Fine finish for d&b and the Frankfurt Opera

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Put the words Germany and opera into one sentence and most minds will drift inevitably to Bayreuth and the magnificent grandeur of Wagner. Yet Germany’s contribution to European opera suffuses the nation.

The Oper Frankfurt is a case in point having been voted Opera House of the Year by the August Opernwelt magazine no less than three times since 1995. To receive such accolades from a committee of fifty leading critics is not to be sniffed at, so when it came for a new sound reinforcement system in the main auditorium, time, care and painstaking accuracy were of the essence, as head of the Live Sound and CD production team Peter Tobiasch was keen to emphasise.

“Two centimetres more of dimensions would have stopped the project, and this was the only mid sized line array system with the required quality level which could fit at all” he began. “When we came to bring in a new d&b audiotechnik PA system behind the panels that flank the proscenium, the view from the audience had to remain totally unaltered. ”Legacy architectural features are no stranger to twenty first century integrators, but Nies electronic GmbH encountered several challenges to tax their experience. “The concrete technical planning we did ourselves,” explained Peter Tobiasch, “but under the rules of German law we have to buy the loudspeaker system via a dealer, and to make that choice we had to ask seven companies about their prices and conditions. Nies organized the dates, the timing of tests, the calculation of costs for several system versions, and finally a real good price for the ordered system.” That Nies won is a matter of commitment and long term relationships, “Two factors made this work,” Peter Tobiasch confirmed, “the long and steadfast involvement of d&b audiotechnik, especially Ralf Zuleeg and Werner ‘Vier’ Bayer from their Application Support and Product Management departments, and the super professionalism of Herr Richter at Nies.”

The installed system is simple enough, d&b T10 loudspeakers behind the panels, with T-SUB and B4-SUB arrays below, “To make the angles possible that were planned and expected, regarding the house and the real proscenium, and to achieve optimal coverage for the audience area at all levels and balconies, the standard T-Series mounting required careful modification to fit and still adhere to engineering regulations.” Peter Tobiasch was unequivocal about the results achieved by d&b and the precision of the installation solution, “No hearable interference and phasing, no frequency peaks and dips. It is for me the most important quality aspect that the d&b loudspeakers do not make sound on their own; you just hear voices and instruments. That means music or speech and not loudspeakers. The old system was not so bad, but the T10, T-SUB, B4-SUB system, and the new Q7s for nearfills and effects are just in another league; another philosophy of sound, constructed in another century: clear, natural, and easy to drive with best results.”

For Peter Tobiasch this is a task he has been engaged with for over ten years, a voice of God system above the auditorium features Ci60 and Ci-SUBs; and he began with a small left/centre/right system of Ci90s above the proscenium in 2001. “Of course the opera singers and the main orchestra are not amplified. But we use the B4-SUBs (time corrected) also in combination with loudspeakers on stage for such effects as theatre thunder or to augment big cathedral organ pieces, when the audience shall be touched by the sound that actually or virtually comes out of the stage. The entire installed system we use for contemporary requirements, special concerts, and events; even for a busy Opera House like this there are many such concerts. I have worked with d&b equipment for twenty three years on tour as well as here in our theatre; I had high expectations of sound quality: what we got is just totally another league of sound.”

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