From its humble roots—a small audio production company founded by friends with a common interest in music and technology—Calgary-based PK Sound has gone on to become one of the premier manufacturers and production companies in the world, known for their continual innovations and technological developments in the field of professional audio. While most heads on the dancefloor are unaware of the technology involved in building and managing a proper sound system, attendees at this year’s Bassrush Experience at EDC Las Vegas are going to be in for a treat, as PK Sound is set to unveil Trinity, the most advanced professional audio system in the world.
Trinity is the first system able to remotely sculpt sound in three dimensions, making the dancefloor experience feel as close as you can get to the original studio-based sound design of your favorite tunes. It is “the future of sound reinforcement,” says PK Sound President and CEO Jeremy Bridge. “We are able to achieve precision and accuracy previously unobtainable.”
Using special software linked to electronic actuators housed in each loudspeaker, audio engineers will be able to make adjustments instantly to place the sound exactly where they want at the touch of a button. Compared to traditional speaker systems with fixed horizontal and vertical sound dispersion patterns that can’t be changed once manufactured, the flexibility and precision offered by Trinity ensures that the sonic experience will be unlike anything else you’ve experienced.
Before this beast of a system is formally launched into the soundsphere of EDC, we thought it only right to check in with Bridge for an even closer glimpse at the sonic bliss headed our way.
How did PK Sound originally come together, and what was the initial vision behind it?
PK’s roots started in the early 2000s with a group of friends who grew up loving electronic music and simply wanted to give back to the scene an extra special and unique entertainment experience. We wanted to provide more than just what you would get at the standard show; we wanted people to be completely immersed in a visually and sonically transformed environment they would never forget. Over time, that passion morphed into a group of professionals with exceptional skills, which provided the base of our company. All of us have always been inspired by music, and many of us are musicians. Since the beginning, we have had a different vision of what a company should be, and that’s why everyone at PK is an owner in the company. I mean everyone—not just the managers and executives—but also the people who are stocking the shelves, loading the trucks and answering the phones.
From that initial idea, how did things evolve into the company that it’s become today?
Over time, we kept coming back to what we were truly passionate about: providing a next-level sound experience. We started building loudspeakers first for our own shows, then to do shows for other events; along the way, we met some amazing people, and our loudspeakers began to tour across North America with very prominent artists like Skrillex, Excision, Bassnectar and more. After doing thousands of shows hands-on, beginning to end, we had an idea we believed could truly change the shape of concert sound: a tool that would allow sound engineers to give the audience dramatically better sound much easier and faster. That’s when we decided to really turn up the heat and spent the next four years in solid R&D. 2015 is going to be a huge year for us!
After doing thousands of shows hands-on, beginning to end, we had an idea we believed could truly change the shape of concert sound.
You’ve delivered some heavy-duty sound for Insomniac and Bassrush in the past, but we hear you’ve got an extra special rig you’re preparing to unleash on us this year!
EDC will be the official world premiere of Trinity, a completely new approach to sound system design. Trinity uses electronically actuated loudspeaker elements to aim and steer the sound remotely from a computer. This allows the engineer to perfectly focus the sound field onto the audience area. Trinity is designed to be extremely efficient, with high output—a 6,000-watt class D amplifier individually drives all four sections of the loudspeaker. The CMI (Coherent Midrange Integrator) seamlessly combines the mid and high frequencies so that every person in the audience receives the same experience.
That sounds intense! How does that translate into what we’re going to hear and feel on the dancefloor?
With Trinity, the sound is focused directly onto the dancefloor. That allows us to turn it up without sound spilling outside of the venue or negatively impacting other stages. Trinity isn’t just louder with fancy remote control elements; from the ground up, it was designed to be the most beautiful loudspeaker you will ever hear, and we truly believe it is.
I imagine the DJs will notice a difference as well.
Yes, besides all the smiling faces on the dancefloor, DJs will notice that Trinity doesn’t spill onto the stage like other sound systems. The controlled nature of the sound field allows us to keep the sound energy off the stage so that it doesn’t conflict with their monitors.
How large a system are we talking about here, and what goes into the actual setup of a rig like this?
We are talking about over 160 loudspeakers, including the main PA, subwoofers, delays and side fills. This is going to sound like a sales pitch, but normally it would be quite a lot of effort to deploy a system like this, especially a line array. Trinity removes a tremendous amount of time because it hangs straight, and then we adjust and fine tune it afterward remotely from a laptop.
Fine-tuning each element is probably an art in and of itself. What kinds of qualifications are needed to run this system?
Any tool is only as good as the person who is using it, so only Trinity-certified technicians are allowed to use the system. We have a multi-day training program where experienced technicians learn to use the advanced features of the system, and we do everything from training how to use the software to helping assemble a box. We ensure that every technician who uses Trinity is an expert.
You mentioned that PK’s roots are in electronic dance music. Would you consider this a system designed with electronic music in mind?
We love electronic music. In our shop, there are at least 10 DJs and three to four producers—everything from downtempo to D&B to house. We also have a bunch of band guys too, to be fair! We really believe it’s important that the person operating the system is passionate about the music being played. It’s like everything: You just do a better job when you love it.
While Trinity is designed to be transparent and very good at all types of music, it is designed explicitly to handle the extra pressure that EDM places on loudspeakers. Compared to genres like rock or other types of live music, EDM is simply harder on everything. It has a very high RMS content since it is so well mastered. In addition, the shows are usually louder and go on continuously for a much longer time. All of this puts extra strain on all of the loudspeaker components, from the amplifier to the speakers themselves. With EDM, you essentially have to over-design the entire system if you want it to perform exceptionally at top volume, and that’s what we do.
You really want the basslines, kicks, snares, synths and vocals to be very distinct. You need to ensure every part of the loudspeaker is extremely precise and transparent. It is important to ensure that there is space for all of the dynamic elements to combine, allowing you to hear each one with definition and clarity.
If this is the most advanced PK system on the planet, where do you go from here?
Right now we are working on some very advanced computer optimization techniques that will be used in the future with Trinity. These features will allow users to have even more control over the sound field.