Optocore at the hub of NAC overhaul
Wednesday, 17 July 2019
nac-theatre-004Canada’s National Arts Centre (NAC) has been serving the performing arts since 1969
Canada - Based in Ottawa, and designed in the brutalist architectural style, Canada’s National Arts Centre (NAC) has been serving the performing arts since 1969.
A bilingual, multi-disciplinary home for Canada’s most creative artists, the NAC strives to be artistically adventurous in each of its programming streams - the NAC Orchestra, Dance, English Theatre, French Theatre, Indigenous Theatre and NAC Presents. Offering a variety of free programming and events, The Centre collaborates with artists and arts organizations across the country, invests in ambitious new works and nurtures the next generation of audiences and artists from across Canada.
As part of a recent $110m overhaul, globally-renowned integrators, Engineering Harmonics, were hired to design a comprehensive audio/visual system that would service their needs for the next 15 years and beyond.
The project required upgrades to three of the performance spaces, replacing outdated equipment and infrastructure including some items from the original fit-out. These included Southam Hall, the Babs Asper Theatre and the Azrieli Studio and the upgrade included mixing consoles, speakers, amplifiers, DSP, intercom and a state-of-the-art digital fibre optic network provided by Optocore.
The NAC purchased a total of 54 Optocore units deployed across the three networks. Each venue was designed to have its own dedicated network, with a mix of permanently installed Optocore devices and mobile racks that could be moved freely between connection points in a venue or from one venue to another to accommodate larger shows where additional I/O was required.
The Optocore networks are set to run at a 2Gb speed, with 96 kHz sampling rate for optimum audio quality and channel count. In the Studio/Back of House network there are nine network IDs of a maximum 24, utilising 176 of 384 audio inputs with an unlimited number of outputs. The Theatre system uses 10 network IDs and 208 inputs and Southam Hall has 13 IDs and 376 audio inputs.
At the heart of each network is one of Optocore’s new AutoRouters. This can operate regardless of the network speed and sample rate and can be configured with a mix of Multimode or Singlemode transceivers to support any infrastructure with fibre ports for up to 20 different network access points.
The Optocore system in each venue is a mix of DD32R-FX, X6R-FX and X6R-TP interfaces, configured for AES and analogue audio, with additional DD4MR-FX units for MADI distribution. All three venues have fairly similar systems with the largest being in Southam Hall. Network connections at two FOH positions and a Monitor position allow for either the House or Guest consoles to tie into the Optocore network via analogue or AES and distribute audio to any other network device.
The Optocore systems were assembled in such a way that the system is capable of interfacing with any console that may come into the facility, giving ultimate usage and flexibility over time as different manufacturers and formats change.
Said Optocore North America’s Brandon Coons, “The NAC’s venues receive so many different acts of varying sizes and technical requirements. The new Optocore systems will give them the ability to support current acts and shows moving forward.”
(Jim Evans)

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