Whereas film is used to show reality to an audience, cyberspace is used to give a virtual body, and a role, to everyone in the audience. Print and radio tell; stage and film show; cyberspace embodies. […]. A spacemaker sets up a world for an audience to act directly within, and not just so the audience can imagine they are experiencing an interesting reality, but so they can experience it directly. […]. The filmmaker says, “Look. I’ll show you.” The spacemaker says, “Here, I’ll help you discover.”  

(cited by Rheingold 1991, 286)


Project Leader: Dr. Dirk Schröder

Project News

Exhibition at the Montreux Jazz Festival 2014

During this year’s festival, we proudly present a time travel to the 1970s. We have reconstructed the legendary Casino of Montreux, which burnt down in 1971 during a concert by Frank Zappa. Using state-of-the-art techniques in high-class visual rendering, room acoustics simulation and 3D audio reproduction, we have designed a cutting-edge audiovisual installation that lets everyone relive the Casinos’s dense live atmosphere in an authentic and enveloping way. 

Casino Renderings

The interactive installation features George Benson’s award-winning hit “Give me the night” and Woodkid’s “Iron”, which were both recorded at last year’s Montreux Jazz Festival, but are now sent back in time as a performance in the reconstructed Casino of 1971. By using a high-end 17-channel loudspeaker system we create an immersive 3D sound experience that will blow your mind!

System Setup

We are located at the Chalet d’en bas and demos are given every day from 4 – 10 pm during the whole festival. We will also give a workshop on Sunday July 13 at 5 pm in the Petit Palais (on the festival site) , where we will give deep insights on our project, which includes both historical facts of the Casino and technical details on our installation.


The festival is over and now it seems a good time to look back at what happened during the 16 days of the Montreux Jazz Festival 2014. All in all, we gave more than 200 demonstrations to a wide audience across generations, ranging from ordinary festival visitors, students and scientists, artists and musicians to audio experts such as acousticians and professional sound engineers. We are happy to say that we constantly received very positive feedback throughout the whole festival, people were applausing, shiny eyes and smiling faces all over and from time to time we could see some tears of joy from visitors recalling memories of past times. It was an overwhelming experience for us!

”  My father took me to the Casino when I was a kid and experiencing this installation brings back so many great
memories! Thank you so much! 

”  This is so impressive, I could listen to this for hours! No, for days! Weeks! 

” I attended so many concerts in the Casino when I was young, and this (the installation) is so authentic, it feels like I’m there again … it feels like I’m 25 again! Incredible! “

” I want your sound system! “

” That’s so cool! What do I have to study if I want to do exactly this? Do you offer courses on this at EPFL? (yes, we do!) “

” You know, I’m an architect and the framework of yours is exactly what we architects need! Do you sell it? (after giving some insights on our simulation framework) ” 

” Bravo! Bravo! Bravo! Bravo! “

” Wow! I’m … speechless! I spent a fortune on my home cinema system, but this is definitely another league!  Why does it sound so much better ? It feels like I’m really, I mean, really attending the concert! 

” Is it OK if I attended the demo for a second time? This is truly outstanding! “

Poster MJF2014

 In the Press




Immersive Exploration of the Montreux Jazz Archive

At the intersection of science, art and technology, the project I.AM (Immersive Archives of MontreuxJazz) focuses on blending together cutting-edge technology and research at EPFL with the audio-visual archive of more than 40 years of live recordings at one of the world’s finest and second largest annual music festivals, the Montreux Jazz Festival. This outstanding archive, which lately had been given UNESCO heritage status, comprises over 5,000 hours of video and audio recordings from more than 4,000 concerts including big names such as Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Deep Purple, Johnny Cash, Alanis Morissette, David Bowie, Santana, Muse, Radiohead and Prince – just to name a few.

