The Ts in Spain leave the music in the Qs: Teatre Nacional de Catalunya

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The Catalans have always extolled the benefits of arts and culture. Who can forget the sense of theatre Barcelona brought to the Olympic opening ceremony in 1992? Like no other opening it inserted a capital T for theatre into 'specTacular'. Drama is in the Catalan bones. Their willingness to embrace all forms of art, and present them in challenging collisions of sense over sensibility, has seen the Teatre Nacional de Catalunya (TNC) seek out a new modus of total flexibility. The latest addition to their sound system is but a small part of that, yet a crucial one in their eyes, as head of sound Xavier Rodriguez explained.

"I knew d&b from as far back as the 90's when I was touring in central Europe with a dance company", he began. "TNC purchased a d&b audiotechnik Q-Series sound system two years ago. The Q is a fantastic box; I had seen it adopted in theatres all over Europe and the more I learned about it as I used it, the more I understood why. But even the Q-Series has its limitations. The 'Sala Gran' of TNC, as the name explains, is the biggest of our three venues; a medium/large conventional proscenium arch theatre with a capacity of nine hundred. The room is relatively dry at just a 1.5 second reverb. It has great sightlines, an acoustic that works well for music, especially piano recital or musical theatre, but voices do need a lift, especially with some actors who spend long periods in TV work and don't have the discipline or practice to project their voice as strongly as they did in the past. The Q-Series gave us the ability to raise the voice in terms of level, but did not have wide enough dispersion for use as a centre cluster, which is what we needed for better imaging." Rodriguez and his team had discussed this problem with David Rosello, head of d&b's Spanish office. "I had just been waiting for the new T-Series to arrive," explained Rosello. "I knew immediately it would work in this application, and be useful in other ways. Xavier read the specification and wanted to try it out there and then."

Following a brief trial with the T-Series through local install company Koala Projects, Rodriguez' expectations were confirmed. He is now embarked on a period of experimentation as he attempts to find a core configuration that addresses the varying needs of presentations. "We have just re-opened after the summer break," he said. "The trial back in June was to determine whether the new T-Series would suit our needs, principally as a centre cluster device. Left and right we have existing Q1 and Q-SUB line arrays; now on centre we are experimenting with the T10. For reasons of aesthetics and lighting projection we have to rig these T10s much higher than we'd like. We found that two T10s (105 degrees dispersion in point source configuration) helped us a lot working as a central front fill across the whole audience. We also placed two T10s (90 degrees dispersion) one per side to 1.5m of height installed as near fills, which were brilliant to pull the image down. That puts speech with clarity into the auditorium; leaving the music in the Qs. Fortunately the T-Series boxes are so small relative to their performance, that they are virtually invisible, even in such a prominent position as front fill.

The TNC sound team, assisted directly by David Rosello and Juanma de Casas from d&b's Spanish office, are continuing to experiment. "We already won the battle for speech intelligibility, which has always been the main goal for a theatre venue. The imaging is just a matter of finesse, another week and we will have it."

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