A recently developed sound system, named 4D, is a unique system which allows live performing artists, to express themselves in an original and revolutionary way. Julian, one of our writers, had the opportunity to experience the 4D phenomenon during a tryout featuring Max Cooper.
While thousands of people were attending the Voltt Festival, I found myself amongst 150 other invited enthusiasts, waiting to experience what might be the next revolution in listening and experiencing music, in a club environment. Even though it wasn’t a brand-new scoop – 4D was already exposed to the public during the last ADE edition – the most relevant information about the system was still unknown. So I decided to take sound expert Jannes Oosterwijk with me to experience whether this 4D system is truly revolutionary, or just an improvement of the existing possibilities.
When the black curtains were pulled aside, a large black room with metal pillars revealed itself in front of us. These pillars do distribute most of the sound. The room looked incredible cool and surprisingly suitable for a club environment, the industrial appearance was an additional element in the overall experience.
As soon as we entered the ‘club’ Jannes started to inspect the room and explained: “the 24 sound sources in Ableton send a stereo signal to 48 omnidirectional speakers. The speakers, mounted in the pillars, are divided in 3 layers: low, mid and high. 9 subwoofers are located below the floor, and 4 huge PA speakers have been mounted to enrich the presentation.”
Experiencing 4D is something you have to get used to. As the sound arises from all possible directions, people immediately start to move, trying to experience the music in different areas in the room, due to the fact they do not understand how the system works. Moving around is exactly what you shouldn’t be doing if you want to experience the system to the maximum because you’ll mess up your sense of space. Stick to one point, stay there and let the atmosphere do its magic.
Bringing an atmosphere into a room is something 4D succeeds in amazingly well. It creates a magical fantasy world which pulls you into the music. It’s the surround sound from the movie industry adjusted to the event industry. The dark location increased this sense of fantasy even more.
Max Cooper was using the system intelligently, sending Synths through the room from all possible angles. Jannes: “It’s a shame this room is so susceptible to echoes; listening to this sound system in a room without resonance would be amazing.”
Reducing the amount of twaddle during this unique experience would also be beneficial. Even though the room was filled with 150 invited, and we guess interested persons, they didn’t mind to speak constantly at a volume that made it difficult to listen properly to the sound system.
Later on the volume and the beat picked up, and we have to say; it’s pretty sick to experience club music in this way. Of course; spherical music is suited for a system like this, but it performs equally exceptional with club music as it is more intense than on a normal PA system. In fact, the music gets so close at times that we even felt a bit scary; there’s no possible escape from the sound, unless you leave the room. There’s sound everywhere, something that could be potentially frightening, especially to those in a certain state of mind.
We noticed the absence of vocals in Max’s set. Not totally surprising, as the man rarely uses vocals, but it did make us wonder how it would sound when somebody is whispering and shouting in a track. That would be something special for sure! It’s a shame they didn’t pay the same amount of attention to the visuals as they did to the sound. There was a VJ moving some faders up and down, and that could be exploited a lot more, for example by using Max For Live in addition to Ableton.
In fact, the general feeling that remained after the show is that the system offers more possibilities than we experienced. Maybe we interpreted it too much as a presentation, whilst it was more of a trial. I guess we have to wait for the first official event portraying several DJ’s.