In addition to delivering spectacular music, prog-rock supergroup Flying Colors’ new
Second Flight: Live at Z7 (Music Theories Recordings/Mascot Label Group)
introduces several new, cutting-edge technologies. Developed by Bill Evans, the
band’s multi-talented production engineer and executive producer, these
technologies enhance fans’ listening and viewing experience, enabling them to
experience the music in new ways.
For the video version of Second Flight, Evans, assistant engineer Tom Price, and
mix engineer Rich Mouser used Evans’ psychoacoustic and sonic modelling
techniques to create two virtual listening positions, so that fans can experience the
live performance in 5.1 surround as it would sound from behind the front-of-house
mixing console or from the front row. Second Flight is the first commercial music
release to feature this ability.
“The experience of hearing a concert in a specific time and place is as much a
result of psychoacoustic and physiological factors as auditory ones,’ notes Evans.
“Most surround mixes give you at best an artificial sense of location unrelated to a
real venue. With Second Flight, you hear the concert as you would have heard it
sitting in specific locations in the venue where the show was recorded. This takes
the listener a big step closer to experiencing the show live.’
Evans points out that while fans often stealthily record shows and post them, it is
highly unlikely that they could create this sort of immersive experience. As a result,
artists and record labels who use his technology could deliver a unique product that
is integrated into the Blu-ray or DVD so you can’t get it by simply downloading the
Creating audiophile-quality, 5.1 surround from either of two virtual positions was a
stiff challenge but Evans’ team was just getting started. They also created an
exclusive headphone mix that allows sounds to be positioned anywhere in 3-D space
around the listener. Based on the concept of Headphone Surround™, this new
innovation, dubbed Headspace™, makes its debut in Second Flight—the first use of
3-D audio for re-creating a live concert.
“Headspace is made possible by a combination of proprietary DSP technology,
artistic design, and new audio engineering methods,’ Evans explains. “It may seem
counterintuitive that you could create 3-D sound in a standard set of headphones,
but when you think about it in DSP terms, it’s not so crazy. In the end, no matter
how many loudspeakers you use, once the sound gets past your pinna (the external
portion of the ear) and into your ear canal, it’s a left and a right audio stream.
We’re using DSP to emulate what happens when sound travels within a 3-D space,
including the effect of the pinna.’
Mouser mixed the Headspace version direct to 2-inch analog tape, in 2 passes: 24-
bit, 48 kHz, available direct from Mascot Label Group, Flying Colors’ record label;
and 24-bit, 192 kHz, available from Pono and other high end distributors.