Located near the city centre and central railway station, Theater Fabriek is a former factory that glories in its industrial heritage, from exposed girders and bare ceiling to the ostentatious pipework that completely covers one wall of the main auditorium. Blue Man Group is performing the quirky blend of mime, rock’n’roll and audience participation that has made it a world-wide hit, with a one-year run in progress at the theatre.
Between the auditorium and the entrance lobby is a pair of massive spaces and a central, two-storey structure that houses a bar and first-floor restaurant. The spaces, where the show’s audiences sip coffees and beers before each show, are also used for live performances in their own right.
TM Audio’s project manager, Eric Rutten, takes up the story:
“When we were first asked to propose a system the theatre people weren’t exactly sure how the space would end up being used, except for the obvious one that it’s where people relax and have a drink or some dinner before the show. What we did know for sure, though, was that the size of the spaces – one is 60 by 22 metres, the other 68 by 18 meters and they’re both 15 metres high – and the concrete surfaces meant we had to find a solution that would avoid reflections and reverberation. Also, because of their size, both spaces would never seem full even with a big audience in. This made precisely controllable dispersion very desirable.
“Yet the system would also have to work for music as well as speech, so conventional public address solutions wouldn’t work. A distributed system would have created more time alignment and reverberation problems than it would have solved. And we needed to achieve this with a minimal quantity of loudspeakers and cabling. But we also knew that Renkus-Heinz had the answer!”
The team designed a simple and elegant Iconyx solution to this complex architectural acoustics challenge. In each of the two large spaces, a single IC16/8 array was mounted halfway along the long side of the room, with its centre slightly above head height. The IC16/8 has 16 drivers which are amplified and processed within the cabinet in pairs.
For the 12 metre-wide restaurant on the upper floor, four 8-driver IC8 arrays (which have fully-active drivers) are mounted on each of the outer walls. The complete system is driven from an Allen & Heath iDR8 digital zone mixer which takes a feed from one of the show’s equipment racks backstage. The mixer also provides overall time delays to each of the six separate array columns.
The TM Audio team used Renkus-Heinz BeamWare Windows-based software to precisely beam-steer each Iconyx array, allowing sound to be focused directly onto audience areas and away from the walls and ceilings. This was particularly critical in the restaurant where it was important not to have people seated near the arrays subjected to sound higher levels than elsewhere.
Adds Rutten: “In the end we had two weeks to devise a solution and design and install the system. The theatre’s management is very happy with the end result and for us the Iconyx provided the only workable solution, as well as being more cost-effective than a traditional system.”