Plenty of premieres at the 2015 Salzburg Festival

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At the Salzburg Festival, on the banks of Austria’s River Salzach, the Threepenny Opera made its modern day debut as Mack the Knife, a production arranged by the Grammy and Tony Award winning music director, Martin Lowe. Impressed by the compact and lightweight design of the d&b Y-Series, the festival organizers made a special investment in a line array system for use on the show, as well as future productions. They then added the sonic enhancements made possible by ArrayProcessing, the optimization tools for d&b line arrays.

Sound designer Bobby Aitken selected a left/centre/right arrangement, with the outer line arrays comprising seven Y8s, with eight for the centre, plus the wider dispersion Y12s loudspeakers mounted at the bottom of each. The subwoofers were also flown - three Y-SUBs each as part of the left and right arrays.

The Felsenreitschule Theatre is just one of the festival’s performance venues. As well as its striking stage design the theatre has ninety six arcades carved into its natural rock face. Arranged in three tiers, they provide an ideal projection area and backdrop for the show, albeit something of a challenge for sound reinforcement.

To overcome the difficulties laid down by the intricate architecture, the festival team, with support from d&b, took completely new acoustic measurements of the theatre using the d&b ArrayCalc simulation software. Having opted to deploy the software’s ArrayProcessing tool, the sound team agreed the tonal balance was considerably improved in all areas of the audience, especially in the upper decks.

On the whole, with ArrayProcessing switched on the sound was significantly more even, down to the very last seat in the house. Previously, in the upper deck seating area, prominent high frequencies, which had proved noticeable and distracting for some members of the audience, were now completely eliminated. And sound reverberations off the rock face, which more attuned listeners were aware of - especially in the low midrange section - were drastically reduced thanks to the finely tuned settings.

“With ArrayProcessing, now more than ever we have the means to balance out specific sound irregularities,” confirmed Dr. Edwin Pfanzagl-Cardone, Head of Sound Engineering and Acoustics at the Salzburg Festival, who has run the department of the multi-repertory company since 2001, and is a long term d&b user. “We’ve often rented line arrays for this venue in the past to meet the needs of the production teams - this will no longer be necessary now.” With typically long rehearsal times for shows, throughout which the sound reinforcement system has to be up and running, the Felsenreitschule theatre will definitely be used more often in the future. “It’s highly likely we’ll stage another production at here in the summer of 2016”.

Photographs courtesy of Salzburger Festspiele, Ruth Walz and d&b audiotechnik

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