An amplified outdoor performance of Der Fliegende Holländer (The Flying Dutchman)
in September marked the first European use of Renkus-Heinz’s Iconyx
digitally controllable column arrays as part of a live sound system design.
The show was staged during the Zeeland Nazomer Festival
, at the Port of Zeeland. Featuring five soloists, a large choir and a full symphony orchestra, it was performed in the open on a floating stage in Terneuzen’s harbour in front of an audience of 1,000. Ampco Pro Rent
provided the audio production, with the Iconyx
loudspeakers supplied by sister company TM Audio
, Renkus-Heinz’s Dutch distributor.
Sound designer Cees Wagenaar
of BV Oorzaak
specialises in large-scale opera and classical music and was hired by the producers to create a system design capable of conveying the stirring power of Wagner in full flight – without the assistance of walls or ceiling. “I wasn’t precisely sure what the producers expected, nor what the weather conditions would be,” he comments, “so my line array solution was slightly over-the-top. But Wagner is very dynamically written with a lot of brass and percussion, and you really need the headroom.”
His spec called for left and right hangs of line array, eight a side, flown off tall truss masts and angled down at the audience grandstand. Various fills were provided by Renkus-Heinz Synco STS and CE3 cabinets
, with Renkus-Heinz TRC 81/9
speakers serving as compact stage monitors – mixed by Rob Acket
– relaying the orchestra and choir sound to the soloists.
When it came to the five soloists’ own sound reinforcement, Wagenaar
’s aim was to localise their voices to their physical positions on stage, a role for which he’d used other column loudspeakers in the past. An audition of Renkus-Heinz’s Iconyx
digitally controlled column arrays earlier this year, he says, literally changed the sonic landscape for him.
“My opinion is that you need to set the speakers where your sources are, so for the singers I wanted to place the speakers right there in among the singers. The small, narrow shape of the Iconyx means you can put them where you want them, as long as the producer agrees – that’s one of the demands of my sound design. In this case we incorporated them into the set so they’re invisible to the audience. In the planning everyone was a little anxious about that but when they were installed you just couldn’t see them anymore.”
Of even greater relevance, he says, was the new loudspeaker’s acoustic performance, designed from the outset not only for voice but full-range music. “The great advantage of this speaker is that it has a very precise vertical opening angle, so there’s no feedback even if a singer is standing close to the column. The other unique thing about these columns is that they’re very warm-sounding; usually columns sound like columns but this is a music loudspeaker.”
A pair of Iconyx IC16
s, each of which standard 1.9 metres tall and around 18 cm square, was placed at stage level to the left and right of stage center, spaced apart by a few metres and directly within the soloists’ performance area. With each of the column’s 16 full-range coaxial drivers equipped with an individual DSP channel and amplifier, they were focused by Wagenaar
and TM Audio
’s Reinier Bruijns
using Renkus-Heinz’s BeamWare
software, and precisely timing-aligned with the line arrays via BSS Soundweb.
adds: “If you place them correctly, as with most line arrays, you have very equal sound pressure from front to back. The whole IC16 is effectively one loudspeaker with a single acoustical source point, and because you can electronically adjust the opening angle in the vertical plane, you can really focus sound exactly where you want it.”
With the main clusters, flown high above the stage from truss towers, carrying the orchestra and choir sound, the stage-level Iconyx
columns provided a distinct acoustical location for the soloists’ vocals within that broad sound field. The two IC16
s were programmed to create a square 10 degree lobe, and were tilted backwards to raise the gain before feedback level behind them, as they were positioned between the singers; they were also covered with acoustically transparent fabric to match the set design.