From 2016-2019 the SoundDome organisation operated as a registered charitable trust that provided sonic artists with a range of educational and developmental opportunities that supported the practice of sonic arts in New Zealand. The studio space in Matangi Waikato offered a safe-haven from the rigours of city life, opportunities to learn and grow from nearby Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari, access to purpose-built technologically advanced facilities, technical tuition, and facilitation of creative ideas relating to seven sub-disciplines: stereo and multichannel acousmatic music, live sonic arts, algorithmic music, environmentally-driven sonic art, visual music, interactive installation and innovative forms of popular music.
Through this work, the organisation sought to invigorate, support, and grow a community of creative practitioners who composed, performed, fabricated, innovated, and made use of technology; who studied and researched the language of music and sound; who learnt from and cared for the natural environment; and who used their individual and collective heritage as a source of musical inspiration. During the three years of its operation, the facility was visited by dozens of visitors both local and international, and a total of 92 minutes of multichannel acousmatic music was produced for the SoundDome by five prominent New Zealand Composers.
The SoundDome is an acoustically treated (near anechoic) 8m diameter, 5m-high geodesic dome (49sqM) fitted with 30 loudspeakers, designed specifically as an instrument for 'composing with three-dimensional space. The main speakers are configured in 2 rings of 8x Genelec 8050s at floor level, and at 1.85 metres, with an upper array of 6x 8050s, a single 7070 subwoofer, and an inner array of 7 8030s. The radius between the central listening point and the peripheral speaker array is 3 metres. The 8m dome is suitable for acousmatic work, interactive installation and visual music and has a capacity audience of 9 people. The installations and fixed media acousmatic works would normally run on a 10-30min repeat cycle.
The unique acoustic properties of the 8m dome allows unprecedented accuracy in phase addition and cancellation, which is necessary for the manipulation of three-dimensional sound images and the spatiaisation of up to 3rd-order (30-channel) ambisonic files – that is to say the shape of the dome causes identical reflections irrespective of the azimuth of the sound source. As such true ambisonic sound projection can only be achieved in dome or sphere-shaped spaces. Near-anechoic acoustic conditions are also required, and as such the SoundDome is fitted with 60 cubic metres of Autex sound insulation.
The 8m dome takes 4 days to erect and 1 day to set up and test the equipment with a team of 3 technicians.