Playing during June and July, the annual Ravenna Festival is currently taking place in the city of Ravenna in Italy, making great advances in its audio production and delivery. At the heart of the sound system are d&b audiotechnik’s Soundscape immersive live audio technology, and mixing systems from fellow German systems innovator, Lawo.
For the past three years, Italian rental company BH Audio – which specialises in classical, contemporary and jazz production work – has used the combined d&b/Lawo platform for critical trials ahead of Soundscape’s official launch at the ISE event in February.
In charge of the Ravenna Festival system setup is BH Audio’s Massimo Carli, who chose Lawo’s IP audio capable mc²36 console for FOH mixing as he had previously proved its adaptability at a Verdi Festival staged at the Farnese Theater in Parma.
“After three weeks of rehearsal, the producers wanted multitrack recordings to be made – this was easy, using two recording systems connected to the console through Ravenna,” he says. “Then I was asked to add all the intercom and dressing room calls for the singers and choir – this was possible using only the desk’s channels and internal matrix. One day immediately before the general rehearsal, I was asked to send sound to all the rooms in the theater. The mc²36 made it possible to meet all the requests without problems – it was very easy, and very fast. With other live consoles that we have in our warehouse, it would have been much more complicated, and I probably would have needed additional equipment.”
Returning to the Ravenna Festival, Carli says: “The use of Ravenna/AES67 makes the setup very clean compared to the past. From the mc²36, I can send 44 direct outs and 20 post-fader auxes to the Soundscape DS100 processor via one of its three Ravenna/AES67 ports. And I send the DS100 outputs to the AES/EBU outputs of the Lawo Stagebox directly to the various loudspeakers. We also used a tracking system through the network to dynamically transmit the correct position of the singers to the DS100.
“Soundscape will not be suitable for every type of work,” Carli reflects. “However, I’m sure that, with time and the changing of listening habits, it will be easier to get beyond the obstacles. Ultimately, in my opinion, it will transform live sound. Once you’ve used it, it’s very difficult to go back.”
Regardless of Soundscape, introducing the mc²36 to the Ravenna Festival had simplified the sound setup over that of previous years, as it required only the console and Lawo Compact I/O Stagebox in addition to the d&b DS100, connected using Cisco switches via Ravenna/AES67. Previously, it had required an analog console with AES/EBU A/D converters, a format converter, an audio matrix and a multicore, delivering an AES/EBU output to the amplifiers.
“The mc²36 gives you endless possibilities of preparation for your layout, and you can change and modify it really easy and quickly without interrupting the sound or going into ‘dangerous’ operation,” Carli explains. “With most of my jobs, you have to add channels or change routing or something right up until last second – or even during the event itself. With mc²36, it is never a problem.”
“These are big advantages for a rental company – buying something that can be used in many different ways and is extremely flexible and adaptable. Of course, in my list of planned future purchases there is already another Lawo console, I don’t know exactly when that will be, but I’m sure as soon as there is the need, we will do it.”