HEAR THE SPHERE: Vegas Venue to Debut Exterior Audio During July 4 Bash

Posted on: June 20, 2024, 11:33h. 

Last updated on: June 20, 2024, 01:38h.

Starting July 4, the first anniversary of the illumination of what has become the world’s most famous outdoor video screen, Vegas visitors will be able to hear the Sphere as well.

The Vegas Sphere puts its spin on a fireworks show in an undated photo. (Image: Splash News)

The “Sphere Fourth of July Celebration” will feature six acts of all-new Exosphere visuals accompanied by XO Audio, which is described by a Sphere press release as “sound curated exclusively by Sphere Studios, synced to the movement of imagery on the Exosphere.”

We’ve only scratched the surface of what Sphere is capable of both creatively and technologically,” said Jim Dolan, executive chair and CEO of Sphere Entertainment, in the release. “Now, with the addition of XO Audio and XO Stream, we are building on our commitment to immersive experiences that create a deeper multi-sensory connection — one that can be shared across the Las Vegas community and around the world.”

XO Stream is the official 24/7 livestream of the Exosphere, which will also debut on Independence Day.

The Exosphere, the world’s largest digital display, has dramatically reshaped the Las Vegas skyline. It’s caused airline passengers to choose their seats based on viewing it from the correct position. It even helped spur a controversial new ordinance that forbids stopping along pedestrian bridges spanning the Las Vegas Strip. (Here, tourists commonly wait, often for longer than 10 minutes, for the perfect Sphere graphic to snap a selfie — usually, with the yellow emoji.)

Can You Sphere Me Now?

Neither Dolan, nor Sphere officials, explained how XO Audio will solve the problem of projecting its sound without breaking Clark County noise ordinances. Hearing the Sphere would seem to require proximity that interferes with optimal viewing.

While the Exosphere, which is 366 feet tall and 516 feet wide, can be seen up from more than a mile away, the images it projects cannot be seen from directly beneath the venue. That’s because the top half of the Sphere curves away from view and, more importantly, because the images appear only as single pixels of unrelated light.

The best Sphere viewing requires a distance of at least a quarter mile. This is why tens of thousands have paid between $11-$38.50 (plus fees and tax) to park at the LAZ Parking structure at 3763 Howard Hughes Parkway just to enjoy the Sphere from its top floor between the venue’s concert performances.

Projecting clear audio that far seems highly problematic.

Audio Problems

Las Vegas has a long history of controversy over just about everything. So of course that includes the audio portion of its popular signs.

In 1968, City Commissioners voted to instruct the Pioneer Club to silence Vegas Vic. Since the famous neon cowboy’s installation in 1951, he had been greeting passersby with a loud “Howdy, Podner!” every few minutes — a feature that wasn’t wildly popular with guests attempting to sleep inside The Mint’s 26-story hotel tower, which opened directly across Fremont Street in 1965.

Contrary to a persistent popular myth, actor Lee Marvin didn’t break Vic’s voicebox by shooting an arrow through it.