SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE - JOAN SUTHERLAND THEATRE RENEWAL
Theatre redevelopment project completed in December 2017
The renewal project for the Joan Sutherland Theatre (JST) was undertaken during a seven month closure in 2017. We worked as part of the audio and AV consultant team, including Muller BBM and Theatre Plan, to design and deliver the new systems.
Our scope included developing a measured and subjective evaluation of the loudspeaker system options and the electro-acoustic enhancement system options, design of the stage audio input systems and signal transport network, design of the central audio router which is the central hub of the audio system and the audio control room fitout.
Loudspeaker systems evaluation
The SOH undertook an extensive evaluation process including measurements and subjective assessments to determine the most suitable loudspeaker system for the JST. The measured evaluation consisted of an extensive acoustical test of the performance of each product as compared to their published specifications, and suitability for the JST.
EAE Systems evaluation
The evaluation of the electro-acoustic enhancement system and the 3D spatial mixing platform was a far more complicated exercise. With the loudspeaker system now determined, we designed a temporary installation of the JST loudspeaker system into the Concourse Theatre in Chatwood. This room was selected as the JST system could be deployed with each loudspeaker within 50mm error of their relative locations in the JST.
The tests were conducted over three days with various content including a small orchestra, simulated music groups, solo live voice and playback content. Two groups of listeners provided feedback via a participant response form that asked several questions regarding the naturalness, transparency and various other perameters. The first group was drawn from the industry including musicians, mix engineers, sound designers and expert listeners. The second group was from the SOH technical team who have greater awareness of the requirements of the system.
Audio control system
The sound system at the Joan Sutherland Theatre comprises of an integrated control and loudspeaker system used for enhanced reverberation, spatial audio with source localisation and typical sound reinforcement for concerts. These systems are not provided by a single vendor and required central signal distribution and control. Our involvement in this project included the design of a central signal distribution system that provides simplicity to the end user. The system design is centred around a Lawo router distributing analog, MADI and Dante signals across the system. The design incorporates inputs and outputs from the field plates distributed across the theatre, the Midas console system, the wireless microphone and IEM system, allowance for overlay consoles up to the end point which are the d&b amplifiers in the installation. Snapshots for the most common scenarios were programmed during the commissioning period and changes can happen via a touchscreen at the control location. However, the flexibility of the entire system also remains and can be programmed by advanced users.
Control room fitout and Qlab systems
An important part of our work on the renewal project was the fit-out of the audio control room to provide an ergonomic and comfortable space for the audio team. We designed custom workspaces with integrated console and racks to provide convenient access to systems and tools regularly used by JST operators.
The people and companies that made it happen.
We worked in close association with the technical team of the Sydney Opera House including Lou Rosicky, David Dalton and Jeremy Christian. Additionally, we got invaluable input from Royce Sanderson and Tod Deeley while designing and commissioning.
The Auditoria team consisted of Scott Willsallen and Luis Miranda who designed and commissioned the project.
We worked in close association with Muller BBM and, in particular, with Gunter Engel to successfully complete the project.
Brad Maiden and Bosco Tan from Theatreplan were great collaborators to successfully complete the project.
Downer were the integrators for the project and their efforts allowed to finish the project in time and satisfactorily. Glen Hodson was the project manager from Downer.
We also thank Laing O'Rourke who were the building company overseeing the project.