Alcons in Esbjerg Performing Arts Centre

Wednesday, 6 October 2010
Alcons in Esbjerg Performing Arts CentreThe Performing Arts Centre in Esbjerg, a harbour city on the rugged west coast of Denmark
Denmark - The Performing Arts Centre (Musikhuset) in Esbjerg, a harbour city on the rugged west coast of Denmark, hosts many diverse cultural activities ranging from rock concerts to theatre, ballet and opera. Attracting 150.000 visitors a year, the centre has always been hampered by the fact that it lacked a medium sized venue for theatre. Esbjerg Musikhuset won the right to build a new modern theatre, capable of seating 500 guests, designed by architects Jan Utzon and his father J°rn Utzon, famous for his design of Sydney's Opera House.

"Choosing an appropriate PA system was more difficult than first envisioned", says Paul van Zijl, in-house sound technician. Together with facility manager Christian S°vad they took from Utzon's design philosophy, and placed people in the centre of that decision. "Many modern theatres today have big line array systems, flown high above the proscenium and this was just not an option for us," they continue. "These flown systems detract from the total theatre experience, not just aesthetically but it also places the sound source high above the audience.

"What we wanted was a sound system that could be built into the sides of the proscenium, hidden from view and covering the whole hall including a balcony."

Remembering a visit by a Dutch production crew that used Alcons instead of the in-house line array in the main hall, they contacted Alcons Danish distributor Ascon Trading. "We were impressed by the compactness of the V series these Dutchmen insisted on using, and the apparent ease in setting it up. Most of all they managed to cover the whole main hall, without having to fly the PA."

The technical specifications of the theatre were sent to Ascon Trading for analysis, and the Alcons Q-series which is a group of modular line-source array columns was judged to be most suitable for the task.

"We were a bit sceptical when Ascon Trading confidently recommended a system from our technical specifications, this was after all not the easiest installation - we wanted a permanent installed, non-flown and invisible PA system," says Paul van Zijl, adding that scepticism quickly turned to disbelief when the four QR36 pro-ribbon line-source columns, two BF302 double 15" subwoofers and four Alcons ALC amplified loudspeaker controllers arrived in Esbjerg.

"The tricky part was to give full sound coverage to the balcony, whilst not reflecting of the front wall of the balcony itself," says Mikael S°rensen, consultant for Ascon Trading. "We knew from the computer simulations that it should work, but actually hearing it was so convincing, to be able to cover the hole balcony with just two boxes was a big eye opener."

(Jim Evans)

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