Immersive audio lend ‘sound’ venue experience


Brennan Wilkins at Coliseum US 2023 Image: Coliseum GSVA

Brennan Wilkins is totally ‘immersed’ in the world of immersive audio, sound and Science. He is the Director of Audio-Video Design at ME Engineers.

Wilkins swears by the immersive audio systems and asserts that it is a buzzword in the audio industry. It lends a dynamic feel to the audio, makes it more lifelike and can also enhance the emotional impact of the audio content.

Wilkins has over 15 years of experience with audio-visual network design and immersive audio-visual environments for large-scale sports and entertainment venues throughout the United States.

Deep dive with Brennan Wilkins, Senior Associate, AV Design Director, ME Engineers, US, as he engages in an immersive talk exclusively with ‘Coliseum’ taking a forward-looking approach on the topic – immersive audio systems. He talks in details about immersive audio, how to deploy it, and several other facets of the same. He also avers that content is going to be the king and the venue operators/owners must sooner or later deploy immersive audio systems in their facilities to stay ahead of the curve, get the right audio effect and provide the fans – especially the zoomers – an enhanced experience.

ME Engineers

Golden (US)-based ME Engineers is a mechanical and electrical engineering design firm that specializes in mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and lighting (MEPT) designs.

Jeff Sawarynski, Senior Principal and Managing Director, ME Engineers, US, is a Member of Coliseum – Global Sports Venue Alliance.

Immersive Audio

Immersive audio is a mastering technique that creates music in a realistic 3D way. It uses multiple channels to surround the listener, creating a sense of realism and envelopment that’s not possible with the traditional audio formats. Immersive audio can include up to 128 objects in a mix.

Brennan Wilkins began by stating that though cutting-edge technology is the mantra today but “our venues still have pretty much static systems in terms of what the audio system looks like. For the most part, audio design in the venue really hasn’t changed all that much in the last 20 years or so. The products have got better, it sounds better, there is better technology and for the most part like I said they are kind of static.”

He stressed that innovations must be brought into the audio systems of venues to be able to hold “monster touring shows of music greats like Taylor Swift and Beyoncé. Immersive audio will elevate the audio experience as well as elevate the spectators’ expectations.”

Wilkins pointed out that the 20,000-capacity Sphere in Nevada (US) will “fundamentally change the audio experience of spectators. The arena’s acoustics and visuals are incredible. The MSG Sphere in Las Vegas has an immersive audio system that uses 164,000 speakers and wave field synthesis technology to provide unique and immersive listening.”

He defines immersive audio as surround sound but in a much bigger and much more complicated scale – “Immersive audio is more of a technology that is going to transform the way we engage, feel and ultimately remember a live event that we go to. We continue to push the envelope of what audio can do in our venues and it is borne out of the desire to connect to each other through shared experiences and make emotional connect with one another that ultimately create lasting memories.”

Immersive Audio Systems

He explained, “In venue-wide audio you are going to have the main arrays in front, the scoreboard and basically there will be a dome of sound in the venue and then we are able to take and move objects within the 3D space which provides an immersive experience. It makes the ambience of a venue very lively. Moving around in space in realtime is what an immersive audio system gets you.”

Talking about micro immersive, Wilkins informed that “it basically takes the same concept as the venue-wide immersive and shrink it down to more of a micro environment like it can be a premium club or you can acoustically change the sound or you can take it and put it into a premium suite using overhead speakers and it creates a much better experience for the guests.”

He added that personal immersive creates a personal connection to the fans by taking custom audio content and putting it on a device into a fan’s phone – “So, perfect example of this is a system called mixed halo where one can take custom audio content, create a dedicated audio channel to it and send it to your user’s phone and then they are able to access that audio. They can listen to the game in the language of their choice and can also get the experience of the game in their native language. It creates a very personal kind of touch.”


Brennan Wilkins summed up by stating, “Immersive audio is a new technology and is expensive. Content is going to be the king and in order to make any system like this successful one will have to have a dedicated person on staff to create the audio content. The venue operators/owners must think seriously on this line and don’t be scared to have the conversation. Immersive audio will be one of the factors that will pull the present crop of fans to the venues.”

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