Black Box Multichannel Audio System (2018 – 2019)

Between 2018 and 2019, Simon Maisch designed, configured and installed a 24.2-channel audio system for the development and playback of immersive environments and installation works, located in the Media Precinct at RMIT University. Commissioned by Dr. Adam Nash for the School of Design, the system has a variety of user-friendly operating modes, varying from stereo playback from a Bluetooth device, 5.1 playback, to a discrete 24.2 channel mode.

As a hemispherical speaker array, a primary intention of the system is for the playback of decoded ambisonic files. However, as it is highly user configurable and allows for various other listening modes, it can be used in the creation of immersive sonic fields for combining with virtual, augmented and mixed reality environments; combination with 3D projection; electroacoustic and acoustic research; and the development of audio installations. 

Due to the multipurpose nature of the Black Box Multimedia Theatre, it was important that the audio system did not obstruct sight lines to clear walls for projection, or obstruct the floor. To enable this, four layers of height are split between a permanently installed system and a ‘rolling’ system, which can be easily connected to the installed equipment to increase the channel count as needed. 8 speakers are mounted on pantographs, so they can be easily raised and lowered as needed, and patch points are installed into the floor close to intended speaker locations for ease of full-system setup.

As the system is built around Dante network infrastructure, it is very simple to expand the system – for example, by connecting audio breakout boxes to Dante ethernet patch points located in the floor, or connecting a mixing console.