Founded in 1952, the Maxim Gorki Theater (MGT) is Berlin’s smallest with 440 seats, and regards itself as a ‘contemporary city theatre in a historic setting’. In autumn 2019, it installed a new audio infrastructure based around a Lawo mc²96 production console at FOH in the main hall, and an mc²56 for backup and remote preparation of new projects. The mc²56 is also used as a recording console for the venue’s in-house recording studio.

Maxim Gorki TheaterA Nova73 compact serves as the set-up’s central router with five Dallis units available as stageboxes, two of which can be used mobile in combination with the mc²56, or on stage. Further Dallis units are located where most of the inputs and outputs are needed, in the orchestra pit and in the basement (Amp City). The local inputs and outputs at the rear of the two consoles are also used both in the FOH area and in the recording studio. Unusually, the theatre’s recording studio and a small studio stage are located in the neighbouring building complex.

Sound and video department head Christopher von Nathusius and his team were responsible for the modernisation, with planning support from Gunter Lühder of Avissplan. Elektroakustik Neuenhagen carried out the project work.

For von Nathusius, reliability was the most important consideration when choosing the new system – and, in this respect, mixing consoles which run reliably in 24/7 radio operation for years have a competitive advantage. The system installed in the Gorki is also highly redundant – covering the power supply, the availability of at least two units per card type, and comprehensive console compatibility.

‘A decisive advantage of the Lawo system for us is that, in the event of a failure of the FOH console in the hall, the backup console can take over relatively quickly,’ von Nathusius says. The system’s high-end technology provides for a best-before date of well over a decade, so that it can play up front until the next call for tenders. Maximum flexibility means that the wishes of the artistic director and the directors, as well as future requirement profiles for theatre technology, can be met in the long-term.

In addition to these considerations, the decision to go with Lawo was based primarily on the extensive user customisation options – single button push will change the entire rights management between the mc²96, router and mc²56 as required. In this way, the FOH console (mc²96) can, for example, enable the studio console (mc²56) to control the trim levels of the microphone inputs used in the hall.

Other advantages include free assignment of the user buttons for quick access to the most important functions, the control of the Next Scene function via Midi, the Sends to Fader function, fast channel bundling, and easy tracking of complex routings in a modular design. Despite this high level of complexity, the system’s intelligent function menus allow parameters to be called up with a minimum of operating steps. This promotes an intuitive understanding of the functional principle and console structure.

The ability to port projects from the mc²96 to the mc²56 makes it possible to prepare or post-process productions with limited rehearsal time and no stage time. ‘Without this feature, we would not have been able to resume our complete repertoire – currently more than 30 pieces on the Gorki stage – in such a short time without disrupting the performances and rehearsals.

The sound engineers of the Maxim Gorki Theater are equally impressed: ‘Four fully parametric EQs on the Lawo are able to do what used to require six EQs,’ says sound engineer Yavuz Akbulut.

‘The quick access to all parameters via the console interface is remarkable,’ adds fellow sound engineer, Hannes Ziegler. ‘A complete user interface can be built in no time at all with just a few keystrokes. I was also immediately impressed by the forward/reverse routing function.’

More: www.lawo.com

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