Amptec delivers a sustainable sound system for Cultuurcentrum MUZE in Heusden-Zolder
CC Muze20-02-2020 / Live /
Pioneering cultural centre revitalises its audio systems with d&b & DiGiCo
Cultuurcentrum MUZE has been one of Limburg's cultural pioneers for over 35 years. A truly multipurpose venue with a rich programme of high quality music, theatre and comedy shows, and additional spaces for receptions, art exhibitions and more. Cultuurcentrum MUZE boasts its own jazz orchestra , taking part of an international jazz network. The emphasis is on diversity, quality, originality, festivity and education. The programme is developed to attract a wide audience across all age ranges, from all walks of life. Since 1996, the cultural centre is led by director Tom Michielsen and a team of 15 highly dynamic employees.
In 2019, MUZE found a new home in the former machine room of the Zolder coal mine, offering a fascinating space in an industrial environment. However, this inspiring location posed several challenges for Amptec to resolve.
The previous building had a multipurpose hall and a theatre. The new complex offers a large 400-seat theatre, a smaller flat-floor hall with an extendable grandstand, the Black Box, plus a multipurpose ballroom. The challenge was how to integrate the existing sound system into the new complex without compromise? What AV infrastructure would be required to enable Cultuurcentrum MUZE to host all perfomances in the best possible conditions? And finally - importantly - how could the AV installation be made in a way that is both flexible and yet easy to operate for both technical and non-technical staff?
"The brief was to provide a sustainable solution, reusing as much of the old speakers and amplifiers as possible, completed with new equipment in the theatre," explains Jean Ramaekers, chief technician at Cultuurcentrum MUZE. "The theatre is the space in which we host the most dance, theatre and music shows, so we wanted a system in line with today's expectations. The question to Amptec was installing the perfect listening experience in the theatre, not an easy task given the acoustic challenges."
Ramaekers highlighted the importance of reusing the equipment from the old venue as a sustainable and cost-effective solution. "One of the main reasons for working with Amptec and d&b is that we could redeploy our old first generation speakers in the new venue," he says. "Amptec collected all the components, checked and certified them before reinstalling. We have a brand new d&b system in the main theatre plus easy control throughout."
In cooperation with the cultural centre's technical team, Amptec designed and installed the AV systems throughout the new venue, including all the cabling to link the different spaces. "A central patch in each room groups all of the AV cabling requirements including AES audio tie lines, CAT6 cables and HD-SDI cables for video transmission, plus various audio lines to the FoH and monitor consoles," explains Amptec project manager, Steven Aerts who handled the technical aspects of this project. "The central patchbays are interconnected with CAT6, HD-SDI and optical cables to allow communication between the different spaces." The main theatre benefits from a completely new d&b sound system. Amptec opted for optimum sound distribution with Yi7P and Yi10P. A Yi-SUB sub array built-in beneath the front edge of the stage supplemented by flown subs above the central Yi7P cluster ensure the best possible distribution of the low frequencies. Six compact 5S cabinets perform lipfill duties whilst eight 8Ss ensure a surround soundscape.
In the Black Box, Amptec utilised a configuration with d&b Ci9 top cabinets and E18 subs from the former theatre. The ballroom benefits from four 12S cabinets and four cardio subs for flexible configuration. New amplifiers enable unified operation. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the whole installation was the operation and control element. "In each room, a d&b R90 touchscreen controller ensures straightforward, uniform control of each space," says Aerts. "A central DiGiCo 4area4 processing engine acts as a matrix, collecting all the incoming audio signals before distribution to the amplifiers via AES/EBU. Inputs are selected via the R90 touchscreen. DiGiCo ACONTROL8 controllers in each room offer fader-based operation without the need for a mixing console."
In the theatre, an ACONTROL8 provides volume control for the microphone used for introduction; source selection for pause music; advertising messages and a Dolby decoder. Hearing loops and ambience microphones are linked via the 4area4.
"Amptec delivered a state-of-the-art system that meets all the requirements whilst being able to reuse the most important elements of the preceding installation. Furthermore, we've added straightforward, easy-to-operate control systems so that everyone, even non-technical staff, can achieve the best audio experience for their guests."
Jean Ramaekers agrees. "We have nothing but happy technicians and artists," he says. "We love the control setup, it's so convenient for parties or conferences with speakers and music playback. Most of the time there is no technician at these events, so control can be handled by the event manager, or even the bar staff. As for the sound system in the main theatre, it's fantastic! Bands come to prepare their theatre tours here. We picked the right material and the right company to install it. Mission accomplished!"