Soundscape helps the Comédie de Genève tap into new creative possibilities.

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After more than a century in the Plainpalais neighborhood, the Comédie de Genève has moved to a modern, 116-meter complex whose main performance hall, La Grande Salle, has been acoustically optimized for the venue’s renowned spoken word program. The theater is already known for local and international productions, and with a newly installed Soundscape-ready 360-degree speaker setup installed by ACRpro SA, the in-house audio team can now implement new creative possibilities such as object-based mixing and immersive sound design. 

Charles Mugel is one of the three sound engineers at the Comédie de Genève, but the only one who previously worked at the theater in Plainpalais. “The new building houses two theaters, which means that the number of performances has doubled,” Mugel notes. “In addition, the acoustics in the new building are completely different from those in Plainpalais. In the main theater, the acoustics are like a blank sheet of paper that can be written on with sound as one pleases; I’m very happy about that, because such an interpretation gives me a great deal of freedom in terms of sound design.”

Although Mugel had no prior experience with Soundscape, he was familiar with the technology thanks to demo presentations and an extensive listening session in the Soundscape demo room at Swiss d&b distributor 2M Audio.

In the past, I would always try to expand my sound design options in the theater using various measures, which the Soundscape system now conveniently makes available to me out of the box.Charles Mugel, sound engineer, Comédie de Genève

“Over time, as a sound engineer in a theater environment, you pick up various tricks of the trade, and I personally have always enjoyed frequently experimenting with different loudspeaker positions,” Mugel continues.

To me, Soundscape is sort of like a dream come true – a practical solution that meets all my needs and that I’ve long been waiting for. When you work with Soundscape, you eventually get to a point where the technical implementation takes a backseat, and you can focus solely on the artistic aspects.Charles Mugel

According to Mugel, the system offers numerous creative and technical advantages. “I want every member of the audience to enjoy excellent sound with the best possible localization of the actors on stage, irrespective of where their individual seat is located; in this respect, Soundscape is a real revolution! The audience no longer hears microphones and loudspeakers, but perceives an absolutely natural sound that directly corresponds to what they see – there’s complete transparency, and I no longer have to resort to extensive adjustments of the equalizer’s individual channels.

In addition, we now have the ability to draw the listener into the sound event through immersive sound, which was previously only possible with complex loudspeaker setups and complicated signal interconnections as well as various reverb enhancements.Charles Mugel

“The system is incredibly flexible,” confirms Mugel’s coworker Benjamin Vicq, highlighting Soundscape’s scalability and creative freedom. “Personally, I like the fact that you can use the DS100 as a conventional matrix as well as with the En-Scene object positioning tool. It’s easy to expand the existing loudspeaker setup in the space if needed, such as if a guest production requests special effects speakers.”

Benoit Saillet, another sound engineer, also emphasizes the advantages of En-Scene and the ability to localize the protagonists on stage. “The Soundscape developers are obviously aware of users’ needs,” says Saillet, recalling an event where twelve participants sat on stage during a panel discussion. “We assigned an object to each speaker, which worked exceptionally well. Also, during a concert with acoustic instruments where we used thirty-five open microphones, the sound system was able to reproduce the layout of the sound sources on stage perfectly.” 

However, becoming familiar with Soundscape and its capabilities required somewhat of an adjustment, as Vicq points out. “Soundscape, in my opinion, requires a bit of a shift in thinking at first, but then fortunately leads to a point where you completely forget about the presence of speakers.”

The way that you listen first has to adjust to the new possibilities. My personal aha moment during a concert rehearsal was that I only really noticed how much the loudspeakers contributed to the altogether excellent sound until after I pressed the mute switches.Benjamin Vicq, sound engineer, Comédie de Genève

Thanks to the new building and Soundscape, the Comédie de Genève is now able to meet virtually every need of theater professionals, whether they are in-house or visiting.

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