CODA Audio founder on Space Hub & Immersive: 'It's a learning curve for all of us'

CODA Audio is revolutionising the immersive sound experience with the release of Space Hub, a comprehensive ecosystem that combines high-performance loudspeakers and a powerful next generation processor. Headliner spoke to CODA founder and managing director Svetly Alexandrov at the first trial of Sound Hub, Marseille’s Utopia Festival, to get the lowdown...

When did you first learn about Utopia Festival, and why did you feel it presented the best opportunity to debut Space Hub?

It was not so long ago when our marketing director Webby called me and told me about this festival, and that they wanted to use immersive audio. We were already working on the Space Hub immersive processor, and at that time it was in fact almost ready. I thought, ‘we can definitely do this’, so in the summer things started to move, and now the festival has finally happened!

We were able to pull it off because of all the excellent, engaged people that were involved; people from Germany, England, and of course France. It's the first event of this scale that’s taken place in a long time, and everyone in our industry has missed a lot in the last year and a half: seeing people, socialising, and doing the things that we love. For me personally, this has been the most exciting part.

I believe we were able to provide the best solution for this type of event, and I’ve been very excited to hear how the system performs. With things opening up and large events like this coming back, we needed to make sure that the whole venue was equipped with no compromise, high quality audio.

Tell us a bit about how Space Hub works and what you’re trying to achieve with it.

Space Hub is our new immersive processor, but an immersive experience is created with more than just the processor alone – it’s a complete system. In a multi-channel immersive system, the phase response of every loudspeaker must be 0° to ensure time coherence, improved localisation of sound sources and spatial stability.

When it comes to the speakers, with our DSFIR technology, we are able to linearise the phase response of the speakers from 50Hz up to 20KHz, with less than 12 milliseconds group delay.

When you ensure phase accuracy with no differences in timing between the various loudspeakers, the essential timing information is transmitted to the listener with perfect phase coherence and transient accuracy.

With linear-phase loudspeakers, you can create a true immersive space, precisely positioning sound sources wherever you want on the soundstage, and with the ability to move them without any phasing issues.

We see Space Hub as an ecosystem with a number of parts that come together to create a complete workflow. Svetly Alexandrov

Testing our new technology at Utopia Festival was very important, because you can do a lot of R&D work and try to improve things, but the reality is how it performs in action. Another important thing is the learning aspect, because while we know everything about the technology, it’s vital to know how people will be working with it, and what they think they’ll need to work with it. So speaking to those people – engineers, composers, artists etc. – is a learning curve for all of us. We have people from the software development and technical teams on hand to actively learn from the user, so we can all help each other to improve our knowledge.

It has been a long journey for us, because we’re not just viewing this as a standalone immersive processor. We see Space Hub as an ecosystem with a number of parts that come together to create a complete workflow. One of those parts that is absolutely essential is System Optimiser, which we started creating around three years ago. Then there is LINUS Control – another software and hardware element. All three of these combine to create the seamless Space Hub workflow, and they all need each other to work smoothly.

It was important for us at CODA to make this a complete package: controlling the amplifiers, the ability to move sounds around the soundstage, and being able to simulate the whole thing.

To what extent is Space Hub a future-proof system?

We always try to be the best in what we do, and it’s taken a long time to get there with Space Hub. On the hardware side we’ve specified a lot of inputs and outputs: 128 in and 128 out to be exact, which is massive. Each of these audio sources can be rendered to the outputs, and to do this you need a lot of processing power.

Space Hub utilises a CPU processor, which means the system can be upgraded very easily in the future – even in five years it will have enough power to compete. Normally, such systems are based on DSP or FPGA, and while this is usually suitable for today’s needs, in two years time you may need some additional power or upgrades.

At the moment, the whole system runs on Dante, but we will start offering Milan integration very soon. And if in the future a new protocol comes along, we can easily upgrade and integrate, so the system is very flexible. The software is of course a never ending story – we will continue to add features, but even as it is now, it performs excellently. I am really proud of it.

All that being said, people didn’t come to Utopia Festival because of the audio – they came to have fun. They were closed in their homes for such a long time, and now they can enjoy being free again. This is what they want: to party, and if we can help to make that party even better – better than they expected – then it makes me happy.

Listen to insights from CODA Audio founder and managing director Svetly Alexandrov, and check out the system in action at Utopia Festival in the video below: