CBC collaboration with d&b


At the age of only 31, the world renowned pianist, Glenn Gould, gave his last live concert performance. The Toronto born musician had developed an aesthetic preference for the recording studio, where, in his words, he nurtured a 'love affair with the microphone' which continued until his death in 1984. So it is, perhaps, no surprise that the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation chose to honor him when opening their state-of-the-art studio in 1992. These days the Glenn Gould Studios is not just a recording studio; it plays host to public audiences of up to three hundred and forty one who come to see CBC live productions as well as being a rental space for recording and corporate events.

So, with such a broad spectrum of performance artists to accommodate, when the time came to upgrade and renew, General Manager Mike Carroll knew he would need to find a highly flexible audio solution. "The system we had was from the original setup, installed in 1993. Everything was in need of upgrading as we simply couldn't cover the needs of either our external clients or the CBC productions. CBC decided to hire Dave Clark, an independent and well respected audio consultant who is based in the Toronto area. We performed a shoot-out with various manufacturers to test the systems in real life scenarios: live band, music playback and the spoken word. The final three companies were asked to demonstrate both a point source and a line array system; we wanted to get this absolutely right. Consultant, broadcast engineers, the GGS recording engineer and GGS sound technicians, as well as myself, were all involved in the evaluation process. A report card was devised for the procedure and the final choice was d&b audiotechnik who achieved the top score."

Apex Sound and Light, the d&b audiotechnik local partner, were the installers. Apex president Graham Northam elaborates on the rationale behind the final choice of system; "The Gould is a classic shoe box type room, designed for acoustic performance. Although not very large, about 60 x 90 feet including the stage area, it still has a natural 1.6 second reverberation time so you have to be very careful not to over excite the natural acoustic when using sound reinforcement."

So what concepts drove the final choice of loudspeaker and style of system for the installation? It was clearly a highly collaborative process as Northam comments, "CBC were very thorough; as always, Dave Clark did a lot of research and of course d&b audiotechnik Canada were very supportive." Carroll is clear about the final choice, "d&b was the best; it suited the room in terms of sound, aesthetics and price point. We opted for a point source system comprised of Qi7s and Qi10s; lightweight passive loudspeakers that can really perform for the audience without creating 'spill' issues on the stage." Glenn Gould Studio Engineer, Dennis Patterson, elaborates, "Some of our current clientele can produce a stage volume of over 100 dB. Although we are providing a live experience for the audience, we also need to isolate the onstage sound to a degree for recording purposes. It was really important that the loudspeakers did not create too much 'back end output' or bleed back into the stage mics."

As Northam says, "The Qi-Series offers superb pattern control which allows the user to point the sound only where you need it, exactly what was required in this room. Add to that the simplicity of the install without having to interfere with the infrastructure of the room and this was the best option both in terms of quality and cost." François Corbin from d&b audiotechnik Canada explains further, "Although a line array will generally out perform a point source in terms of loss of sound pressure level in a venue, if your room is not wide and has side walls that have reflective surfaces like the GGS, you don't want a small line array in there. You would be throwing energy on these side walls, bouncing and re-bouncing all over the place. At d&b, one of our not so obvious advantages, is that some of our point source loudspeakers can be loud, can play very, very loud, while still being physically small and light."

"The installation by Apex was on time and smooth," Carroll confirms. "Their initial positioning worked great and though we tried a couple of adjustments to see if improvements could be made we ended up going back to the original plan. I can honestly say the system has exceeded my expectations.”

One of the first gigs was the Hip Hop Summit performance, a full on hip hop show, with the royalty of the Canadian hip hop scene in the Glenn Gould Studio. As Patterson says, "This show would not have been possible with our old system. We're now able to serve all of our clients at the highest possible level of technical excellence. Whether they need lots of bass at 110 dB or just a light compliment to the acoustic, all our bases are covered."

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