Octave 9 is a new immersive, experimental education and performance venue space at Benaroya Hall. Incorporating sophisticated digital acoustics and projection technology, the project creates a highly flexible environment of “electronic architecture,” unbound by the dimensions of the room. From this flexible platform, Octave 9 offers a hub for artistic and high-tech partnerships to explore new worlds of musical expression.

Site and Program
Located in Benaroya Hall at the corner of Union Street and Second Avenue, Octave 9 provides new access to music education and experimentation in downtown Seattle. The renovated space expands on Seattle Symphony’s well-established educational programs, while providing a venue to host performances, board meetings and community events. Octave 9 also serves as an experimental space for artists and composers; a space in which to explore the capabilities of the venue itself as a creative tool for expanding interdisciplinary performance possibilities. The 2,500 square foot facility features 13 curving screens on circular tracks to provide numerous options for interactive projections, including a nearly-360-degree immersive experience. Absorptive materials and surfaces ensure that the highly flexible electronic acoustical systems perform as programmed.

To support the immersive experience, Octave 9’s physical environment can acoustically and visually disappear—an experience that responds to programming, rather than the surroundings. All surfaces and materials were considered for their acoustic properties and made absorptive rather than reflective: floors are carpeted; casework is made of micro-perforated wood; resting instruments go into built-in storage spaces; a mobile bar for social events can be rolled out or put away. Speakers, microphones, projectors, lighting and HVAC are all integrated into a custom-designed acoustically absorptive ceiling. Composed of an array of sound absorbing cells made of a recycled felt-like material, the ceiling design optimizes the room’s acoustic goals while also strategically minimizing technical, electrical and mechanical systems—including 10 projectors, 72 speakers and 28 microphones. The result is an intimate venue that is highly flexible and capable of morphing to the needs of the performance or activity, whether for a small school group, or an immersive, experimental artist performance.

Acoustic System
This important new resource for the Seattle Symphony significantly improves Benaroya Hall’s technological infrastructure. Using the Meyer Constellation digital acoustic system, the room can be outfitted to produce musical experiences that cross genres, disciplines and realities. Processors recreate early reflections and reverberation, and play them through a series of loudspeakers on the ceiling, casework on the floor and portable units placed around the edges of the curved screens to imitate the acoustic performance of other settings. The system further supports “spatial sound,” which allows individual speakers to play selective sounds or tracks in distinct areas of the room, creating the impression of movement and fostering innovative exploration. This electronic architecture allows Octave 9 to feel acoustically as large as the Taj Mahal, or as compact as a closet, providing a highly flexible and functional space that can be customized to the unique needs of each event.