Sound Wave Collider

Touring outdoor sculptural sound installation

Sound Wave Collider is an industrial sculptural sound installation for outdoor spaces

The five large-scale gleaming structures create a collision of interconnecting sounds for audiences to meander through and touch, feel, and contemplate the surroundings in this unique deep listening experience. 

The installation comprises five large ‘T’ shaped structures, made out of steel tubing approximately 60cm in diameter opening out to large flared cones 2.2m in diameter.

The five steel structures are placed in a circle, with the flared ends facing each other, creating five listening zones where people can stand and listen to the work, the sound sometimes seeming to pass through them. 

A supporting bright red steel framework holds the structure firmly in place. Hidden inside the base of each structure is a set of speakers and these are independently powered and controllable by the composer.

From July to September 2023 Sound Wave Collider was sited at Yorkshire Sculpture Park as part of their Curiosity and Wonder programme.

IOU commissioned sound artist Jason Singh to create a unique listening experience for the Sound Wave Collider from recordings taken by him from across the park over 5 days.  These recordings captured the hidden sounds of sculptures, plants, underwater organisms and wildlife of the surrounding landscape, creating a resonating sound world, wholly unique to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

Information and Specifications

The concept for Sound Wave Collider was first realised after IOU Artistic Director David Wheeler’s residency in Antarctica as part of the British Antarctic Survey and Arts Council England, Artists and Writers Scheme.

The installation was originally commissioned by Junction Goole in 2012 with soundscape by contemporary music composer Yannis Kyriakadis. It was based on the sound of high velocity vortex rings and was part of a series of works made by David on natural phenomena following his time in Antarctica.  This collaboration produced Speaking Tubes and Vortex – a live musical piece for eight musicians played through the installation.

Now called Sound Wave Collider, the installation has been redesigned for outdoor spaces and reimagined for compositions created by sound artists and musicians that are specific and unique to the sculpture’s location.

Audiences walk around and through the Sound Wave Collider structure, listening to the soundscape. The soundscape creates an atmospheric, contemplative, calm, and moving experience. Audience members can touch the metal structure and feel the sounds vibrating the metal surface – it is also a tactile experience and is suitable for hearing and sight impaired visitors.

To allow free movement to experience the work, the ideal number of people listening to the work at any one time would be approximately 15-25 people. 

Suitable for all ages.

Fully wheelchair accessible 

Neuro diverse ?

The soundscape lasts approximately 30 minutes and repeats continuously.  Audience engagement time is expected to be around 20 mins but sometimes people are likely to stay for longer periods. To allow free movement to experience the work, the ideal number of people listening to the work at any one time would be approximately 15-25 people. 

Sound Wave Collider can be programmed to run at any time throughout the day 

Sound Wave Collider comprises 5 steel structures with two loudspeakers in the central section of each structure. All 5 structures require a minimum total space of 11m x 11m to be set up and will have a height of 2.62m. The soundsystem runs using 10 mono channels of audio sent out separately to the 10 speakers. 5 speakers are 15”subs and 5 speakers are tops (including a mid range driver and tweeter). 

Playback is carried out using a Cymatic Audio LP-16, playing 44.1 kHz WAV files at 24 bit.

There is no active crossover in use in the speaker system. Therefore audio files are mixed to reflect a desired crossover point between the different spakers. Guideline suggestion for crossover point between the speakers is 150-200Hz. 

Sound System Specification

  • 5 x Studiospares Classic SN10 (80W, 50Hz-20kHz)
  • 5 x Ekho VX15Sub (400W, 30-300Hz)
  • Cymatic Audio LP-16
  • T amp 4-130
  • T amp E-400
  • T amp TSA 4-700
  • Behringer KM1700

The system has a practical frequency response of 40-18,000hz. 

Playback times for the installation are controlled using a digital plug timer rated for higher current inductive loads (15a max). A 5V DC arduino based system is used to delay a play control for the Cymatic Audio LP-16. 

Two 13a Type G domestic sockets are desired for the installation. The peak power draw for the installation is under 11a so it can be safely run from a single domestic Type G 13a socket.



Sound Wave Collider was funded by Arts Council England.

The sound installation ‘Speaking Tubes’ was originally commissioned by Junction Goole and was made possible through a Strategic Touring Grant from Arts Council England with the aim of supporting the development of new audiences for digital arts. Speaking Tubes visited Goole, Halifax and will visit Barnsley in 2016.