Belgian opera house installs L-Acoustics line array system

After years of restoration work, the Théatre Royal de Liège in Belgium re-opened its doors to the public recently with an L-Acoustics system in place.

In 2008, Riva Audio was appointed by the main contractor, Putman, to carry out preliminary research, design and install the new audio system due to the team’s past experience of stage mechanics and technical installations of theatres and studios. XLR sprl, a distributor within the L-Acoustics Certified Provider Network for Belgium, also collaborated with Riva Audio on the installation.

“The big challenge was to persuade the city officials and opera management to place new audio gear in a classified 19th century building – they wanted the venue to be ‘sound reinforcementless’,” said Frédéric Vard, Riva Audio MD. “For example, it took us quite some negotiations with the governments’ Monuments and Landscape Department to obtain permission to place the speaker cabinets.”

The need for a modern, flexible and efficient audio system was underpinned by the theatre’s management plan to make multifunctional use of the building. Alongside performances from the Opéra Royal de Wallonie (ORW), which the venue is home to, the theatre will also host conferences, gatherings and concerts.

“When we received the go-ahead for the sound system, we had to take into account the new furnishing of the theatre,” Vard continued. “ In the end, we agreed to install an L-Acoustics line-array system on either side of the subtitling projection beam above the stage, before the stage curtains. The amplifiers are located close to the speakers and are remote controlled through a network. The line arrays, consisting of 20 KIVA cabinets – 2 x 6 in front of the curtain and 2 x 4 to serve the lower seats, plus eight SB18 and 14 8XTi as in fill – ensure complete coverage of the whole theatre.”

The installation of the line arrays and cables followed thorough research and design, with Riva Audio presenting a complete construction document indicating the placement of loudspeaker cabinets within the constraints of the historic building. “We, together with XLR’s project manager, Sébastien Desaever, presented three speaker configurations to the theatre management – L-Acoustics’ contracting and fixed installation department was instrumental in providing the necessary technical plans,” Vard added.

Vard made use of the stage level boxes in the theatre to install 2 x 4 KIVA, serving the lower seating of the 1,440-capacity theatre. The whole venue was cabled with CAT 6 fibre optics, replacing the ‘traditional’ microphone cables. “Installing Soundcraft stageboxes for the signal transfer from the stage to the Soundcraft Vi 4 console was a crucial measure – in an opera environment, noiseless connections are essential throughout the system,” concluded Vard.

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