The Show Must Go On

What element of production is often taken for granted, yet influences the audiences perceptions the most? The sound. Without sound there is no experience. We’ve worked intimately with some of the world’s greatest theatres, to help them to help captivate the audience and bring them into another realm. 

In keeping with the most beautiful buildings in the world, we’ve designed the most beautiful sound systems. Any permanent audio system must be discreet but simultaneously maintain flexibility to meet the different requirements for the many productions. Our compact speakers have the capability to cover large venues with a minimal amount of elements. K-array’s portfolio also contains some of the most unique solutions that can adapt to the curvature of the stage or the shape of seating for an impressive option for front fill and under balcony fill. We’ve highlighted three favourite theatre projects we’ve been involved with.

The Royal Opera House, London

The Challenge
A professional discreet audio solution that blends seamlessly into its environment to provide an immersive experience without detracting from the surroundings. StageElectrics chose K-array for this exciting project.

The Solution
The final system, comprises the Python-KP52, precisely colour matched to the gold of the proscenium arch, with 24 KKS50 Compact Sub-Bass in six clusters of four subs, three clusters each side, eight Kobra-KK102 front fills built into the new thrust stage, two Kommander-KA84 four channel amplifiers powering the main proscenium L/R system, a KA84 four channel amplifier powering all six sub bass clusters and a further Kommander-KA24 four channel amplifier powering the front fills.

The overall performance of the system, totalling eight KP102s per side, each providing 720W from 12 drivers in each section, suddenly starts to mount up. With 96 3.15inch drivers providing around 5,760W, a dispersion of seven degrees vertical and 100 degrees horizontal and weighing in at 96kg, this becomes a system like no other.

One of the truly amazing performance aspects of the system is the image across the room, from sitting in the very first box, round to dead centre, the stereo image is impeccable. Even if you are sitting in the first box house left, you experience a lower level of the left array due to proximity, but you also receive a strong level of house right because the distance allows the system to couple more elements. Combined with the 110 degree horizontal spread, left and right are well balanced. The other benefit of this system is that due to the amount of drivers in the column you are always on axis to the system. This has a dramatic effect on the requirement for under balcony delays and the real experience of sound coming from the stage and not above your head.

The Happy Customer
“As well as being an opera house, we also host commercial events. And for us, the K-array system covers at least 90/95% of what we want to do. If we were doing Iron Maiden, it would be slightly different, but the chances of that happening are really slim. When you walk into the auditorium, you’ve got the grandiose gold proscenium, rich red plush seats and you’re not expecting to see a loudspeaker hanging above your head. That’s key for us; it’s all about people coming into the auditorium and not seeing a loudspeaker, or not having a sense of the sound being reinforced. For a commercial event, it’s fair enough, but generally, if we’re doing some of the more contemporary operas or ballets which may have electronic instruments as part of the score, you just want that sense of the sound being lifted, but not the sense of it coming from that loudspeaker over there.”

Steve Zissler - Sound Director at Royal Opera House

Havana Grand Theatre

The Challenge
Home to the Cuban National Ballet, the theatre required a complete audio renovation. An even and powerful coverage for all seating while maintaining minimal visual impact was the brief. Implemented by installer/distributor All Trading Worldwide.

The Solution
Using simulation software, the system was designed to have the most even and powerful coverage for all seating while maintaining the lowest visual impact possible. The K-array solution is composed of 8 Python-KP102 line arrays plus a half-metre Python-KP52 loudspeaker arrayed on both sides of the stage opening as the main system supported by four Thunder-KMT18P subwoofers per side.

Three Anakonda-KAN200 were chained and implemented under each balcony to reinforce the sound coverage of the first seats closest to the stage that are aligned with the main system. Two Python-KP52 loudspeakers supported by a Thunder-KMT12P subwoofer were set for the same purpose for the upper balcony. Six Anakonda-KAN200+ were installed in front of the stage as front fill powered by a Kommander-KA84 amplifiers.

The Budapest Opera House

The Challenge
Returning the theatre ‘back to the original’ was the brief. Chromosound needed a discreet, high-quality sound system, one that needed to win over the sceptics of those that didn’t believe a speaker system should be used in a traditional opera house. 

The Solution
In a collaboration between Chromasound, Andor Fürjes and Hungarian distributor Audio Partner, a full K-array system of column loudspeakers, subwoofers and amplifiers was specified. The slim form factor of K-array’s column loudspeakers alongside their range of customisable finishes also made them a great fit for this project as they could blend seamlessly into the historic environment. “The National Opera House has quite narrow wall surfaces at the stage opening, so bulky loudspeaker enclosures were not an option for architects” continues Fürjes. “Also, the renovation aimed for a more direct off-the-pit response and less carpeted surface, so the orchestra pit was moved into the audience area by one or two rows, resulting in a significantly larger proscenium stage area. The larger proscenium stage area also meant more potential risk of feedback, if the loudspeakers were to be installed at the stage opening.”

Through EASE modelling, Fürjes confirmed the viability of a K-array system leading to the installation of 18 Python and six Kobra line array loudspeakers, driven by Kommander amplifiers. Sub-bass is provided by the Thunder and Rumble series of subwoofers. Describing his design decisions, Fürjes explains, “The main loudspeakers were set to be as high as possible to provide more on-axis response from the stall seats up to the topmost listening positions. Subwoofers were exiled to the upper boxes next to the stage. Some subwoofers are installed below the stall seats floor for a more direct bass response.”  Throughout the incredible King’s Red Saloon, fourteen ultra-flat aluminium line array element loudspeakers ensure discreet yet powerful sound. The preservation of the look and feel of the space was of great importance to this project, and the custom finishes offered by K-array helped with this. 

The Happy Customer
"It was very easy to work with K-array loudspeakers. We were wondering how the custom colours would fit into the environment but on opening the boxes, we saw immediately that the colours were superb and a perfect fit with the space. I especially liked the gold finish on the main PA column in the proscenium, and the tiny red-coloured Vyper loudspeakers, deployed in the corners of the King’s Red Saloon.” 

Bálint Rédei - Chromasound installation engineer

“In the past, I’d had bad experiences with traditional column loudspeakers when trying to sound musical. However, the first listening test of K-array products several years ago convinced me that it is possible to make full musical sound from even tiny-looking enclosures if done properly. The loudspeaker system is visually just as elegant and graceful as it can be in this historical environment. I sincerely hope that at least some of the audience will be wondering where this great sound is coming from.”

Andor Fürjes - Sound System Designer