Dante deployed in major ROH refurbishment
Friday, 22 May 2020
linburyThe refurbished Linbury Theatre
UK - The Royal Opera House in Covent Garden is one of the world’s leading opera houses. The recent Open Up refurbishment created a series of new spaces within the building offering a more welcoming visitor experience.
Built in 1858, the Royal Opera House is home to The Royal Ballet and the Royal Opera, as well the Linbury Theatre and various restaurants and a gift shop. The Open Up project was a £62m major refurbishment to create a welcoming visitor-friendly experience, improve crowd flow, welcome daytime activity of events for all ages relating to the art of dance and music and refurbish the Linbury Theatre into a world-class venue for intimate performances for ballet and opera.
Martin Adams, technical manager, Open Up Project, Royal Opera House, and Tom Thompson, technical manager, Linbury Theatre, were tasked with creating an audio network to meet the theatre's current and future needs. Adams and Thompson selected the Dante media networking technology in place of the previously analogue-reliant audio, as a major part of the renovation.
Prior to the refurbishment, the Linbury Theatre relied on an analogue infrastructure based on 1990's standards for audio distribution – there was no network infrastructure in place. Because of its analogue infrastructure, the theatre was restricted by the system’s limited expandability and long, expensive analog cable runs.
“We realised Dante would be the right technology for us when we saw how many manufacturers in the industry were using Dante for their own solutions," said Adams. "Hundreds of manufacturers offer Dante-enabled products, and if the manufacturers are embracing it, we understood clearly that the market was embracing it.”
“With this project, we needed to plan ahead for two, three or four years from now,” said Thompson. “We decided quickly that audio over IP was the right way to go from an installation and usability perspective, and that the Dante solution would be easy for us to work with, even though we're coming from an analogue background with really no experience in AoIP or networking.”
With the new network infrastructure in place, the theatre team could quickly and easily integrate any of the more than 1,600 available Dante-enabled products from more than 400 manufacturers into the network. Current Dante-enabled equipment in the theatre includes devices from Solid State Logic, Luminex and Shure, among others.
Since the Linbury Theatre is part of the Royal Opera House, the theatre generates a lot of its own work for The Royal Ballet and the Royal Opera with different composers. Whether recording, streaming or doing live replays of compositions, working with composers means the theatre must be ready for anything. Dante and Dante Virtual Soundcard (DVS) have introduced the theatre to a world of scalability and ever-changing flexibility by allowing composers to integrate different equipment or personal computers into the system.
“Composers don’t like having restrictions put upon them, and with Dante, we can expand and contract the system as needed," said Adams. "We can now take a composer’s PC and plug it straight into the system, and by using DVS, we can add that person’s work into the system very, very simply and very, very quickly - we never had that kind of flexibility in the past.”
The team is now looking to deploy even more control features and to enhance network security with Dante Domain Manager.
“Dante gives us more flexibility and usability than we have ever had before,” said Adams. “And using Dante means that we are future-proofing ourselves by knowing that we can expand on any number of channels in the future and control audio in any manner we need.”
For more on Linbury's refurbishment, read Rob Halliday's feature in LSi March 2019.
(Jim Evans)

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