David Stein with a preview of
Music Narrative/storytelling Performance Sound

Transitions, a Narrative in Spatial Audio

“Transitions” a performance created with Spatial Audio. An experiment in techniques and tools to allow an artist to enhance a narrative and create more engaging experiences for their audiences.


David Evan Stein


Adaora Udoji


Identifying the location of sounds that we hear has always been an important element of human survival. The auditory system is remarkable in its ability to interpret subtle differences in volume, frequency, and timing of audio signals as they reach our ears. These differences allow us to understand the location of sound sources and identify the direction a sound is moving. For our ancestors, this capability was crucial for hunting for our next meal. Today, sound localization still plays an important role in our lives, for instance, it can help identify who is speaking in a crowded room or detect potential threats such as a car horn when entering a crosswalk. It has also been found that taking advantage of our ability to locate sounds can make music and other forms of entertainment more realistic and engaging. With audiences looking for more and more ways to enhance their sensory experience, entirely new possibilities in the areas of music, theater acoustics, virtual reality and video games now exist that can take advantage of spatial audio. It is these possibilities that got me excited to experiment with how an artist can use spatial audio to enhance a narrative and create a more engaging experience for their audiences.

David Stein with a preview of


Technical Details

The technology of this project involved the development of both dashboard and mobile apps as well as a musical instrument which uses MIDI and additional networking technology to control the 8 Speaker Panner Control within Ableton. To map sound across 50 different speakers in the Sound Studio, speakers were organized in groups of 8 (i.e., 8 speakers representing 4 corners and 4 walls) and sounds/instruments could be mapped to individual speakers within these groups. Supporting this project included developing communication servers in Node.JS, P5 Sketches for User Interfaces, Arduino code as well as an Isadora Sketch for visuals.

David Stein performing with the Spatial Audio Pad Controllers at NIME 2022Screenshot of both a desktop based dashboard and mobile appFabrication of the Spatial Sound Pad Controller, shows the CNC and assembly of Pads