How Real-Time Modifiable Acoustics Provide Fluid Sound Interplay
The Czech Republic’s fourth largest city, Pilsen, is a bustling region renowned for its Pilsner Urquell Brewery. The JK Tyl Theatre (Josef Kajetán Tyl Theatre) is the city’s largest professional theater and an important regional cultural center. To meet the demand of the varied performances that it hosts, it installed the first permanent L-Acoustics Ambiance Acoustic System in Europe. L-Acoustics Czech distributor ProMusic was selected to provide a versatile acoustic toolkit to elevate the sonic experience for the audience.
Its renowned façade—a distinctive city landmark, nicknamed “Swiss cheese” by locals—is crafted from cast cement with 28 irregular bubbles, symbolizing the theater's grand stage curtain. The theater is divided into two primary buildings—the Great Theatre and the New Theatre, which holds up to 460 spectators—purposefully designed to accommodate four main genres of theater craft: operas, dramas, musicals, and ballets.
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The New Theatre’s team recognized the importance of providing optimal acoustics for a diverse range of performances, including unamplified concerts such as string quartets. To achieve this goal, they sought a solution that would allow for greater flexibility in sound perception and ensure ideal room acoustics for both performers and audience. As changeover times between shows are limited, instantaneous variable acoustics were a crucial element in their choice.
To address this, The New Theatre’s technical manager, Igor Staškovič, and the venue team partnered with Daniel Krčmář of ProMusic to enhance the theater’s acoustics using the L-Acoustics Ambiance Acoustic System.
With Ambiance, the team can now increase the reverberation time from 0.95s up to 2.0s with the simple press of a button on the L-ISA Controller. This allows them to activate the appropriate Ambiance pre-tuned configuration for orchestral music, opera or theater production, delivering the ideal room sensation for each scenario. Implementing the system ensures greater intelligibility and stunning, natural sound for unamplified concerts, enhancing the overall experience for both the performers and the audience.
“Ambiance represents the cutting-edge of active acoustics, offering a unique combination of premium acoustics and immersive audio realism,” explained Julien Laval, application project manager at L-Acoustics. “The Ambiance Acoustic System features an immersive loudspeaker design that requires both surround and overheads to create a proper acoustic field, providing a rich and immersive audio experience. The loudspeaker and microphone systems are designed using Soundvision, L-Acoustics 3D-mapping design software, ensuring the system is tailored to fit the geometry and volume of the room.”
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Ambiance uses an array of strategically placed microphones to capture the existing acoustical energy of the venue and processes the signals through the L-ISA Room Engine built within the L-ISA Processor II. The L-ISA 3D audio reverberation leverages the powerful DSP resources within the L-ISA Processor II through a cross-functional approach. It gives the power to shape the venue’s acoustic identity, crafting Ambiance Signatures by finely adjusting three key types of reflections.
Each Ambiance preset or “signature” is designed to meet the performance requirements of the venue, from simple acoustic enhancement to high-performance immersive hyperreal productions. Ambiance and L-ISA can operate independently or be combined to create endless sonic possibilities, allowing for maximum flexibility in system design. Six Ambiance Signatures enable the end user to find the best match for the various event types. Residual noise is minimized as much as possible during pure acoustics concerts.
The L-ISA system consists of 71 loudspeakers in total. In the main audience area of the theater, the flown L-ISA Scene system comprises five arrays of two A10i Focus and two A10i Wide each, with two further extension arrays of A10i (Wide and Focus) flanking the stage. Spatial front-fill is provided by 5XT across the stage lip while 19 X8 are dotted around the theater for surrounds and overheads. KS21i subs provide low-end extension.
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For the Ambiance Acoustic system, the setup includes 12 omni and cardioid microphones; eight omni microphones placed at front of house, above the audience, and four cardioid microphones above the performers. LA4X and LA2Xi amplifiers drive the whole system. The result is perfect coverage, excellent intelligibility, and sufficient power reserve for any type of performance.
“Concertgoers can now look forward to an exceptional audio experience at the theater, thanks to L-ISA Ambiance,” added Laval. “This innovative system enables the theater's acoustics to be tailored precisely to the specific genre and work being performed. As a result, visitors to the theater can expect outstanding acoustics for a range of performances, including drama, opera, musicals, and ballet, as well as large-scale philharmonic or symphonic concerts.”
The New Theatre's sound system has garnered praise from both local and international theater groups, making it a highly coveted venue for various productions. The seamless integration of live orchestral performances with exceptional acoustics creates a captivating and immersive experience.
“The new system ensures that each individual artist on stage can be heard with clarity and precision from their corresponding location, creating a seamless audio-visual experience for the audience,” says ProMusic engineer and certified trainer Petr Šťásek. “Through the built-in reverberation system, the listener is surrounded by sound, providing a sense of complete immersion in the performance.”
Theater director Martin Otava aptly summarized the system’s benefits, noting that it provides a unique and unmatched listening experience for audiences at The New Theatre. “The exceptional feature of the system lies in its ability to function seamlessly with artists, with or without direct sound reinforcement,” he explained. “The built-in reverberation system creates a truly immersive experience, enveloping the audience in sound from both the stage and auditorium. The system’s greatest advantage is its ability to produce entirely natural sound, allowing the listener to feel completely integrated with the action on stage without any artificial sound effects.”
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The system also brings the possibility of easily creating various sound effects, “for example, we can create the illusion that the ghost of Hamlet’s father is walking around the audience without changing the color or level of his voice,” Otava added.
“We’re thrilled to see both ProMusic and the theater embracing the possibilities of L-ISA Immersive sound and Ambiance technology,” concluded Laval. “The combination has helped The New Theatre solidify its position as a leading destination for theater productions, offering state-of-the-art sound quality and unparalleled facilities. We look forward to seeing how the L-Acoustics Ambiance Acoustic System enhances the overall atmosphere of the theater, creating a truly unforgettable experience for all who visit.”