'Invisible Cities' Goes Wireless

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Last month, Invisible Cities, the world’s first large-scale opera for wireless headphones, completed its limited run of sold-out performances at Los Angeles’ Union Station – the largest railway terminal in the western United States. At the heart of the production, which was staged within the vast, multi-room expanse of the terminal as well as among its outdoor courtyards, was Sennheiser’s new Digital 9000 wireless system. The microphone system delivered uncompressed, artifact-free audio night after night to patrons donning Sennheiser wireless headphones.

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The 11-piece orchestra of Invisible Cities was miked using Sennheiser evolution and Neumann microphones.

The opera, a collaboration among The Industry, L.A. Dance Project and Sennheiser, was written by Christopher Cerrone and based on the 1972 novel by Italo Calvino. The narrative, which is accompanied by an 11-piece live orchestra being captured by a selection of Sennheiser and Neumann microphones, takes audience members on an artistic, multi-sensory journey throughout the terminal as character Marco Polo describes his quests to Emperor Kublai Khan. Thanks to professional and consumer wireless technology from Sennheiser, neither the performers nor the audience members are restricted by the typical spatial confines of a theatre, and participants are invited to experience the opera from an almost infinite number of different perspectives.

Three core technology elements from Sennheiser made the technical production possible: these included wired microphones; wireless microphones and IEM (in-ear monitoring) systems; and wireless consumer headphones. Each instrument in the orchestra was miked using Sennheiser or Neumann wired microphones while performances were broadcast to performers and audience members using Sennheiser’s state-of-the-art wireless technology. Audience participants were able to experience the entire performance using wireless consumer headphones from the Sennheiser RS 120 II system.

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