An experimental getaway set in the idyllic hills of Sussex, where technology and creativity can be explored

Mark Slee is no stranger to creating spaces where art and technology can be explored, having founded Heron Arts to support arts and culture in San Francisco in 2013. His latest project focuses on the intersection of light, immersive sound, and technology.  Mark’s own background is as interdisciplinary as the space he has created, he is a DJ and has played sets around the world, a visual artist working with addressable LED lights, and a developer whose work includes Envelop for Live, a set of open-source tools for Ambisonics spatial audio processing using Cycling74’s Max for Live. For his latest project he worked with HHB Communications to create a 17.4 system that would offer sonic excellence and be easily accessible for artists looking to produce immersive audio and visual experiences.  


“The goal is to have a more studio, production, and technology development-oriented space. There aren’t a lot of spaces for artists to work on immersive audio in a more exploratory context, so it will be interesting to see what people will do with it and use that to inform how the technology evolves,” says Mark.  


From the start Mark wanted a Genelec based monitoring system and with that in mind HHB Communications suggested a system built around seventeen 8351B coaxial monitors supported by four 7380A subwoofers. Taking into account the room’s beautiful design, required speaker positions, and the weight of the monitors, this required a custom ceiling mount solution with galvanised steel poles attached to the ceiling beams and Genelec truss mounts, all of which were installed by the HHB Technical Support team. Additionally, delayed start power sequencing was included. This reduces the inrush current being drawn from the twenty-one speakers in the former granary. The system relies on a DAD AX64 with additional AES cards to feed the Genelecs, also providing distributed bass management, source selection and monitor control, while the Genelec Loudspeaker Manager software handles the room correction EQ.  The AX64 is also connected via MADI to a RME Fireface UFX interface which is used for local I/O at the listening position.  


“Genelec’s reputation precedes them, the speakers are so good and there’s no concern whatsoever about the quality they produce. The fact that they have GLM, with room correction built in is a huge help to simplify the setup, they were the obvious choice,” states Mark, adding that, “I am finding that they are super clear in here. After putting in acoustic curtains, I did a GLM sweep, it quickly and easily made such a huge difference.” 


“For immersive or multichannel systems like this I often suggest products from the DAD range, and the AX64 was the perfect choice for Mark’s unique application. GLM does an excellent job with room correction but with the number of speaker and subwoofer channels in use the AX64 makes it much easier to operate, allowing artists more time and focus to be creative,” comments John Johnson, CTO HHB Communications.  


“HHB has been fantastic to work with. As soon as Matthew and John saw the space, they immediately understood the technical needs, in terms of both audio performance as well as the challenges of installing and cabling so much equipment in an elegant way. The whole team has done a fantastic job, everyone was super responsive and I think we all had quite a lot of fun seeing the system take shape.” 

The design of the space is also integral, so HHB had to create a safe and aesthetically pleasing design. To do this the HHB team provided the cabling design, bracketry, and managed the installation process. There would be nine 8351Bs hanging five metres overhead,presenting a safety concern for the team. The Tech Support team managed all the cabling and mounting, which included galvanised steel poles along with standard and modified Genelec mounts and brackets. The aesthetic attention to detail included coating the poles the same shade of black as the speakers and brackets, and further spraying bolt heads the same colour. The result is a beautiful space that sounds amazing. 


“We are always excited to take on interesting projects and working with Mark to create this space has been delightful. HHB are always up for a challenge and we loved seeing the final result,” says Matthew Fletcher, Head of Sales at HHB Communications.  



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