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Centre Musical Barbara

Jan, 2008

With a concert hall, recording studio, seven rehearsal rooms and multiple meeting/playing spaces, the Centre Musical Fleury Goutte d’Or-Barbara is an amazing new creative facility in the center of Paris. It also happens to have the biggest and most uniquely versatile EtherSound network in Europe.

The area of Paris known as The Barbes—close to Sacré Coeur and Montmarte, is a neighbourhood of diverse ethnic mixes with a thriving student population. Over the last few years, the area has begun to change with contemporary boutiques and restaurants opening. It was the ideal place for the Paris city council to fund and build the brand new, purpose built top flight music education facility, Centre Musical Fleury Goutte d’Or-Barbara. The aim is to nurture young Parisian musicians so the centre comes complete with a fully equipped concert hall, recording studios and rehearsal facilities.

Designed by the Architect, Claude Constantini, whose work includes The Stade de France, Barbara is set over 5 floors and occupies some 1500 square meters. Costing 10 million Euros to build, it officially opens in September. Aimed at the 13 to 28 age group, the remit for the centre is quite simple. Musicians can apply with a portfolio of work and based on merit, not necessarily musical qualifications. Barbara will then guide them through a series of modules to cover performance and recording.

Senior Sound Engineer and Music coach from the centre Guillaume Lenost explains the aim, “We are providing top-of-the-range technical facilities for the students in order for them to help learn their craft. We will have live audiences as well so the students will learn a huge amount.”

Building work, which began in 2006 with the AV installation by the Nantes-based company Melpomen, was completed in April this year. One of the unique features of the technical infrastructure is the EtherSound network capability. By way of quick explanation, EtherSound offers up to 64 channels of 24bit digital audio at 48kHz, plus bi-directional status and control data, with a very low latency. In the Barbara centre, two recording studios, the main concert hall along with the seven rehearsal rooms and other meeting rooms are all connected using CAT 6 and CAT 5 cable by what is regarded as the biggest installation of its kind in Europe. Design of the matrix network itself fell to AuviTran, the Grenoble based company who design and manufacture EtherSound networks.

At the heart of the system, 64 EtherSound audio lines run off one point in each of the rooms with some, including the concert hall and main recording studio, having multiple points. Flexibility was part of the audio install design brief, and this has been achieved. To give an example, if the audio output of either mixing consoles in the main hall is needed to go to one of the rehearsal rooms, it can be streamed via the EtherSound system. And the network is bi-directional.

Jeremie Weber, AuviTran’s Hardware Department Manager explains the nature of install. “At the moment this is the biggest in Europe and a unique installation because of its versatility. There is no compromise in the system that is in place at Centre Barbara. I would say it is the most complete and flexible installation we have ever seen on EtherSound.” The network is controlled and linked by Five AuviTran’s AVM500-ES EtherSound Network Matrix boxes. A 19” 1U rack box capable of linking a full matrix router of 320 x 320 audio channels. For Barbara, four units are installed in the main recording studio and one placed in the concert hall next to the Front of House audio console.

Situated on the lowest floor of the building, the concert hall holds an audience of up to 300 people with a stage capable of accommodating some 30 to 40 musicians. It has a nightclub feel and will host all kinds of student gigs, giving them the chance to learn and perfect their performing skills. Audio-wise the hall is based around a NEXO, Yamaha, AuviTran solution. Yamaha’s M7CL-48 is the choice of FOH console with a Yamaha LS9-32 on call for mixing stage monitors. On the rear of the M7CL, three EtherSound cards made by AuviTran fit into the desks EtherSound slots for access to the matrix. A stack of Yamaha AD8HR mic pre amps are placed by the stage and are also part of the network.

For the Front of House PA, a NEXO GEO S12 Line Array is the order of the day. Three boxes per side, 3x GEO S1210 plus 1x GEO S1230, work on a Fixed Plate Rigging System, capable of giving off some 1200 watts per speaker. Under the stage, one RS15 per side (used in cardioid mode) is in place. For monitor wedges, 16x NEXO PS15s are available. Joe White, NEXO’s Marketing Director, comments on the suitability of speaker choice at the venue. “As far as power, versatility and the price of the GEO S12, I don’t think another brand of line array could have been installed here. One of the reasons why the RS15 sub was chosen was its versatility. Just by changing the presets in it, the sound engineer here can either work in omni, so if they are having a concert where a lot of bass is required, then they can have a direct radiation sub-woofer. However, if they are doing a classical or maybe a jazz type of concert when you don’t want so much low frequency coming onto the stage, then you just put them in cardioid mode and eliminate problems of low frequencies going up to the microphones on stage.”

Driving the whole speaker system in racks by the stage are five NEXO NXAMPs, the first NEXO product made in partnership with Yamaha after the agreement was signed in 2005. The unit is a digital controller that has an amplifier in it but all controlled by one DSP. For the Barbara centre, the smaller of two models, the 4x1, was ordered; offering four channels in and out, it also has an EtherSound card in it made in conjunction with AuviTran.

Joe White summarises, “this installation is a really good example of the synergy that can happen between Yamaha and Nexo, especially on the EtherSound aspect, which offers Sound Engineers more control. With this system they can easily see the performance of the speakers and amplifiers. We really feel that we are in place for the next ten years and can push the EtherSound technology because we see so many advantages coming out of it. So for us, this installation is a really good example of how it can happen.”


Location Paris, France
Company Melpomen

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