La ScalaRecentlyremodelled, the famed La Scala Paris theatre now houses an audio system based on more than 170 Amadeus loudspeakers, Powersoft Audio amplification and control, and Amadeus Holophonix immersive audio processing.

The modularity of the new system supports an almost limitless number of configurations, and offer extensive possibilities for all types of performance and theatrical productions.

Amadeus was involved throughout the renovation of the 560-seat theatre, assisting the design of a sound reinforcement system that would provide extensive audio control and options for the theatre’s productions. The resultant electro-acoustic sound reinforcement system was designed specifically for La Scala Paris by Amadeus in collaboration with composer Philippe Manoury, and scenographers Patrice Buniazet and Richard Peduzzi

La Scala Paris is an art theatre house, presenting all types of creative trends with the highest degree of innovation. In its current guise, the theatre has re-created itself with a complete renovation and remodel, which began in the early 2016. During the intervening period it had a constructive dialogue with many of today’s top artists in every discipline to help create a platform for their productions. Many of the artists came to the theatre to assist modelling the performance space. Inspired by the the theatre’s history, location and artistic direction, many of the artists became ‘La Scala Paris residents’, whose work will be shown n forthcoming seasons.

La Scala Paris‘La Scala Paris has been thought of as a fundamentally different type of theatre, because of its programming, its artistic expression, its technical scenography, and the associated technologies that bring productions to life,’ says Amadeus Marketing Manager, Gaetan Byk. ‘The sound was an essential piece of the renovation, on the purely acoustic, mechanical, and electro-acoustical diffusion levels.’

The audio set-up is built around Holophonix spatial sound processor, designed by Amadeus in collaboration with STMS Lab (Sciences et Technologies de la Musique et du Son) supported by CNRS (National Center for Scientific Research), Sorbonne University, French Ministry of Culture, and IRCAM (Institut de Recherche et de Coordination Acoustique/Musique).

The Holophonix processor creates an extremely advanced platform, which is able to mix, reverberate and spatialise sound content played from various devices using several different spatialisation techniques in two or three dimensions. It allows users to select and combine these techniques (algorithms) in real time.

The sound and acoustics-related choices made for La Scala by owners Mélanie and Frédéric Biessy were decided upon after they met with artists like Philippe Manoury, Philippe Hersant and Philippe Schoeller.

‘We wanted to build a system that would be able to adapt to any live show and any concert – even the most acoustically and sonically challenging,’ Biessy says. ‘Our meetings and exchanges with IRCAM were also a key factor in transforming La Scala into a facility with unique acoustical specifications. The hall’s acoustics and sound reinforcement system are at the core of our project, and it makes La Scala even more than a concert hall.

‘To bet on the success of a multidisciplinary performance space implies that, in every domain, the tools are the most demanding and the most adapted to the quality and the demands by the artists invited to perform there. All the artists who have performed at La Scala in the past four months have confirmed that their needs were met.’

Spread around in a hemisphere shape, enveloping the viewers and adapting to the geometrically shaped building – while controlling the technical and aesthetical constraints in the Grande Salle, the new sound reinforcement system at La Scala Paris uses 172 speakers designed and built by Amadeus at their Paris headquarters. The audio set-up has been largely inspired in its philosophy by the system installed in IRCAM’s variable acoustics hall (Espace de Projection) for research on high-end sound field recreation systems, including Wave Field Synthesis 2D and Ambisonics 3D sound. This IRCAM space features nearly 339 speakers designed and manufactured by Amadeus from 2008 to 2012.

Some speakers – especially those fixed on the two upper catwalks – were designed specifically by Amadeus for La Scala. The speakers installed on the first catwalk are set 6.5m from ground, with the front panel slanted, while the coaxial transducer is aimed at a 30° angle for optimal overlap in the listening sweet-spot. On the second catwalk, the front panel of the speakers are tilted at 45°. Three speaker ‘antenna’ systems are fixed under every balcony as delayed systems. Each ‘antenna system’ is made of 12 Amadeus PMX 4 coaxial speakers, evenly distributed over the whole width, with an inter-source distance of 1.25m. A front high-power line array is also part of the global system, comprising 18 Amadeus Diva M² speakers, a new model in the Amadeus product range. The main LR system uses two clusters of Diva M² elements, the LCR uses three six-element clusters, and a multi-diffusion set-up uses six three-element clusters.

La Scala ParisThe Holophonix poly-algorithmic processor offers a quasi-unlimited number of buses, each of which can run an embedded spatialisation algorithm, including Higher-Order Ambisonics (2D, 3D) Vector-Base Intensity Panning (2D, 3D), Vector-Base Amplitude Panning (2D, 3D), Wave Field Synthesis, Angular 2D, k-Nearest Neighbor, Stereo Panning, Stereo AB, Stereo XY, Native A-Format Ambisonics, Native-B Format Ambisonics, and Binaural.

In the Grande Salle, three Wave Field Synthesis (WFS) spatialisers are used to drive each delayed speaker ‘antenna system’ under the balcony, according to differentiated spatial positions. A Higher-Order Ambisonics 3D bus drives the speakers installed as a ring around the audience, on the first and second level catwalks, and on the ceiling. A Vector-Base Amplitude Panning (2D) bus drives the loudspeakers placed at the balcony level, behind the audience.

Depending on the project, speakers can be discretely added: they are managed by an Angular 2D or k-Nearest Neighbor spatialiser, or directly routed to a physical source through the Holophonix processor system.

‘It was a fascinating and thrilling challenge to imagine a unique sound system, tailored to La Scala Paris – a true technological gem,’ says Thierry Coduys, Chief Technology Officer who was intimately involved in the creation of the Holophonix processor. ‘Scala Paris is the first theatre in France to combine a variable acoustics system, built with modular two-sided panels (absorber/diffusor), and an extremely sophisticated immersive sound system using 172 loudspeakers.’

Scenographer, painter, designer, and furniture creator Richard Peduzzi designed the interior architecture, from the ‘Scala Blue’ (created by Argile) to the Grande Salle furniture, lighting, boxes, stairs, rails, railings, and passageways. Peduzzi, along with Amadeus and Argile, worked together to manufacture all the installed speakers (except for the mobile items) in a special ‘Bleu Scala’ finish; a subtle blend of resins and blue-grey pigments, which makes the speakers appear both dark and bright at the same time.

The sound system is amplified and processed by DSP amplifiers developed by Powersoft, and handles all fundamental system parameters – EQ, time alignment between different sections, limiters, fine-tuning, and speaker thermal protection.

‘Technologies linked to immersive and spatialised sound are now coming out of laboratories to enter entertainment venues. They embody a new audio revolution, as an integral component of avant-garde visions in many French institutions such as La Scala Paris, le Théâtre National de Chaillot, le Théâtre du Vieux-Colombier, Les Champs Libres, and others. All these performance spaces were among the first to believe and invest in these immersive audio technologies,’ Byk concludes.

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