Allen Sides Interview About The Ok Wave Private Theater Project
Allen Sides Interview About His Ok Wave Private Theater Project
18 October 2022
An interview with Ocean Way founder and audio legend Allen Sides. We wanted to discuss Trinnov's technologies and calibration process with Ocean Way founder and speaker designer on site at his most ambitious residential cinema project to date, The Ok Wave Private Theater
Can you please introduce yourself ?
I am a recording engineer and a studio designer.I design and build loudspeakers of all varieties and sizes. Furthermore, I have a company called Ocean Way Audio and we manufacture high-end Atmos theater systems.
We also do high-end systems for artists and clients around the world.
Can you tell us a bit about the project ?
We built a theater called the Riviera, which is the home of Santa Barbara Film Festival. We think it's probably one of the best Atmos systems that's ever been installed in a theater and I think Dolby agrees with us. The owners wanted something that sounded like that in their home so that we could actually take the files from that theater, bring them here, play it and it would be identical. That's what I wanted to deliver, I wanted that level of performance. But I will say, this is even better than the Riviera !
OK Wave theater plan
What challenges did you face completing this project ?
I designed the sound system and then I worked with the acoustics folks who were doing the space. We went back and forth, there were a lot of meetings about all of the issues even to the point of the metal work on the sides. What is quite intriguing aesthetically is that there were deeper slots, so of course they would have been reflections between them. So we changed that to get performance and we ended up with the aesthetic with no acoustical issues. So a lot of things along that and a lot of things about finding the exact placements of where we're going to do this.
What was your original take on room correction solutions ?
There were a lot of anomalies, a lot of problems, all sorts of things to get to the final result. You guys have taken it to a level that I didn't know was possible to be honest with you. When we came in and set this room up, I would normally have taken four hours to align each speaker. When we used your system to align it and we set the single microphone, the sweet spot in the room, it was a complex system with 24 surrounds and 14 subs all on separate outputs plus the LCRs. We lined the entire system up in 7-10 minutes. I didn't think that was physically possible and I wasn't anticipating it to do what it did.
Overview of the OK Wave theater layout
What do you like about Trinnov's Optimizer ?
The end result was remarkable, particularly in the low end when you have 14 subs ideally placed in the optimum positions to get the best performance in the space. Each one has a different level of performance as relates to being in the sweet spot: where one might be 8db down at 30 Hz, one might be 5db up and the Trinnov managed to match the delays and align all of them. We actually had flat base response of 20 Hz in the sweet spot and had remarkably linear bass performance over the entire space. I could have worked that out manually but I have to tell you, it would have taken me quite some time !
Did you change the target curve ?
In all fairness, they were lined up quite close to where they needed to be before we even set the system up. I could find nothing that I didn't like and I'm the first one to tell you if there's anything that was bothering me the slightest ! We all just looked around and just packed up and said: thank you very much.
Isolation at mechanical penetration at isolated walls
Did you look at the diagnosis of the room ?
When we were first looking at the curves and some initial components, I did have a pretty good idea of what was going on. The thing is once each of our channels are all matched physically time aligned, so the components will line up perfectly. We designed it so they're all symmetrical, so in the front system the high frequency and mid-base sections have identical dispersion and physical time alignment.
The fact that your system will not only correct frequency response but any sort of delay within the components (and that's part of the package), there's a lot of the stuff where it is even close to being time aligned, and the high-frequency elements are sitting somewhere else in this thing.
The Trinnov can line up all of those things linearly. That can certainly be even more helpful when the systems are less than 100% and there are inherent problems.
Do you as a sound engineer feel offended by DSP intervention ?
Not in the least. For me, it all comes down to is the end result. I'm not saying that the process is irrelevant but if it delivers what I need… As a manufacturer and as an installer, the amount of time savings is incredible, and of course, it doesn't mean I can't go in and finesse it. Once we've put the initial curve in, we're 90% to where we need to be.
I think I could make it sound just great individually, but there are certain things here, particularly like aligning all 14 subs supporting positions and finding the ideal delays for each which, I'll be honest with you, would have taken me a long time ! That was one of the most intriguing aspects, the fact that we can line up all those subs so easily.
Because I love more bass, I'm sitting here at the sweet spot and it's flat at 20 Hertz and that's what makes it fun !
What would you tell other sound engineer about the Trinnov Optimizer ?
The Trinnov processor does everything I need on a functional level. I can't find anything about it that would then make it easy to do what we wanted to do. There was nothing that stopped me from getting the end result I need. I can't think of another system at this moment in time that would make my life easier as a manufacturer and an installer and trying to get an end product that meets my standards. To be honest with you, after setting this place up I can't imagine that I could go a different direction.