Talking shop

When Sam Wise isn’t being an Associate Venue Consultant for Arup Venue Consulting he is also the chair of the Institute of Acoustics Electroacoustics Group. One of the roles closely associated with this, is the organisation of the Reproduced Sound conference, the Electro-acoustics group’s annual event, which is now into its 25th Year. Chris Fitzsimmons met up with Sam at Arup’s London offices to find out more.

The Reproduced Sound conference has been taking place for 25 years this year, and Sam Wise has been involved off and on over that time. Initially he was an attendee, often he has presented papers and for the last three years he has been partly responsible for its rejuvenation. Firstly as an organising committee member and latterly as chairman of the electroacoustics group.

So what’s going on at the event?

“At the conference we have tried to get a mix of representatives from all over the industry to talk together, to share their ideas, to talk about their part in what’s going on and by presenting papers. The papers don’t have to be highly scientific, but they do have to be unbiased in terms of the commercial side.

“They could be about a product, but they have to be genuinely about an innovation in a product. I could talk about my work with Arup, but it must be in such away that allows others to learn what I have learned in that work.
“There is only one session going on at a time, so you don’t have to pick and choose what to see. We also try to make it a nice spread of content. There are some with a lot of maths, others with no maths, it’s all designed to be accessible even if some of it is challenging.

“The other part of the event that’s really important is the informal stuff. There’s a lot of sitting down and eating and drinking together – it’s a great networking opportunity.”

“What we really want to see is a joined up, everyone wins way of how to do sound in any space. My work is on larger venues. Some of us work on the other extreme - car or even computer game audio. Our Reproduced Sound conference is really about how to help people understand sound and what makes it work. How do you design loudspeakers that go in a space? How do you make systems to go in the various types of spaces, how do you operate them in order to get the right results? All of those questions are addressed.”

“On a personal level my motivation is to make a difference to the overall quality of sound in the UK. It’s an extension of what I’ve done in my career to engineer infrastructures and systems so that sound doesn’t have to fart, click, hum or buzz for whatever reason.”

I also asked Sam if there was anything in particular he was looking forward to this year.

“Well I haven’t had a chance to read all the papers yet, but what I like as an aside from the papers is the evening demonstrations. We’ve had some great ones over the years. A few years ago Duran Audio demonstrated 3D sound in space. It was great, they had a virtual saxophone player. You could put your head where his head shouls be and hear his keys clacking, which you couldn’t hear very much at the front. It was like a phantom musician standing in the space.”

And finally, why should AV systems integrators or designers be thinking of attending Reproduced Sound?

“First of all, just making contact and experiencing the enthusiasm and enjoyment that the people in the sound side of the industry have for what they do, is good. Meeting with people from all parts of that industry is good. People who design loudspeakers, people who design sound systems and the people who are working on the rooms are all important to ‘AV people’. You need the products. You need the designers, and you need the rooms to be right.

“There are also always key topics covered. Speech intelligibility comes up again and again because its important we are still learning things, even though you’d think it was done to death by now. And, on the night before the conference, we are having an informal round table chat with beers in hand. Ask the experts anything. There are no stupid questions. This is a great place to start learning more about audio.”

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