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Clair Brothers Reinforces The World According To Sound

Public radio show takes immersive audio experience on the road to live audiences with kiTCURVE12+ two-way active loudspeakers.

By PSW Staff March 14, 2018

Sam Harnett from the World According to Sound recording the sound of CNC machining of a Clair Brothers kiTCurve all Baltic birch waveguide/horn.

The World According to Sound is a San Francisco-based immersive aural romp of a public radio touring show. Co-creators Chris Hoff, a sound engineer, and Sam Harnett, a reporter/journalist, mishmash detailed sounds and present them in dramatic fashion to audiences ranging from 80 to 140 people eager to witness the extraordinary.

Hoff explains, “Our show invites listeners to re-imagine the world through their ears instead of their eyes. We pass out eye masks, turn out the lights, and take sounds from all over the world and move them around the audience using a ring of eight loudspeakers – the Clair Brothers kiTCURVE12+. All these sounds will swirl around you while you sit in total darkness with only your ears to guide you.”

To recreate sounds as diverse as bridges creaking, ants marching and mud pots gurgling to historic street sounds of Berlin, musical performances by a washing machine, and the creepy howls one hears while crossing the Gobi Desert, requires talent, showmanship and the right gear.

Harnett offers some background: “Working in public radio news, our job is to produce stories using words and sounds, basically just presenting information with a hook or a pretty package, which can become stale after a while. So, in 2015 we came up with an idea to create a show that is all about sound instead of language and narrative, a show that gets into long stretches of sounds with extreme depth, without narration, so you can really lose yourself. Our idea became The World According to Sound.”

Hoff adds, “At first we were just making 90-second podcast episodes that focused on one particular sound, but we quickly realized the potential to take our show into three-dimensional spaces. This began the development of our podcast into a live show. Personally, I was super excited at the prospect of mixing for eight channels, instead of the standard binary for radio/headphones.”

The venue size for the show shouldn’t be too gigantic or too minuscule, and the optimal crowd size is 120 people. The most important aspect of this show is the intricate and subtle dynamism of the sound as it travels across the eight loudspeakers; if they’re too far apart, the sound will “jump” from one speaker to the next, disrupting the smooth seamless nature of the intended experience. Harnett notes, “All-in-all, people are enjoying it. We’ve pretty much sold out every venue we’ve done.”

Hoff and Harnett were turned on to Clair Brothers by some of their Bay Area audiophile peers, who spoke highly of the brand and their great sounding products. “When we started planning our East Coast tour, there was no question we would reach out to Clair Brothers. Fortunately for us, they were immediately interested in collaborating. Even more fortunately, the Clair Brothers system far exceeded our hopes and expectations.” says Hoff.

Turns out, the Clair Brothers gear helped out with more than sound. Since The World According to Sound is a two-person operation, where both men are performers, roadies, and more, one of the big challenges was finding the right kind of gear that could deliver the sound quality necessary and the ability for only two people to easily transport it, set it up and break it back down. The kiTCURVE12+ performs at every level.

Harnett explains, “The fact that we didn’t need to cart any subwoofers around, and that we get everything we need and more through the eight individual kitCURVE12+ speakers is huge for us. Also, most audio interfaces come with eight outputs, which would have been an enormous obstacle. Thankfully, we only have to hook up the eight kiTCURVEs. It’s perfect.”

“On the technical side,” says Hoff, “low-end frequencies are super-important for parts of our show. Without the low-end, certain segments of the show just don’t work. We’re amazed at how well the Clair Brothers speakers handle these frequencies. Several audience members from numerous shows couldn’t believe there were no subwoofers in the room. They were literally asking us where we were hiding them. That always makes us smile.”

For now, The World According to Sound is a venture Hoff and Harnett are doing on the side. But in the future, both agree, they’d like to make live shows the main thing they do – with the kiTCURVE12+ loudspeakers right there all the way.

Hoff concludes, “Our live audio show sounds so good coming out of Clair Brothers loudspeakers that we don’t have any interest in using anybody else’s speakers. We are impressed with the dynamism, clarity, and range of these speakers given how compact and transportable they are. To our peers, we absolutely recommend Clair Brothers.”

Clair Brothers

The World According to Sound

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