In the course of this project, we want to let everyone immersively experience this musical library, which Quincy Jones once attested ‘a universal significance and intercultural dimensions that have no direct equal in the world’. Dealing with state-of-the-art techniques for creating (interactive) immersive virtual environments, and in particular with generating spatialized auditory stimuli, we will create an authentic experience of the past, the present and the future of Montreux Jazz. When browsing the Montreux Jazz Archive, the user will be able to virtually attend the chosen concert in either one of Montreux Jazz Festival’s concert venues, such as the concert hall of the Montreux Casino and the Auditorium Stravinksi of the Montreux Convention Center or the forthcoming Montreux Jazz Lab at EPFL (opening scheduled for spring 2015). In addition, we will resurrect the legendary Kursaal, which burnt down on December 4th, 1971, during a concert by Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention after an overenthusiastic fan fired off a flare that set fire to the ceiling. The well-known song “Smoke on the water” pays tribute to this tragedy by telling the story of Deep Purple’s recordings of their album “Machine Head” at Montreux Casino that was interrupted by this fire.

But what does ‘virtually attending’ mean? From our understanding, it is key for a deeply immersive reproduction to not only provide spatial audiovisual stimuli that fit with real-world experiences but also to create a realistically responding interactive 3D-environment. Especially the unrestricted exploration of the virtual concert venue is a basic requirement here to provide a feeling of actual presence that leads to a more natural user behavior. For instance, the user will instinctively stroll around until the (subjectively) best listening spot is found. But cannot virtuality do even more? Why not jump on the stage and jam with your favorite musicians? Or listen to the concert at spots that are usually not accessible? Enabling such an all-embracing user experience is exactly what I.AM is about.

Auralization Concept I

While the visual reproduction of virtual environments is most elaborated today, the determination of the spatial sound field in enclosures is still a difficult task, especially under real-time constraints. In indoor scenarios, even rather simple situations require quite complex acoustic models, and the more the user is allowed to interact with the scenery, the more this complexity increases. Flexible simulation models are required that describe directional patterns of sound-emitting sources and the receiver, as well as the wave phenomena of sound diffraction, sound scattering and sound transmission, without leading to an explosion of computation time. 

Auralization Concept I

We therefore utilize a real-time room acoustics simulation and auralization framework that features all simulation criteria mentioned above. Using state-of-the-art simulation algorithms, the framework analyzes in real-time the current enclosure to discover the accurate directions on which the sound will travel through space. The framework’s audio processing then automatically adapts to the present listening situation and renders high-quality 3D audio either as binaural signal for headphone reproduction or as multi-channel signals for loudspeaker-based reproduction systems such as Ambisonics.

This way, we expect to create a mind-boggling user experience that meets the uniqueness of the Montreux Jazz Archive.

Old News

Exhibition at the Montreux Jazz Festival 2013


During the Montreux Jazz Festival 2013, we showed first project results to a selected audience of artists, journalists, audio engineers, architects and other music enthusiasts. Over 1,000 people took the opportunity to visit the exhibition at Le Picotin in Caux, domicile of Montreux Jazz and former home of Claude Nobbs, the founder of the Montreux Jazz Festival who passed away in January 2013 due to a tragic accident.

We presented a first sonic preview of the future Montreux Jazz Lab at EPFL that will feature a stage room for live performances, a restaurant and a café. Using an intuitive iPad application (see screenshot below), visitors were given the possibility to browse through a selection of songs of the Montreux Jazz Archive and listen to them at various positions in the virtual Montreux Jazz Lab, for instance, standing in front of the stage or sitting in the café. Furthermore, top-notch audio technology such as the Sound Relief and the SounD Dots, developed at the EPFL’s acoustics group, LEMA, was incooperated in the simulation to give a first impression of their employement in the Montreux Jazz Lab.

We are happy to say that we consistently received positive feedback. Many people could not even believe that this was the result of simulations pointing out how natural and realistic it sounds. In fact, the biggest compliment they could make and an indication for us that we follow the right path.

iPad Application for Sonic Preview of the Montreux Jazz Lab