The University Art Museum (UAM) at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) have installed HARMAN’s JBL PRX612M speakers as part of a major—and unique—3D audio installation involving legendary rocker, Lou Reed.
The event—which is part of UAM’s w.i.r.e.T/A/P series looking at frontier sound—involves the world premiere audio installation of Metal Machine Trio: The Creation of the Universe which is an ambisonic 3D recreation of Reed’s 1975 album, Metal Machine Music.
When released in 1975 as a double album, Metal Machine Music was seen as a radical departure by the former Velvet Underground frontman as it had no songs or even recognizably structured compositions. According to UAM: “Metal Machine Music is now seen, in retrospect, as a groundbreaking foray into industrial music and sound art.”
The actual recording used at the UAM exhibition—which runs until April 15th and is free to all—was taken from a 2009 recording of Metal Machine Trio—composed of Reed, Ulrich Krieger and Sarth Calhoun—at the Blender Theatre in New York (you can watch a small portion of the performance below).
In order to capture the same unique 3D sound that Reed had whilst performing on stage at the Blender Theatre at the UAM, the sound engineers, Arup, had to pull out all the stops.
Arup deployed 12 of JBL PRX612M compact powered speakers. These 12 inch two-way multi-purpose self-powered loudspeakers were arrayed spherically in the UAM’s Project Room. This allowed them to create a fully immersive 3D sound environment at the venue. This was only possible thanks to the ambisonic process perfected by Arup in their SoundLab.
All this hard work paid off, however, as most of the aspects of Reed’s original work was retained in this set-up. Thus—with the audience’s chairs strategically placed for the best sonic experience—the hour-long recording presents to listeners Reed’s mixed over-modulated feedback and guitar effects at varying speeds with as much fidelity as possible to the original stage experience.
“We are pleased to provide the sound for this special event,” explained HARMAN Professional’s Director of Systems Applications, Paul Chavez. “The PRX612M speakers are perfect for this application as they provide quality sound to support the 3D environment and the goal of the overall exhibition.”
To pick up a little taster of the Metal Machine Trio experience—alas not in 3D—you can listen to a five-minute excerpt (out of 55 minutes) of one of the two tracks below.