Hidden Gem: Strathcona’s Lobe is the first spatial sound studio in B.C. to immerse listeners in 4DSound

The East Van studio supports artist residencies, private sessions and public events.

Lobe's Kate De Lorme and Edo Van Breeman

Credit: Lobe Studio. Kate De Lorme and Edo Van Breeman

The East Van studio supports artist residencies, private sessions and public events

On Family Day, I walked into Lobe Studio for a guided sound journey that promised to take me and 30 other visitors To the Moon.

Lobe is a spatial sound studio on 713 East Hastings Street with an integrated 4DSound system—a technology that co-founders Kate De Lorme and Edo Van Breeman experimented with during their (separate) artist residencies in Budapest in 2018. And because To the Moon is an all-ages event, I spent the better half of my afternoon jostling with kids and parents in a dark room with colour-changing hue bulbs.  

De Lorme, who grew up in Kelowna, graduated from UBC with a degree in theatre design and production in 2015, and has been working with spatial sound for the last 16 years. She builds shows with contemporary dance companies in Vancouver, and often tours with them as well. To the Moon is her own piece, and can aptly be described as a guided meditation on steroids, thanks to an array of 35 “satellite speakers” hanging from the ceiling and hidden in the floor grates. Combined with vibroacoustic floor panels, these omnidirectional speakers emit sound in 360 degrees and are able to trigger a “meditative state” in the listener, which, according to De Lorme, is similar to microdosing without substances. 

De Lorme’s piece begins with a quick “wiggle out” stretch. Then we lay down, the lights dim and her soothing, controlled voice starts to immerse us in a guided journey to the moon. Through the 4DSound software, sounds and lights ebb and flow, making the experience much more sensory than, say, meditating in your bedroom. It’s so immersive, in fact, that it’s often difficult to distinguish between noises in real life versus those in the piece itself.  

Salima Punjani_Lobe StudioSalima Punjani. Lobe Studio in use

“What was that?!” A kid yells as De Lorme guides our collective imagination into a space centre. “I felt that!” says another when the spaceship takes off and the floors vibrate. And as we enter the silent vacuum of outer space, I hear a little one whisper, “Mommy, can you hold my hand?”

B.C.’s first 4DSound studio

“There are two other studios in the world like ours,” says De Lorme. “One is in Budapest, and one is in Berlin. So we’re the only one in North America right now, and we’re quite a bit smaller than the other two, but I think we’re the only one with the vibrotransducer floors.” 

When De Lorme met musician Edo Van Breeman for coffee in 2018, she had no idea what she was getting herself into. Although they didn’t know each other, when Van Breeman was in Budapest, he heard the piece De Lorme had prepared during her artist residency, found out she’s from Vancouver and decided to reach out when he returned. 

“We had a three-hour coffee, and by the end of it, he said, Do you want to open a spatial sound studio with me? And I said, Yeah!” De Lorme recalls with a laugh. “And he said, Okay, cool, because I signed a lease this morning.” 

Motivated to make 4DSound technology more accessible for people to experience and for artists to work with without having to go to Europe, the duo launched Lobe Studio in 2020. The software enables artists to not have to think about the math and speakers—“You can just be like, I want a sound that’s this big, to be here, and you place it there in the software, and it figures out which speakers,” De Lorme explains.  

Jules Davies_Lobe StudioJules Davies. Lobe Studio

Lobe Studio’s offerings 

Lobe posts all upcoming events on its website calendar as well as on its Instagram.  

With a “core four” plus a handful of staff supporting operations, the studio offers artist residencies, private sessions and public events both in its studio and at other locations around B.C. De Lorme’s To the Moon is a short piece that premiered at the Sound Space festival hosted by Lobe and New Forms Festival in December 2022. The five-day by-donation event at Granville Island’s Performance Works theatre saw around 500 people show up in person (including me) for some incredibly unique performances by over 40 artists, many of them local.  

When asked about where her interest in sound came from, De Lorme takes a deep breath to answer. “I guess I realized that sound affects emotion,” she says. “Coming from live theatre, we both felt this need for human connection. We wanted to create a space and experiences where people had to be in person to experience it… and to be in a room with people, even if you’re not directly interacting with them, is healing and important for our humanity.”