Will we soon be able to record inside world class music studios with virtual reality ?

by Anthony Hunt, 30/04/21.

Since the start of the covid-19 pandemic and the restriction of social and physical activities, Virtual Reality (VR) technology has become increasingly popular and is now seriously considered by the music industry to develop new alternatives for recording and live music performance.

Abbey Road, studio 3.

Have you ever heard of Abbey Road Studios ? Of course you have. Based in London UK, they are considered to be one of the best recording facilities in the world, having been pioneers in the music industry for the last 80 years, recording music legends such as The Beatles, Pink Floyd or even Kanye West. One of the most iconic places of the building is studio 3, being considered as one of the best acoustically treated live rooms for recording music production.

Over the last couple of years, Abbey Road has built a relationship with the Audiolab research group based at the University of York, UK by creating multiple research agreements to explore the new possibilities for immersive technologies to transform the music recording workflow and experience. 

Multichannel microphone setup, Abbey Road.
Hash Riaz, aes.org
  • In 2017, a first experiment was performed by Hash Riaz, recording a band in studio 3 to evaluate different recording techniques for VR applications in a static position, meaning that the listener could look and hear in all directions from one single spot only.
Multichannel microphone setup, Abbey Road.
David Méndez, aes.org
  • In 2018, a second experiment was carried out by David Méndez, but this time it allowed the listener to move freely inside a virtual model of studio 3, where the sound evolved depending on his location inside the virtual room.

These two projects involved recording the performance in the traditional way and implementing VR and immersive technologies to create an immersive music performance. This meant that the immersive experience was mostly targeted at the listeners, not the performers.

This point will be addressed in this new project between Abbey Road Studios and the University of York: developing a new framework for performing recording sessions, within virtual reality

What is the plan ?

This project will develop a VR experience where performers can engage with each other in a virtual recording studio. We will record a 3 piece band in a virtual version of an Abbey Road recording studio environment, and compare this experience to the real thing.

There will be many technical challenges to overcome in the next upcoming months, especially involving remote music synchronisation (musicians need to be able to hear each other with a maximum delay of 30ms), and the integration of a virtual space with avatars to represent each performer. 

AltspaceVR, altvr.com

There will be a weekly update on different aspects of the project each Friday at 5pm on the website. Until then, if you want to have more details on the project or ask any specific question, please feel free to CONTACT me.

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