I fell in love with the IKO upon first hearing it. Many times I have heard reproduction technologies (either with or without pre-emptive hyperbole) and been left flat. I have backed some things on Kickstarter because I like to support development where I can, and I have queued for demos of technologies in the promise of something special. I won’t provide examples of the disappointing systems here. Auditory perception is subjective and I imagine some people will like the sound they offer. Why spoil that?
An example of a technology I was impressed by the sound of, is the Bacch 3D sound system (https://www.princeton.edu/3D3A/PureStereo/Pure_Stereo.html).
3D reproduction using just two loudspeakers. Defined. Convincing. But it will cost you, and I did struggle to think of relevant applications for me. There is also limited translation before things degrade. But all said, it’s a treat for one’s ears.
If you wish to learn more about the technical aspects of compact spherical loudspeaker arrays info is available via IEM here (and fuller information about the IKO’s history and potential can be found here). I have tried over the years I’ve been working with spatial sound to understand some of the maths and technologies pertaining to spherical harmonics… it’s not easy but the challenge is one of the things that makes spatial sound so interesting. To have a practice, you do need to know more about the technologies and theory than in other forms of sound.
Artists who work with sound in space often work alongside engineers (to varying degrees of mutual (mis)comprehension I’m sure). It’s a curious thing, after centuries of progressive specialisation in academia and beyond, to address a realisation that phenomena may not always be best understood or explored in isolated conceptual structures.
The IKO is a unique proposition and having some months with it will be magical. Perhaps the works I make for it will only occupy a most extreme niche. I care not. It’s a privilege to be working intimately with it for 5 months. I just hope I remember that when things start failing, as they will.