A grand and beautiful sound with d&b at De Roma.

De Roma is a special place in Borgerhout, Antwerp’s smallest district. Venues of such caliber are hard to find: the history, the neighborhood, the approach, the people. Since reopening in 2003, De Roma has invested substantially, rebuilding its balcony, renewing outside walls, and restoring the original houselights. All that was missing was high quality sound, and for that the venue required something of an acoustic makeover. But nothing would be done in half measures.

As a classified building, De Roma’s team had a hard time coming up with an acoustic solution that would not distort the romance of the hall. To ensure the project would be realized with the greatest respect, De Roma joined forces with Amptec, who recommended acoustical expert Eddy Bøgh Brixen, who in turn suggested teaming up with ShowTex, a world leader in the manufacturing and installation of innovative drapes and backdrops.

Together the goal was to harmonize venue and acoustics, to overcome flutter, undesired reflections and long reverberations, all the while paying careful consideration to the unique character of the room.

“An acoustic treatment for the ceiling seemed unrealizable due to so many restrictions,” explains Frank Geerts from Amptec. “But ShowTex developed a custom solution for the hall. Two giant inflatable shells in the shape of the existing dome, made of specially coated woolen textiles. The shells are continuously inflated during concerts acting as absorbent membranes. The big hollow dome became a spherical dome and resolves the flutter problem.

“The side walls of the grand hall serve as bass traps. De Roma and Amptec designed paneling, installed in front of the original walls and painted to preserve the typical appearance of the hall. Kopspel vzw, a partner and neighbor of De Roma, carried out the installation. Kopspel is a work experience project helping students and young people who want to reconnect with the regular employment circuit.

“From the first week of the test phase, it was clear that with the latest techniques De Roma would sound grand and beautiful, with no more hard reflections on the back walls and ceiling, or undesirable reflections on the side walls.”

To minimize the low frequency reverberation time a sub array is neatly concealed under the front stage, making De Roma the first venue in Belgium to boast a configuration of such size and power. “With a long line array, including flown subs and utilizing ArrayProcessing, the huge balcony got the sound it was entitled to,” confirms Geerts.
The sound system in the room is complemented by V7Ps and E6s. “Onstage, you will find M4 monitors, optimizing sound for the musician. A 10AL system is positioned beside the film screen for cinema sound; the cinema system is integrated using the installation specific 30D amplifiers placed in a new, centrally located amplifier rack. Control is made possible via the d&b R1 Remote control software or via the Amptec GPIO controller. But even that was not enough. The foyer could be better. So we opted to install a flown V10P with accompanying V-SUB.”

Owing to financial support from Antwerp’s Alderman of Culture, Caroline Bastiaens, and the City of Antwerp, as well as the National Lottery, and targeted fundraising, the impressive project was realized inside a year. With its new sound system and acoustic adjustments, De Roma has confirmed its place at the top of Belgium's venues, in the heart of Borgerhout, where beauty awaits both the eyes and ears.

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