A Movable Beast

In his role at BEAST (Birmingham Electroacoustic Sound Theatre), Simon Smith works with massive multi-speaker array concert systems on a daily basis. These experiences inspired him to design a system of his own that could generate moving sound sources and immersion without the need to carry around large amps and speakers.

When Smith came across the Minirig loudspeaker — a small Bluetooth speaker typically used for small parties and “annoying people on the beach” — he bought 4 of them and, using standard microphone mounts and gooseneck microphone stands, he started experimenting with various configurations. Initially using tea coasters and cable ties, he eventually found drainpipe mounts that fit the Minirigs perfectly. Now he’s able to flexibly angle the loudspeakers toward nearby reflective surfaces (walls, windows, ceilings, panels), creating an impression of the sound coming from the room and not just the loudspeaker.




The speakers are just loud enough that he can play along with acoustic instruments without overwhelming them. Smith’s initial setup has now grown to 8 speakers with 2 subs, and by design, the entire rig (Pacamara, Laptop, and Minirigs) can be battery powered, opening the possibility for impromptu off-grid performances in interesting acoustic spaces. He christened his modular sound spatialisation system the Portable Immersive Sound System intentionally, because he knew he was destined to take it places.

During a recent performance at PAN-PAN, Simon used his MYO armbands to control a concatenatenative synthesis patch routed through Kyma (running a custom delay line designed by Alan Jackson and workshopped by the Kyma Kata), then through an Eventide H90 which sent quad out to his portable spatializing speakers.