d&b dives deep at l’Hydrophone, Lorient, France.
The submarine base in Lorient is the largest Germanic structure built outside of Germany during the Second World War. After many years of post-war occupancy by the French Navy who eventually abandoned the base in 1997, the decision was finally approved in 2017 for the city of Lorient to invest 5M euros in converting bays 5 and 6 into a centre of creativity dedicated to nurturing the culture of contemporary music.
The imposing structure - now rechristened l’Hydrophone - houses five rehearsal studios and two master control rooms for recording and broadcast purposes, as well as offices, dressing rooms, catering facilities and more. However, the jewel in the reinforced concrete crown is the 500-capacity concert hall that is fully equipped with a d&b V-Series line array system, fully optimised using the d&b ArrayProcessing technology.
There is also a second, more intimate concert hall known as ‘Le Club’; deliberately designed to be a less intimidating space in which young and emerging talent can perform. It is equipped to the same world- class standards with two d&b Vi10Ps per side, four Vi-GSUBs and four M6 stage monitors. The equipment for both rooms was supplied by the d&b regional distributor, Eurolive, and installed by local, Lorient-based rental company and integrator, Galloud Sonorisation.
For Mathias Alonso, Manager of the Hydrophone the brief was straightforward. He wanted a high quality, compact sound system that would be capable of handling all types of contemporary music, from rock to folk and everything in between. “At the time we were using Q-Series which sounded far better than anything else I had used up to that point,” he recalled. “When the rental company - Eurolive, actually! – upgraded to V-Series, I was even more impressed. The amount of power generated by such a small system combined with the clarity and definition of the sound put everything else in the shade.”
Having reviewed a variety of options, Alonso decided that his choices ultimately came down to two brands – d&b and a competing French brand. Alonso contacted d&b’s Thomas Ebran to discuss the possibilities. It quickly became clear that the ideal d&b solution would be the 3-way, 10-inch V-Series.
“V-Series offers the perfect power-to-size ratio for Hydrophone with plenty of headroom whilst remaining compact and visually discreet. Power output, directivity and coverage are tremendous. The competing solution was so much bigger and more cumbersome to achieve the same power output, it ended up being a very easy choice.”
On Alonso’s wish list, although not incorporated into the initial spec due to budget constraints, was d&b’s patented ArrayProcessing technology. “The difference made by applying the ArrayProcessing algorithms is nothing short of stunning,” admitted Alonso. “Even working with what is already an excellent system that is optimally set up and tuned, when you hear it again with ArrayProcessing, it’s like night and day. If you have the budget to do it, because it means effectively doubling your amp count, it’s worth every cent.”
ArrayProcessing works by analysing the performance of the array at a large number of receiver points along the listening plane. A powerful filtering algorithm is implemented within d&b’s ArrayCalc simulation software to optimise the tonal balance of the system so that each audience member enjoys the same auditory experience wherever he/she is in the room. It also enables precise control of level over distance, defined by the user this tool compensates for any anomalies in the room including differences in temperature and humidity.
“It really is the most amazing tool,” said Alonso in conclusion. “The sound is completely natural and transparent, and you can hear every detail of every instrument without straining your ears. The reactions so far have been 100% positive. Indeed, the results surpassed even our own expectations, so yes, we’re delighted. A big thanks to all at d&b. Dealing with d&b and their partners (Eurolive and Galloud Sonorisation) has been a pleasure and I know we can count on them for future support.”