Innovason mixes Szeged open air festival

One of the largest squares in Hungary, Dóm Square of Szeged, annually transforms its 12,000 square metres of open space into a 4000-seat auditorium to host the Szeged open air festival.

With a tradition stretching back over 75 years, the festival is Hungary’s largest open-air theatre and music event and the most visited summer cultural event of the region. The festival, with its backdrop of the Szeged cathedral, contains a programme of world premiers and internationally ranked stage shows and concerts, and every year the stakes are higher in the quest for high quality technology and sound.

This year, ES Audio’s Sandor Elek, who has been managing audio for the festival for the past 12 years via his rental company Votec, opted for a combination of his own loudspeaker system with Innovason digital mixing consoles and digital microphones from Neumann.

The festival opened this year on July 6th with a three-day run of Wildhorn’s Broadway musical of Jekyll & Hyde, which was controlled and mixed by an Innovason Eclipse GT digital console and an Innovason Sy80 for the radio mics.
Elek explained: “My goal is to improve the sound year on year. We already made a big difference last year in working with internationally renowned classical engineers such as Carsten K?mmel and Thomas Mundorf whose approach to classical music and in particular their knowledge about the use of condenser microphones measurably improved the sound quality. I couldn’t find anything on the market that fulfilled my requirements for transparency and flexibility for classical music applications, so I built my own!”

Following a number of conversations at ProLight + Sound and an introduction to Pandora, the new panning algorithm on the Eclipse GT console, Elek decided to take things to the next level and deploy an Eclipse GT for the festival. He got in touch with the local Innovason partner, Microsound in Budapest to supply the Eclipse GT, as well as an Sy80 for Jekyll & Hyde.

Elek continued: “The Pandora is amazing. I didn’t think it was possible to make such a difference to the definition of stereo image for the audience just by turning a pan pot, but PANDORA makes it possible. You can hear a true stereo image that goes from full let to full right and back without any loss of signal for those sat at the extremes. It’s incredible.”

Given the Eclipse’s capacity to control all the parameters of Neumann digital microphones from the control surface, Sandor decided to try them out and improve sound quality further by dramatically reducing any noise coming from analog circuitry and cabling. He therefore arranged for a 40-channel set of digital microphones and four Neumann DMI stageboxes to be run by the Eclipse GT at FOH in the capable hands of tonmeister Carsten K?mmel.

The Sy80 was installed to handle the feeds from the radio microphones of the singers and the choir. This mix was thensent to the Eclipse GT where it was mixed with the orchestra to provide the main mix which was then diffused by the ES Audio PA system.

K?mmel said: “It was a real pleasure to mix this event with the technical set-up we had here. What more can you wish for with classical music than a wide open, transparent image that highlights the natural colorations and blending of the different instruments. The MARS system also proved its worth as I used it constantly to fine-tune the system using the tracks I had recorded during rehearsals.”

Elek was equally pleased with the results and said: “I was impressed by the quality of the orchestra sound. Carsten’s mix worked really well throughout the 4000-seat auditorium, no matter where you were placed. You could hear everything from everywhere. It’s going to be a real challenge to improve on this next year!”

Innovason used the opportunity to show this set up to interested clients and business partners. On Friday over 30 guests from all over Hungary enjoyed a half day of seminars and presentations in the nearby REOK palace. The second part of the day took place at the Dom Ter hands-on training session and demonstration of the full system using the original tracks taken from the rehearsals recorded by the Eclipse’s onboard MARS multi-track recording system.

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