Audio solution aims to revolutionise direct-view displays

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With its new Ultra Reflex system, Meyer Sound has set its sights on providing the best possible reproduction of discrete screen channel audio on large-scale direct-view (emissive) video displays.

The complete system for each screen channel comprises a high-frequency component reflecting off the screen that is coupled with a direct-radiating low-frequency component.

The patent-pending solution encompasses proprietary acoustical designs, DSP technologies and optimisation techniques. Meyer Sound says the result is full-bandwidth reproduction together with extremely low distortion, pinpoint directionality and extraordinarily flat amplitude and phase response for tonal accuracy. Ultra Reflex is designed to provide audiences throughout the viewing space with accurate and stable sound localisation, crisp dialogue, high-fidelity music scores and powerful effects – audio quality that ideally complements the newest image technologies.

The company says audio challenges have inhibited wider acceptance of larger direct-view displays because, unlike with acoustically transmissive projection screens, loudspeakers cannot be located directly behind the visual image. It adds that placing screen channel loudspeakers around the display perimeter compromises uniformity of coverage, stability of image localisation and overall audio fidelity. The Ultra Reflex solution is intended to preserve the audio advantages of a behind-screen system while also improving breadth of coverage for a wider sweet spot in the viewing space.

“The introduction of direct-view displays in the cinema industry created the need for a unique solution for LCR screen channels,” said Miles Rogers, business development manager for cinema and content creation markets at Meyer Sound. “Ultra Reflex is the culmination of prediction software, loudspeaker technologies and the lifelong vision of John Meyer to create solutions for the most demanding audio professionals.”

Sony Crystal LED display

For the initial launch period, the solution is paired with Sony’s Crystal LED. “With accurate colour reproduction and outstanding contrast inspired by our industry-leading master monitors, Sony’s Crystal LED offers a premium visual experience that has proven itself through its evaluation and reception by the post-production and creative communities,” said Theresa Alesso, pro division president, Sony Electronics. “We sought to complement this powerful imagery with an audio solution that not only matched the visual integrity but enhanced the overall immersiveness. Meyer Sound Ultra Reflex and Crystal LED provide the perfect marriage of superior sound and vision for creatives.”

Sony’s modular and scalable Crystal LED displays incorporate MicroLED with the company’s LED control and signal-processing technology, offering a contrast ratio of more than 1,000,000:1, high brightness, a wide viewing angle and wide colour gamut.

Netflix screening room

The first joint installation for the two technologies is at a reference-level screening room and lab on the Netflix campus in Los Angeles, California. Designed to replicate both critical viewing and audio mixing as well as accommodate VIP screenings, the room features a 17ft (5.2m) wide, 9ft (2.7m) high HDR-capable 4K Crystal LED from Sony. Proprietary DSP for optimisation is supplied by a Galaxy 816 Network Platform.

The screen channels are part of a complete Dolby Atmos system that has quickly recallable snapshots for theatrical or 9.1.6 home entertainment playback modes. The balance of the system comprises a total of 37 self-powered Meyer Sound cinema loudspeakers, including HMS Series lateral and overhead surround loudspeakers bolstered by USW-210P subwoofers for surround bass management and X-400C cinema subwoofers with very-low-frequency control (VLFC) elements for bass management and LFE.

Netflix’s Sol Levante, displayed on a large-scale direct-view display supported by Ultra Reflex audio

Netflix’s Sol Levante, displayed on a large-scale direct-view display supported by Ultra Reflex audio

“I recently had a chance to visit Netflix to demo Sony’s new large-scale Crystal LED screen and the accompanying immersive sound system that Meyer Sound had developed for it,” said Will Files, re-recording mixer and sound supervisor for Stranger Things and Sol Levante. “To be honest I was a bit sceptical, having heard other various attempts at this type of thing. Instead, what I heard was simply stunning – a reference-quality, completely transparent sound system that matches the spectacular visuals from the Crystal LED display. Playing clips from my mix of Stranger Things, I was truly shocked at how close it sounded to the studio where we had mixed it. I wouldn’t hesitate to mix on this system in the first place, it’s that good!”

“Earlier this year, I was invited to a demonstration of the new audio/video technology at the Netflix campus,” said Jon Taylor, re-recording mixer for Enola Holmes and Dumplin’. “I was led to a dark stage and sat at the console, then I was shown a clip from The Revenant. Having mixed this film only a few years ago, I was very aware of how the spatial dynamics should be represented, and I was absolutely blown away by the quality of sound and picture. Afterwards, they played Enola Holmes and Dumplin’, which are Netflix films that I mixed more recently. Again, I was amazed at the quality and warmth, sonically and visually. When the lights came up I was shocked to learn that the Sony solid screen was actually reflecting the audio from the Meyer Sound speakers that were right above my head. I had no idea they weren’t behind the screen in front of me!”

The installation

The audio solution at Netflix was implemented by a team of Meyer Sound engineers in consultation with Ron Lagerlof of Visioneering, Ryan Hufford of RH Design and Studio 440 Architecture. At Netflix, Jimmy Fusil, director of creative technologies, was project lead, along with production sound technology specialist Ozzie Sutherland and manager Scott Kramer.

Upon launch, the Ultra Reflex solution is paired with Sony’s Crystal LED, however the technology is compatible with all hard-surface direct view displays. Meyer Sound Ultra Reflex is fully scalable and suitable for all direct-view applications, from home cinema and post-production studios through corporate installations and commercial cinemas.

Photos: Adrian Tiemens

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Izzy became editor of Auditoria magazine in 2018, having previously served as assistant editor on the title earlier in her career. She is also the editor of Business Jet Interiors International, Railway Interiors International and new launch Cruise Liner Interiors International. Over the course of a decade as a business-to-business magazine editor, Izzy has covered everything from airline catering to car safety technologies, autonomous vehicles and business aviation airports. Outside of work, Izzy loves watercolour painting, live music and travel.

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