Chorus of approval for CODA

CODA Audio ViRAY and N-RAY deliver the detail for Les Choristes 2000 at Galaxie Amnéville arena. Photo: La X Photographie

The Galaxie is an indoor arena located in the commune of Amnéville in northeast France. Opened in 1990 and designed in the same vein as the Zénith de Paris, the venue’s seating can accommodate more than 12,000. As well has hosting concerts by international music superstars, Galaxie also stages a variety of spectacular showcases, one of which took place over three nights in May this year. Les Choristes 2000 is a truly ambitious production presented by conductor Jacky Locks which features a live band, orchestra and solo vocalists supported by a massed choir of two thousand voices.

The event, which has taken place on various scales across more than two decades, this year celebrated the music of treasured French composer Jean-Jaques Goldman. Bringing together the talents of both professional and amateur musicians, Les Choristes 2000 is a triumph of shared passion, uplifting performance, and technical achievement. For this very demanding brief, the show chose to deploy a CODA Audio system, the elements of which were supplied by production specialists Lagoona and Dushow.

The task of dealing with the front of house sound was the responsibility of experienced engineer Philippe Barguirdjian. Barguirdjian, who has worked on many huge productions throughout the world, has been at the audio helm of biennial renewals across twenty years, working closely with Jacky Locks to ensure that the audience hears every detail of the performance – no mean feat given the sheer numbers and breadth of the performance spectrum. A compact system combining CODA Audio ViRAY and N-RAY line array loudspeakers was designed for the show where intelligibility was the absolutely paramount requirement.

Barguirdjian talked about the choice of CODA and the demands on the system: “The system is plug and play. It’s really a ‘no EQ’ system except for a low cut. The main challenge here is intelligibility. In the tutti sections, the choir acts as the main singer but each voice section has different lyrics that should all be perfectly heard in the audience. To achieve this the PA should deliver high quality on all of the audio spectrum, with precise, beautiful mids and highs, with no distortion. I’ve had the chance to work with all the top class pro audio systems in the world, and to me ViRAY and N-RAY are the best!”

He continued, reflecting on the performance: “When I unmuted the system and the first song was played, the crew just went ‘Wow!’. You can imagine that with more than a hundred mics on the choir, feedback could be quite an issue, but we were able to drive a very high level with amazing clarity and intelligibility and no aggressivity. On my main desk, with all the choirs and classical instruments, there’s no EQ at all – only local – it’s just amazing – no phase problems, nothing. It’s just so very natural.”

The show included more than 150 sound sources, with a total of 120 microphones on the choir alone. The CODA system’s exceptional gain-before-feedback rating ensured that the mid and high frequencies so essential to choral music remained sharply in focus, whether the lead was taken by one of the vocal soloists or a 200-person section of the choir. With the ViRAY and N-RAY elements complemented by CODA’s SC2-F Sensor Controlled subwoofers, the low end provided a controlled and stable platform which allowed the rhythm section to remain crisp and clear.

Engineer Cyril Borri, who also worked on the show, commented: “With this system, you have really great control of the lows and great restitution of the highs – it’s really natural. Of course it’s not just a musical show, it’s a visual show as well, so another thing that’s really great with this system is its compact nature. It does not interrupt the view for the audience.”

The system, which delivered a uniform listening experience to each of the 4,500 available seats, comprised 24 ViRAY units in the centre and 38 N-RAY divided between centre and outfill duties, with 12 SC2-F subs completing the front of house picture. 18 HOPS5 (high output point source) and 10 CUE TWO floor wedges delivered stage monitoring to the army of performers.

Jacky Locks was impressed with the CODA system:“I was very surprised! It’s a big step forward compared to two years ago when we last did the concert, and I noticed it in different ways. There is much more ‘humanity’ in the sound, it seems less aggressive in such a big hall – almost acoustic but also much more powerful!”

The three shows proved to be a huge success. The CODA system’s linear phase response and DDP driver technology made light of what was a potentially huge challenge, and Barguirdjian went so far as to say that he doubted the show would have been possible in the way it was, without CODA’s next generation technology. The chemistry between the sound engineer and conductor Locks was evident throughout the show as they conspired to deliver every nuance of Jean-Jaques Goldman’s music, while retaining absolute control over more than two thousand performers.

David Webster, Global Director of Sales and Marketing for CODA Audio admired the achievements of Les Choristes 2000: “I can only describe this as a truly sensational show. With so many elements to the production, everything had to be absolutely spot on, and it certainly was. It was a privilege to witness Philippe in action – he’s handled some huge shows working with Jean Michel Jarre and this must have been right up there in terms of overcoming challenges. Having more than a hundred microphones on the choir was always going to provide a thorough examination of resistance to feedback, the system passed with flying colours. We’re very proud to have been involved with our rental partners on such an extraordinary show.”