Amadeus has announced the install of over 172 of their speakers along with the company’s HOLOPHONIX immersive audio processor at the newly opened, and completely remodelled 560-seat theatre, La Scala Paris.
Amadeus was deeply involved throughout the renovation process helping to design the sound reinforcement system that would allow the theatre’s productions a boundless array of audio control and choices, all with the very highest audiophile-level sound quality. The 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.
The result is a sound system with modularity that enables an almost limitless number of configurations and possibilities for all types of performers and theatrical presentations.
La Scala Paris is an art theatre house, presenting all types of creative trends with the highest degree of invention. The theatre has re-created itself with a complete renovation and remodel, which started in the spring of 2016 and opened two years later in 2018. During the renovation and design, the theatre had a constructive dialogue with many of today’s top artists in every discipline to help create a platform for their creative productions. Many of the artists came to visit the theatre’s location in Paris and helped model the performance space by expressing their wishes.
Inspired by the extraordinary story of the theatre’s location and its ambitious artistic direction, many of the artists who visited created a La Scala program–and became ‘La Scala Paris residents’; their creations will be shown throughout forthcoming seasons.
Theatre, dance, circus arts, music, and visual arts will be welcomed within the new walls of this place of memories, eagerly looking forward to shining for Paris’ audiences. Gaetan Byk, Marketing Manager at Amadeus stated, “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. The sound was an essential piece of the renovation, on the purely acoustic, mechanical, and electro-acoustical diffusion levels.”
The audio setup is built around HOLOPHONIX spatial sound processor, designed by Amadeus in collaboration with STMS Lab (Sciences et Technologies de la Musique et du Son), located in Paris, and 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 spatialization techniques in two or three dimensions. It allows users to select and combine these techniques (or algorithms) in real time.
The sound and acoustics-related choices made for La Scala by the 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,” stated Biessy. “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,” concluded Biessy.
Spread around in a hemisphere shape, enveloping the viewers and adapting to the geometrically shaped building – all 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 setup has been largely inspired in its philosophy by the system installed within IRCAM’s variable acoustics hall (called ‘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 the La Scala Theater. The speakers installed on the first catwalk are set at 6.5m height from ground, with the front panel slanted, while the coaxial transducer is aimed naturally at a 30 degree angle to get an optimal overlap in the listening area sweet-spot; On the second catwalk, the front panel of the speakers are tilted at 45 degrees.
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 frontal high power line array system is also part of the global system. It is made of 18 Amadeus ‘DIVA M²’ (pronounced M-Squared) speakers, a new model in the Amadeus product range. Several speaker configurations are used at La Scala: the main L/R is made of 2×9 DIVA M², the L/C/R is a 3×6 DIVA M² setup, and a multi-diffusion setup consists of a 6×3 DIVA M².
The HOLOPHONIX poly-algorithmic processor offers a quasi-unlimited number of buses (or ‘spatializers’), and each one 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 precisely 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 being presented at the theatre, 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. The 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 utilising 172 loudspeakers, ” said Thierry Coduys, Chief Technology Officer who was intimately involved in the creation of the HOLOPHONIX processor.
Renowned scenographer, painter, designer, and furniture creator Richard Peduzzi designed the whole 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 whole sound system is amplified and processed by DSP amplifiers developed by Powersoft. They handle all fundamental system parameters: EQ, time alignment between different sections, limiters, fine-tuning, and speaker thermal protection.
“Technologies linked to immersive and spatialized 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,” concluded Gaetan Byk.