Chicago play L'Auditori de Barcelona
Spain - Originally designed for classical music, L'Auditori de Barcelona has in recent years turned to a more inclusive programme, welcoming even international pop stars to its stage. It's a familiar response to the vox pops clarion call, yet as home to the Orquestra Simfònica de Barcelona i Nacional de Catalunya, this is no lightly considered indulgence.

L'Auditori is, by Catalans, considered a national institution. Not without a clear sense of purpose did L'Auditori become the first concert venue in Spain to join the European Concert Hall Organisation (ECHO) in 2007, a matter of some pride for a venue only open since 1999.

With such a focussed mind-set the Technical Directorate identified a key weakness for the expanded programme. "We already had a point source solution, and some delays due to the long size of the auditorium," said head of sound Toni Vila. "Yet for international artists this system was far away from actual rider expectations and could not provide the proximity effect audiences expect in such type of shows."

Thorough is as thorough does, L'Auditori set aside three full days for tests, and invited demonstrations from the three brands that appeared most regularly on audio riders. "The tests were exhaustive," explained Enric Esteve from Imaginamusica (d&b local sales partner). "We were asked to demonstrate a system using sung vocals with handheld and lavalier mics, a woodwind section, and playback material from contemporary artists.

"The room is long and lively, so as a partner company we consulted with d&b audiotechnik Spain, Juanma de Casas providing his always excellent technical support. Juanma determined a left/right V-Series system with the V-SUBs flown being the main V8 / V12 arrays and T10s in point source mode for front-fills, all configured to provide the most contained directivity control. His priority was keeping energy off the walls, yet with the level of presence, power and musicality demanded of contemporary popular artists."

Esteve and de Casas also added a discrete pair of out-fill V12's rigged upstage behind the TOPs and SUBs. "There are some very lateral balconies relative to the stage, we could never cover these seats before," said Vila. "That and the well behaved cardioid performance of the flown SUBs has transformed the listening experience."

Mr Josep Andrada, technical director for L'Auditori listened to the decisions of his sound team and following the tests in July 2013, a one-off live show was undertaken with David Byrne and his band in September. "Both the demo' day, and that live show test with David Byrne were very tight schedules," said de Casas afterwards, "With a mix of line arrays and point source, aligning and correctly EQ'ing such a system can be time consuming, but the simple workflow of using ArrayCalc at the planning stage, and then being able to convert this quickly and easily to a full system setup in the D80 amplifiers via the d&b R1 Remote control software, meant that we could on both days, have the rig running and tuned almost immediately it was rigged."

"Imaginamusica made a permanent installation in July of 2014," concluded Vila. "The consistency of voice through to the far-field, and the fact we no-longer need any delays to reach there are a real benefit. They also arranged for myself and my colleague 'Tole' to attend a line array workshop at d&b in Backnang, Germany before commissioning. As such we were able to manage our first concert 'flying solo', with US legends Chicago who played shortly thereafter. We now present a new, exciting and unexpected program content, yet the traditions and virtues of L'Auditori remain absolute."

(Jim Evans)

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