Rocking at the Rockhal

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Nestled neatly between Belgium, France and Germany, Luxembourg has traditionally used its unique position to think outside the box; the phenomenally successful pirate Radio Luxembourg of the late twentieth century is a case in point. In the twenty-first century, this tiny state has found a new way to encourage and develop music and performance. The publicly funded Rockhal, located in Esch-sur-Alzette is not only a busy commercial concert venue (presently averaging at least fifteen touring acts every month), but its underlying remit is to support, develop and promote the domestic music scene.

Olivier Toth is the General Manager of the Centre de Musicques Amplifiées (the public company of the Rockhal). His commitment to maintaining and supporting the development of the Luxembourg music scene is unambiguous: "After two years we now see that emerging new acts that sell out our small club venue weeks in advance cannot make the crossover to the larger main venue because of the extra investment in sound and light to stage a show there. The solution is that we invested in a basic configuration covering up to half of the main hall." The main multifunctional hall boasts a capacity of six thousand, five hundred standing so Toth was committing to the purchase of a substantial PA installation.

The remit was passed on to Roland Roeltgen, the Venue Technical Supervisor, who researched the possibilities thoroughly. "We had several demos with other brands but then Frank Geerts, theatre and PA sales manager with Amptec who had taken on the installation of our recording studio in 2006, suggested trying the new d&b J-Series. They did a good job with the Ancienne Belgique concert hall in Brussels illustrating the functionality and sound quality of the system."

As Geerts explains, "The Rockhal was the perfect project for us. Although I did the initial demo and design, the support I had from my colleagues David Liebens, Bart Willems and the rest of the Amptec team was incredible, particularly as we took on the wiring network in the hall with tailor made fifty channel multicores, stageboxes, and all associated audio infrastructure in a very short time".

For the main PA Amptec installed a J-Series system including a cardioid subwoofer array, with M2s for stage monitors and Q-Series loudspeakers as side and drum fills, all driven by D12 amplifiers. Roeltgen was generous in his praise of the system and the way Amptec engineers had dealt with the necessity of a rapid delivery and installation window. "It was Machine Head, a hardcore metal act, who first made use of the system and they were the ideal band to check out the system's limiters and desk output. It stood the test superbly."

The Rockhal can now offer a quality platform for those up and coming acts who would otherwise struggle to showcase their music in such a venue whilst still preserving the Rockhal as a major venue for large touring productions. "With the J-Series as a fixed installation in our main hall we now have the flexibility to experiment," adds Roeltgen. "The system is widely accepted in the market, many engineers know how to work with it and they can still easily bring in their own FOH console if they want. Audio can be fully operational in less than three hours." Luxembourg seems to have proved, once again, that being the best and being the biggest is not necessarily the same thing!

A version of this story appeared in Pro Sound News Europe December 2009 © UBMi Ltd.

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