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A digital kure

Mar, 2008

On Corso Libertà, one of the main streets in the center of the northern Italian town of Merano, visitors’ attention is immediately caught by the striking facade of the Kurhaus, one of the buildings typical of Mitteleuropa spa towns that were originally intended to host tourists for both treatment and leisure.

Designed in 1873 by architect Josef Czerny, its inauguration was illuminated by no less than 120 gas lamps – replaced with electric types in 1897. Vienna architect Friedrich Ohmann later designed an overall renovation, enabling the venue to host concerts, banquets, conferences, dances, and other events. Inaugurated once again in 1914 after the addition of the large Kursaal hall and a “Rotunda,” the Kurhaus is the most attractive historicist-style building in the entire Italian alpine zone. The Kursaal, able to host up to a thousand people in a 655 square meter hall in splendid Liberty style, recently underwent a technical upgrade to discretely enter the digital age with the installation of a sound system that meets all the requirements of the varied events on its calendar.

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Matteo Coppe, owner of Audiotek, a company specialized in audio, video and lighting consultancy and installations from Pineta di Laives (Bolzano), had the delicate task of designing and installing the system. He explains: “90% of the events held in the room need sound reinforcement for speech – presentations, fashion shows, contests, etc. – but it was also necessary to amplify recorded music and, in the future, accommodate concerts by small classical music and jazz ensembles. In addition to ensuring top quality sound, part of the brief was that the enclosures had to be extremely compact.”

In close collaboration with Yamaha Commercial Audio Italia, a solution was found to overcome the room’s acoustic problems caused by a large amount of glazing and numerous other reflecting surfaces. It was decided to opt for a point-source system, with precisely aimed and fine-tuned delay enclosures on the main floor level and the two large balconies. The loudspeaker enclosures used are all from Yamaha’s Installation Series, and the system was calibrated and tweaked by Coppe and Fabrizio Dall’Oca, the project’s works manager on behalf of the Kurhaus management.

The main part of the room is equipped with a “front” consisting of two IF2208 speakers mounted on the columns alongside the stage and two floor-mounted IS1118 subwoofers. The delay setup comprises three pairs of IF2108 enclosures mounted on the other columns running down the hall. To ensure that the installation had the lowest possible impact, the new cable runs used the existing ducts – after no less than seven pallet-loads of old cable were removed.

The main balconies also have a front pair of IF2108 speakers and two pairs of IF2205 delay speakers, in this case pointing outwards and tilted slightly downwards for optimum coverage.

In addition to these two main zones, two more IF2205 speakers (the smallest model in the Installation Series) are installed when required on the rail at the sides of another smaller balcony, under the control room at the far end of the hall.

The control room is dominated by a Yamaha M7CL digital mixing console, but there are connection points in other strategic positions: for example, in a small trapdoor in the floor at the center of the room, and one on the small balcony below the control room, enabling the console to be moved if necessary. Coppe adds, “We also installed a wireless access point, so the operator can control the M7CL from anywhere in the room using a tablet PC to set volume and other parameters according to the event’s requirements. This is also very useful when he has to set up and regulate microphones on stage.”

Going into greater detail regarding the system, Coppe explains: “From the console, six signals are fed via EtherSound to a Yamaha DME64N, on which 24 outputs are used. For each output we programmed the DSP with a speaker processor, a delay, and a 31-band graphic EQ on the system’s main L-R lines to ensure that the delays are in phase, as well as equalizing the single lines and the overall system.”

On stage a rack installed in the wing is fitted with three Yamaha AD8HR 8-channel remotely controllable mic preamplifiers. Inheriting the sonic quality of the PM5000, these preamps are combined with a 24 bit/96 kHz A/D converter, and enable gain and phantom power to be controlled directly from the console. Thanks to a NAI48-ES Network Audio Interface, up to 48 channels of audio can be routed via EtherSound to and from the control room via a single CAT5 cable

Coppe continues: “On stage there are also four IF2108 monitors and two IF2205 speakers on in-fill duty, positioned downstage to cover the front rows of center seats, which are not covered by the main loudspeakers.”

In the amp room, the amplifier rack houses ten Yamaha units, including three models from the PC-1N Series: PC3301N for the front IF2208, PC6501N for the subwoofers and six PC2001N units that power the delay enclosures and stage monitors. There are also two four-channel XM4180 power amps used with the IF2205 on the balcony. At the top of the rack, a small CP4SF control panel allows less experienced users to directly control the sound on the large and small balconies and the in-fill speakers.

As well as his business as a system integrator and installer, for which he recently inaugurated an equipment-packed showroom in Bolzano, Coppe is also a well known live sound engineer on some of Italy’s most prestigious jazz festivals, so his choice of the Installation Series loudspeaker enclosures was based on solid experience. As he explains: “To put them to the test, I used them on a few small concerts and they sounded really good – particularly the IF2208. I had an excellent impression right from the first listen. They’ve got punch, a clean sound, and plenty of dynamics. And that includes the subwoofers. And since they are also available in white finish, at the Kursaal they‘re so unobtrusive that when the first people came into the room when the job was finished, they asked me when I was going to mount the enclosures. They were already in place!”


Products M7CL , DME64N , NAI48-ES , AD8HR , PC-1N Series , XM Series , Installation Series
Location Merano, Italy
Company Audiotek

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