World's largest spherical structure opens with immersive U2 concerts
After lighting up its 580,000-sq-ft LED-packed exterior for the first time back in July, Las Vegas' newest entertainment venue officially opened for business this weekend with the first of a string of Achtung Baby live concerts by rock band U2.
The world's largest spherical structure was first announced back in 2018, and was originally earmarked for a 2021 grand opening. As with many projects around the world, COVID-19 had other ideas and the structure wasn't completed until just a few months ago.
The Sphere is located a block from the Las Vegas Strip and measures 516 ft wide a 366 ft high (157 x 111.5 m). Its 580,000-sq-ft (~54,000-sq-m) outer shell sports some 1.2-million pucks, each home to 48 LED diodes, that together provide a "vivid canvas" for eye-popping animations, show announcements, key information, and of course brand advertising.
The main arena inside can seat 17,600 or a total of 20k including folks who stand, and features an up, over and around dome-shaped screen at 16k x 16k pixels for adding a new dimension to the performances on the stage or "Sphere Experiences" on display.
In addition to the visuals, Sphere Entertainment developed "the most advanced concert-grade audio system in the world" for the venue, powered by Berlin-based HoloPlot.
The setup is made up of 1,600 HoloPlot X1 Matrix Array loudspeaker modules and 300 mobile units rocking a total of 167,000 drivers, each powered by its own amplifier and the whole shebang is hidden out of sight behind the 160,000-sq-ft (14,865-sq-m) interior display.
The Sphere Immersive Sound system makes use of next-gen 3D audio beamforming technology plus wave field synthesis (spatial audio), along with custom optimization algorithms that compensate for any audio transmission losses, to ensure that each audience member is treated to "a truly exceptional and personal listening experience."
And it was in this packed-out immersive venue that U2 kicked off the 25-date UV Achtung Baby Live at the Sphere concert run, which is based around the band's seventh studio album from 1991 while also including a brand new song called Atomic City.
Not every band member was on the Brian Eno-inspired turntable stage though, as drummer Larry Mullen Jr is currently recuperating after surgery so Bram van den Berg from the Dutch band Krezip is filling in. In addition to snapshots and other U2-related imagery displayed on the immense backdrop, the band also showcased bespoke works from artists like Es Devlin, John Gerrard, Marco Brambilla, and Industrial Light & Magic.
The remainder of the UV Achtung Baby concerts will run until December 16, but the first audiovisual Sphere Experience entitled Postcard from Earth is due to slot in for its debut in the main atrium on October 6.
Source: Sphere Entertainment