Free Your Mind

A creative journey into sound

Free Your Mind

"X1 provided us with the ability to cover the entire space, whilst being visually discreet, and gave me control in both the vertical and horizontal domain to create tightly defined coverage areas for the audience. It also sounds great."

—     Gareth Fry, Sound Designer

The Matrix brought to life

Inside a brand-new creative complex

Just like the film classic, The Matrix, Free Your Mind at AVIVA Studios in Manchester offered a choice: red pill for ignorance or blue pill for the unknown, inviting the audiences into The Matrix through a mind-altering live experience.

A stellar creative team

Realized by a team of creative heavyweights including Oscar-winning film director Danny Boyle, choreographer Kenrick ‘H2O’ Sandy, and composer Michael ‘Mikey J’ Asante MBE (co-founder of Boy Blue), alongside world-leading designer Es Devlin, this immersive production challenged perceptions and invited viewers to confront the boundaries of reality.

With sound design by Olivier and Tony award-winning sound designer Gareth Fry, Free Your Mind brought an unforgettable fusion of art, technology, and storytelling, pushing the boundaries of live performance.

A HOLOPLOT X1 sound system, installed by HOLOPLOT partner Creative Technology played an integral part in allowing the audience to break free from the constraints of the known.

A tale of experience

Harnessing the power of unique technology

Sound designer Gareth Fry embodies the ethos of working with cutting-edge technology to serve his creative vision.

Having attended one of the very first demos in the UK of HOLOPLOT post pandemic, he knew straight away that X1 would be perfect for the project he was working on at the time, Lightroom in London - a venue which, like AVIVA Studios, is a big rectangular space with highly reflective walls.

He was certain that a similar approach would help him deliver against the challenging brief for Free Your Mind. To ensure the creative team behind the show were on board with his thinking, he brought Mikey J Asante along to another HOLOPLOT demo in 2022. According to Gareth, they were “blown away”.

Going the distance

Concept and brief

The space itself determined the set design. Es Devlin and her team emphasized the long, yet narrow space, using an LED screen, raised and lowered above the central stage, to create both intimacy and atmosphere.


70m long, narrow event space, divided by catwalk-style stage

Audience facing each other on either side, with agency to move around

Unobstructed sightlines were a non-negotiable. Any loudspeakers had to either fit underneath the LED screen or had to be hung on the periphery of the room


The combination of the above factors created a challenging environment for sound reinforcement in terms of SPL power and expected level-drop over distance, as well as uncontrolled sound dispersion causing unintelligible audio.

The setup

Coverage from end to end

The final system design featured four arrays of six X1, consisting of three MD80-S and three MD96 each. 

One in each corner of the room, each array was focused down into the audience area to ensure optimal coverage across the entire space, calling upon HOLOPLOT’s ability to tightly define coverage zones. This ensured the sound fields from each array would not interfere with each other, creating high-quality, intelligible audio for the entire audience. 

The system was supplemented with point source cabinets, rigged from the LED screen for object-based activity, but not substantial enough to create a fully immersive feel, according to Gareth.

By adding the X1 arrays he was able to create the immersion he wanted and address the coverage and audio crossover challenges posed by the size of the room.

The sound design elevated the score by Mikey J, creating something bigger sounding than could ever be achieved in a cinema setting, allowing the audience to bathe in the sounds, moving freely on either side of the stage.

“Free Your Mind challenged the senses from the first note of music to the last pixel of content. There was no doubt HOLOPLOT was the only solution able to deliver this level of audio brilliance.”

—     Lee Dennison, Creative Technology

All photographs © Tristram Kenton and Daniel Devlin