Soundscape comes of age at the Ravenna Festival
Gaining its official public launch at this year's Integrated Systems Europe exhibition in Amsterdam at the beginning of February, d&b audiotechnik’s immersive live audio technology Soundscape has in fact been nurtured by a selection of key d&b users for some time. A natural phase of any major release, such ‘beta’ testing depends upon trusted and expert real world partners.
Italian rental company BH Audio is one such partner. Founded in 1979, the company has garnered an enviable reputation for the highest quality sound reinforcement, as well as recording services - much appreciated by customers among the classical, contemporary and jazz communities. The prestigious Ravenna Festival of symphony, opera and ballet is a typically demanding brief, and has been a valued patron since it debuted in 1990.
For the past three years BH Audio has used this platform for critical trials of what has become the first Soundscape technologies. “It’s not necessary to add a great many more boxes,” reveals BH Audio’s MD Massimo Carli. “But while the difference in the number of speakers is very small, the important increase is in the number of amplification channels, which means different wiring and the use of the DS100 processor.”
Developed for the Soundscape platform, the DS100 Signal engine is housed near the stage and connected via AES67. A Lawo MC236 console is Carli’s choice at FoH, with a Lawo Compac I/O stage box.
“The use of AES67 makes the setup very clean compared to the past,” Carli says. From the mixer I can send 44 direct outs and 20 post-fader auxes to the DS100 via one of its three Ravenna ports. Plus, I can send the DS100 outputs to the AES-EBU outputs of the Lawo stagebox directly to various loudspeakers.”
Last year, four T10 passive 2-way loudspeakers and four E8 2-way multipurpose loudspeakers with integrated coaxial drivers were all that was needed to transform the configuration of previous years into a Soundscape system, while the main front four Y10s were simply redeployed from two-up, two-down left and right into a single four-hang line array.
“As far as vocal amplification was concerned, in addition to radio microphones with capsules camouflaged somewhere on the singers’ heads, we also used a tracking system,” adds Carli. “The system used on this occasion was StageTracker by TTA; through the network, it dynamically transmits the correct position of the various singers to the DS100.”
Carli and BH Audio will be using Soundscape throughout the Ravenna Festival this month and throughout July, including every performance at the Pala de André. No doubt Soundscape has become indispensable at BH Audio and, when and wherever it does provide the most apt solution, the way that conventional PA speakers are used will change forever.
“It will not be suitable for every type of work,” Carli reflects. “However, I’m sure that with time and the changing of listening habits it will be easier to get beyond the obstacles. Ultimately, it will transform live sound in my opinion. Once you’ve used it, it’s very difficult to go back.”