Among Finland’s oldest performing arts centres, the Wasa Teater on the country’s west coast marked its recent centenary with an extensive makeover, updating everything from floors, walls and ceilings to the auditorium and air conditioning. The overhaul included new lighting systems and sound updates to its loudspeakers, amplifiers, mixing desks and microphones.

WasaThe theatre team chose L-Acoustics Finnish Certified Provider Distributor Audico as the contractor, responsible for design, installation, commissioning, programming and training, including the installation of L-Acoustics’ L-ISA immersive sound technology.

The starting point for the project, as specified by Technical Director for the theatre, Mats Antell, was to get the best possible sound system for the house and to ensure that its needs were met for the coming years: ‘Immersive sound is the hottest topic in the industry right now and L-ISA is the best immersive technology on the market,’ says Audico Sales Manager, Pauli Molnár. ’It delivers speech, song and music in a way that stands out much more clearly than the average theatre audio system ever could. We knew it would give the theatre the stunning results it wanted. We suggested it to them, and Mats Antell together with Dennis Lindén, Sound Designer at the theatre, were convinced and pushed really hard to make this happen.’

Installation began in the spring of 2019 and the renovation was scheduled to be completed before midsummer, in time for the premiere of Spelman på taket (Fiddler on the Roof).

When the Audico team arrived on site for the first time, the demolition phase of the project had just finished and the stage was virtually a black hole. To use the limited time available at the theatre efficiently, Audico System Specialist Pekka Patrikainen designed the L-ISA configuration off-site at the company’s office in Espoo. The equipment was then moved to the theatre, with the final set up comprising a frontal system of five hangs of four Kiva II evenly spaced across the front of the proscenium, plus front fill of six X4i, positioned across the stage lip. Two SB18i subs, one behind the other, are hung centrally and forward of the main hangs, with an extension system of two Syva, one left and one right. Out fills are X8, one each hung stage left and right, with eight overhead X8, four each hung from overhead service bridges in the ceiling of the auditorium. Four X8 are positioned at the rear of the auditorium for delay, with a further eight X8 for side surrounds.

‘L-ISA means that the conflict that sometimes arises with a conventional theatrical sound system, where you hear the sound from one area, but the action is taking place in a different area, is no longer there,’ says Molnár. ‘With L-ISA, the theatre is able to create a credible spatial impression and influence the features of the space, by moving the sound in front, behind and even above the audience, for example.’

Lindén is excited about L-ISA. With all its versatility, he finds it very easy to use and says that the intuitive nature of the L-ISA controller has even speeded up his workflow.

‘It’s a completely different tool to previous sound systems we’ve had,’ he says. ‘It’s given me new drive, because it makes my long-running ideas possible and, simply by its existence, creates new ones! It’s great that we were able to invest in such a sound system now and not after ten or 20 years when the next renovation takes place.’

‘We had been living in the middle of a renovation for a long time, so it’s fantastic to finally be able to enjoy the fruits of our labour,’ concludes Antell. ‘The dialogue with Audico was excellent throughout. All in all, Pauli and his team have been a great partner in this unique and challenging installation. We are delighted that Wasa Teater is the first theatre in Northern Europe to benefit from L-ISA, and that this multidimensional listening experience hugely exceeds our expectations.’

More: www.l-acoustics.com

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