Beam Steering for All with Renkus-Heinz’s OmniBeam Software

by | Audio, Audio Connections, Production

When approaching new audio systems, system designers often face significant challenges with reflective surfaces, loudspeaker size, and aesthetics. An excellent solution to address these challenges is beam-steerable loudspeaker technology. Beam-steerable loudspeakers combine intelligible, highly directed sound with a discreet and unobtrusive form factor, making them an excellent choice for many applications, no matter the size or shape of the intended venue. Put simply, beam steering allows the user to focus sound directly at the intended audience areas without physically aiming the loudspeaker. There are no motors inside the loudspeaker. Instead, the steering is done entirely through unique digital signal processing (DSP) applied to each driver. Each driver in a digitally steered loudspeaker gets a unique set of delay, frequency response and amplitude adjustments to put consistent, high-quality sound exactly where the user desires.

Think of the focused beam of a flashlight. Now imagine that beam of light as a beam of sound. Beam-steering loudspeakers can create tightly controlled sound beams and direct them right where needed — on the audience. By directing sound towards the audience and away from other surfaces that may cause reflections, steerable loudspeakers deliver consistent, highly intelligible speech and natural music reproduction to every seat in the house. Eliminating the need to physically aim the loudspeakers means that beam-steered loudspeakers can often be mounted directly to the wall, hung plum or even hidden flush inside the wall, ensuring clear sightlines and minimal architectural intrusion. Wall mounting also removes the need for expensive rigging points or additional ceiling cabling infrastructure, which helps reduce installation costs significantly. 

The goal for many sound systems is consistent front-to-back coverage, meaning that people in the front of the room hear the same sound as the people in the back of the room. Beam-steerable loudspeakers achieve the excellent custom-tailored coverage they’re known for by steering the individual beams at separate audience locations. Going back to the earlier flashlight metaphor, if a single tight flashlight was aimed at the back of the room, it might miss the front or middle of the room, and those portions of the audience would still be in the dark. Additional flashlights would need to be aimed at the front and middle of the room for everyone to see clearly; the front and middle flashlights would need to have their brightness lowered and color adjusted slightly to ensure consistent brightness and color across the entire audience area.

Creating beam-steered loudspeaker coverage has traditionally followed a similar process. Multiple beams often need to be superimposed with the correct aiming, gain and filter settings to deliver the optimal coverage for a space. While this process delivers incredible acoustic results, it can be time- and knowledge-intensive for the uninitiated.

Audio should be an immersive experience that brings people together; no one should settle for suboptimal sound. Renkus-Heinz has long been a world leader in beam-steering technology, with successful installs in government, transportation, houses of worship and hospitality venues across the globe. While their steerable technology is already known as some of the easiest to use in the industry, they’ve refused to settle for the status quo and have continued innovating steerable technology to deliver outstanding audio and unprecedented ease of use. Their new OmniBeam technology is the fulfillment of this mission.

OmniBeam is the culmination of decades of expertise in steerable loudspeakers and is the latest evolution of beam-steering technology from Renkus-Heinz. Engineered to ensure exceptional, accessible, hassle-free sound for every venue, OmniBeam combines Renkus-Heinz’s most advanced coverage generation algorithms with a straightforward user interface. OmniBeam is revolutionizing the workflow of digital beam-steered loudspeakers, making them more accessible, easier to use and faster to set up than ever before. It’s truly a game-changer for many audio applications. With an intuitive, easy-to-use workflow that can generate custom coverage in seconds, OmniBeam technology makes the benefits of steerable technology more accessible than ever before, something that any audience can benefit from no matter the size, shape or installation timeline ahead of you.

The OmniBeam update can be found inside BeamWare, a plugin utility within our RHAON II system manager software. The software user just needs to enter the mechanical position of the loudspeaker as well as the information for the audience area. After those two pieces of information are input, the user clicks the “Snap To Audience Area” button, which immediately moves the aiming handles to the start and endpoints of the audience area and in seconds, generates the steering coefficients necessary for the coverage. If any adjustments are required, they can be done on the fly by simply moving the aiming handles to their desired locations.

Ultimately, this new OmniBeam workflow is simple, intuitive and faster to set up than traditional point source or line array systems, helping users save time and money. Beam-steering loudspeakers offer the best of both worlds for many audio applications in that they tightly control and direct the sound where needed while their relatively small form factor allows them to blend in easily with the room’s architecture. Clear audio is crucial for immersive experiences, and audiences shouldn’t settle for less-than-ideal audio. By combining the unbeatable performance of steerable arrays with an accessible, easy workflow akin to point-and-shoot loudspeakers, OmniBeam now allows almost any facility — no matter the size, shape or budget — to enjoy custom-tailored sound for a truly engaging audio experience.

About the author
Brandon Heinz is the Product Manager for Renkus-Heinz, a leading loudspeaker manufacturer. During his 12-year tenure, he has overseen the launch of many new product series that have grown the company’s market presence and reinvigorated Renkus-Heinz’s legacy as a leader and innovator in the pro audio industry.

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