Boston, March 7, 2012–
The Boston Opera House is a striking example of the finest theatre architecture set in opulent French and Italian styles. Originally constructed in the late 1800s but extensively renovated in 2002, the 2,677-capacity theatre has been the sole performance venue of Boston Ballet since fall 2009 and was originally constructed as a tribute to vaudeville’s greatest impresario: Benjamin Franklin Keith. As a credit to both the original design its recent painstaking renovation, the Opera House is nothing short of stunning, featuring outstanding acoustics and superb craftsmanship throughout.
Recently, this landmark performance facility took its breathtaking natural acoustics one step further by installing a discrete and ultra-compact K-array sound reinforcement system for the Boston Ballet, customized and painstakingly finished to match the luxurious décor of its interior. The system, designed and installed by Talamas Broadcast Equipment, includes Sennheiser distributed K-array KK100 and KH15 speaker arrays plus KL18 and KS4 subwoofers, together with KA10 and KA40 Class D power amplifiers — all of which have been installed to maintain the visual and sonic integrity of the original space.
Nick Jabour of Talamas Broadcast Equipment, a Boston-based company serving the audio and video needs of New England’s film, television and broadcast production industries, worked with Boston Ballet’s Ben Phillips, production manager and technical director, and Benjamin Young, sound designer, on the design of the system. “There are three KK100 vertical arrays on each side of the proscenium arch,” explains Jabour. “Those are primarily for the orchestra level and the first few rows of the balcony.”
To allow shading of the coverage patterns of the KK100s, two arrays are driven from each channel of a KA10 amp. The KK100 is an ultra-slim vertical line array comprised of multiple two-inch neodymium transducers in a stainless steel chassis. Two KL18 subs, which each feature an 800W, 18-inch driver, are positioned below the left and right main arrays to provide low frequency reinforcement.
Flown systems provide additional coverage of the orchestra and balcony seating sections of the 2,500-capacity theatre. “There are two KH15 arrays and a KS4 sub array on a truss that’s flown above the downstage lip of the stage,” says Jabour. “The KH15s mostly cover the balcony. There’s another KH15 positioned behind the KS4 pointing straight down at the orchestra level to complete the stereo image.”
The self-powered KH15 is an ultra-compact two-way line array that provides consistent 120-degree horizontal coverage. The self-powered, ultra-compact KS4 subwoofer offers a unique dipole figure-8 coverage pattern capable of delivering very high SPLs.
Talamas worked closely with power distribution specialists Motion Labs and Sennheiser, exclusive distributor of K-array products in the U.S. and Mexico, on the unusual A.C. power set up for the system. “KA10s and a KA40 amplifier power the KK100s and the KL18s,” Jabour elaborates. “The KA10 and the KA40 amps are being run at 120 volts, but so that we could use a more standard style cable for the power run to the truss we run those speakers, which are self-powered, at 230 volts.”
The theatre’s acoustics were originally designed to deliver the spoken word to every seat in the house in an age before microphones and amplifiers. “So Boston Ballet wanted something that they could use very, very subtly,” comments Jabour. “But they have a choreographer who, for one of his pieces, requires the theatre to get very loud. So we had to be able to cover both extremes.”
“The K-array system helped us accomplish everything we set out to achieve,” says Benjamin Young. “The subtle reinforcement of a gentle orchestra is undetectable, and the intricacies of more modern electronic orchestrations are clear as can be, while powerful at the same time. I am certain that the majority of the patrons don’t even realize that they are there; they are the ninjas of speakers!”
“The key point in our original directive was that the speakers could not interrupt the aesthetic of the stage — and Talamas and Sennheiser worked with us to achieve that goal,” he adds. “All in all the system has turned out to be a huge success for us.”
The newly installed K-array system made its debut on March 1 with the opening of “Play With Fire.” The production features “Rooster,” choreographed by Christopher Bruce to the music of the Rolling Stones.