones with HRA playback capabilities, including the LG G2 and Samsung Galaxy Note 3. Sony has also released its Video Walkman with HRA, supporting lossless formats FLAC and ALAC. PONO Digital Music Service, owned by Neil Young and PonoMusic, offers a new music player with HRA 24-bit 192kHz audio (studio quality playback) for $400 – the company cannot keep enough in stock. Many are eager to try PONO’s music service when it launches, which will rival HDtracks, an online service already offering uncompressed music downloads.
These are just a sampling of what is available in the market and quickly gaining in consumer demand.
Impact to Live Events & Entertainment
The impact of HRA to live events and entertainment is already beginning to emerge at the request of our audiences – the consumers. As consumers continue to invest in better sound quality for themselves, they are and will take more notice in the audio at any event. It will increase the level of importance production companies and corporations put on the quality of their sound system and audio engineers for their events. It will change the how the budget dollars will be distributed and the type of venues they are looking to hold future events. While audio solutions have been taken for granted by some, it is what gets the audiences’ attention. Audio cues let the audience know where and when to pay attention and gives them the information and/or entertainment they expect.
As audio technology advances for the consumer market, audio manufacturers for the commercial market are also making significant strides. For example, Martin Audio’s Multi-cellular Loudspeaker Array (MLA) sound system is the first technology in decades to truly deliver extraordinary, consistent sound. MLA breaks the current paradigm for speaker design by looking at the audience listening area, and through intuitive software and Multi-Cellular Drive delivers stellar coverage to the user-defined audience area (default is +/- ½ dB over that area). The capabilities of the MLA technology are setting a benchmark for the future of speaker system designs, giving audio engineers the ability to project the performance to exact locations all while delivering a consistent and incredible listening experience for the audience wherever they are seated. MLA is quickly becoming the system of choice for some of the largest performers, festivals, and corporate events today.
A Partner You Can Trust
To create a truly extraordinary sound experience, it is important to collaborate with the right partner who will provide the appropriate technology for the event and the talent to ensure the highest sound quality. OSA International, Inc. has a reputation for its premier audio technology and the industry-known talent behind the technology. As a result, OSA works with the industry’s top technical directors, producers, production companies, and corporate event planners. OSA collaborates with its clients to define needs and goals, taking into account the venue, audience size, and media output, before selecting the technology and audio design for an event. The success of every event is as important to OSA as it is to its clients.
Learn more about OSA International, Inc.