After the successful opening of the Rathausmarkt Open Air in Hamburg Germany last year, the classical music event with General Music Director Kent Nagano and the Hamburg Philharmonic Orchestra on August 31, 2019, enjoyed a brilliant new edition. Around 10,000 visitors attended Johannes Brahms’ Symphony No. 1 in C minor op. 68, George Gershwin’s classic “Someone to watch over me”, “I got rhythm”, “Summertime”, the Rhapsody in Blue and much more.
For the first time the Farao Studios GmbH from Munich provided the acoustics at the event this year – and started with a complex concept, that combined acoustic measures on stage with elements of virtual acoustics and a high-resolution pro-ribbon sound system of Dutch manufacturer Alcons Audio to an outstanding listening pleasure.
“We work in the studio with loudspeakers that work on a similar principle. When the opportunity arose to work with Alcons at the Rathausmarkt Open Air, we were of course very curious” Felix Gargerle, co-founder Farao Classics
When asked about the origins of this sonic concept, Felix Gargerle, co-founder of Farao Classics alongside Farao Studios and also violinist at the Bayerische Staatsoper, responds: “We at Farao do not approach sound reinforcement from a technical direction, but primarily from a musical and artistic direction. I know Kent Nagano from the time together at the Bavarian State Opera. Already in 2014, we launched Audi’s “Vorsprung Festival”, together with Kent Nagano. On this occasion, we also developed a new concept for classical sound, which is primarily devoted to the question of how to achieve a natural reproduction for a large audience in the open air. ”
Virtual concert hall acoustics on stage
And this concept brought the experienced team of Farao Studios this year at the Hamburg Rathausmarket square. So here it was not just about reinforcing sound, but first of all creating controlled acoustic conditions on stage, so that the musicians can play in the way they are used to in the concert hall. The acoustics created on stage, both by means of acoustic measures, such as sound reflectors, as well as electro-acoustic measures should then be recorded and transmitted to the audience via the PA.
That’s where Alcons’ proven pro-ribbon systems came into play. “We work in the studio with loudspeakers that work on a similar principle. When the opportunity arose to work with Alcons at the Rathausmarkt Open Air, we were of course very curious”, recalls Felix Gargerle.
LR28 and LR18 Pro-Ribbon Line Array Systems as main PA
Finally, a setup consisting of 15x Alcons LR28 large-scale pro-ribbon line array systems (l / r) and 14x Alcons LR18 as center cluster was simulated and installed. A total of 20 of the powerful BC543 3x 18” cardioid subwoofer systems provided support in the low frequency range. The monitor system consisted of 4x 3 LR7 micro line-array and 4x VR8 compact monitor flown in the stage roof. 33 Sentinel10 amplified loudspeaker controllers drove the system, with 132 channels in total. With Uwe Biesgen from Ceativsound in Berlin, an experienced Alcons system engineer was on-site in Hamburg, who “did an outstanding job,” as Gargerle points out. The Alcons systems were supplied by the PM Blue GmbH from Hamburg.
“We deliberately opted for a large-format system and also for tall arrays”, explains Florian Rauscher, who was responsible for the mix during the open-air together with Farao-Co managing director Andreas Cämmerer. “When working with an orchestra, we want to keep the stage as quiet as possible in order to provide the musicians with the accustomed acoustics that allow the musicians to hear each other well. With the length of the arrays we therefore ensure first and foremost a good damping to the rear and to the side. However, we opted for the Alcons LR28 large-format system because we wanted a true full-range system. We work with a special multi-channel microphone technology, where the sound can be reproduced much more naturally with a real full-range system. And naturalness is always a crucial point in classical music. ”
In order to provide the necessary working conditions for the Farao team, the height and width of the stage was therefore extended. “We wanted to put a center hang on stage to work with a L-C-R setup. For that we first needed more height in the stage, “Rauscher continues. Felix Gargerle adds: “We also slightly broadened the stage in order to be able to create a reasonable stereo angle to relatively far back in the audience, without which a spatial image would not have been possible. After all, we wanted to reach as much of the area as possible with all three signals (L-C-R).” A mere 100 meters / 328 feet distance had to be covered on the Rathausmarkt.
“The best I’ve ever come across”
What was then to be heard, not only inspired the trained ears of the Farao team, but also the conductor, the musicians, the audience and the press. “Sonically, that was the best thing I’ve ever come across “, Gargerle praises the pro-ribbon systems. “It was so much fun to work with it! The pro-ribbon driver technology from Alcons is a real benefit as it provides a very finely resolved sound. In addition, the PA is very versatile. In the mix you can work very flexible with it. It does not impose a specific sound on you. The spatial image that we were aiming for, was wonderfully translated by the sound system. All in all, the systems really met our expectations very well.”
The Alcons systems sounded very natural from the beginning. Especially the high frequency range convinced from the beginning and everything sounded directly relatively homogeneous. It was a very nice moment for all of us.” Florian Rauscher, mix engineer Farao Studios
Florian Rauscher continues: “The moment when you send a signal to the PA for the first time at an event is always very exciting. Of course, you first hear what the problems are. The Alcons systems sounded very natural from the beginning. Especially the high frequency range convinced from the beginning and everything sounded directly relatively homogeneous. It was a very nice moment for all of us.”
“We thank Kent Nagano, the Hamburg State Opera and the city of Hamburg for the confidence to implement our concept there. We look forward to a repeat – then again very gladly with Alcons audio”, concludes Gargerle.