The Hertz Lab has an infrastructure created for artistic research and presentation. It is available to artists and scientists at the house as well as guest artists.

The Institute for Music and Acoustics and the Institute for Visual Media developed the Sound Dome and the Panorama Lab, two extraordinary presentation venues that simultaneously allow for the exploration of spatial sound phenomena or immersive images.

For the exploration of areas such as sensor technology, image recognition, electronic composition, virtual reality, augmented reality or artificial intelligence, there are also a number of studios and workshops equipped for this purpose. These include four media technology studios, five music studios with octaphonic loudspeaker systems, two recording studios, a studio modelled on the Klangdom with a dome of 23 loudspeakers, and the Rapid Prototyping Lab.

A special place for special music: The Sound Dome

The Sound Dome, a high-tech instrument for sound spatialization in a cube. 43 Meyersound loudspeakers are suspended three-dimensionally in space on an elliptical ring system, another four are set up on the floor. The loudspeakers are arranged in a dome-shaped arrangement around the listeners. With this loudspeaker instrument, polyphonic space-sound movements can be realistically represented and perceived from any place in the concert hall.

A large room with a piano on a pedestal

It is precisely this plasticity of sound in the room that can be controlled with the specially developed Zirkonium control software.
This makes the Sound Dome a unique and ideal place for the development and reproduction of electroacoustic or acousmatic room music. The studio serves not only as a recording room, but also as a public concert hall for international guest performances and festivals as well as a laboratory for research work in the field of musical acoustics.

The combination of sound synthesis and spatialization is technically innovative, since the room acoustics themselves can be modeled through this. The Sound Dome is thus an instrument that can be operated by composers, making specialists between the composers acting as interpreters and the tonal concretion in space superfluous. In the Sound Dome, 40 melodies can be bundled to one point or distributed in space. Through the direct connection to sound synthesis software, spectral shapes can be placed directly in the room.

The Sound Dome is the starting point for numerous research projects dealing with various interfaces for room control as well as the reproduction of spatial sound information in common consumer formats (binaural sound recordings, HRTF, dummy head microphones). The room control software Zirkonium is also the subject of continuous research and development.

The ZKM_Cube at night
Cube at night

The visual landmark: The Cube

The cube is not only the visual landmark of the ZKM, but also forms the heart of the musical-artistic production. The blue cube was planned by the architectural firm Schweger und Partner as a large-volume, acoustically optimized recording studio; a free-standing architecture was realized, which was to ensure the most perfect acoustic decoupling possible from the surroundings.           

This objective was pursued with great structural effort: The steel girders of the building structure are mounted on rubber buffers, all rooms of the cube are double-walled, and double doors with high acoustic insulation were installed. The excellent room acoustics of the recording studio are due to an elaborate wooden interior.

Connecting the world of computer music with professional recording and production studios

Studios, control rooms and music studios are located on site. The studios and control rooms were designed as high-quality acoustic environments with special studio equipment for each individual room.

Artists and composers worldwide use the technologies for their artistic work and explore new possibilities of use. The combination of artistic work with a high-end studio environment stimulates new approaches that can hardly be found elsewhere. The invited guest artists work in the fields of live electronics, sound synthesis, algorithmic composition and multimedia integration with open computer systems. For a longer working stay at the Hertz Lab, music studios and the Minidome are also available to them.