d&b Soundscape gives Sydney City Recital Hall a new voice

Photo: Simon Wood

City Recital Hall is a world-class performance venue located in the heart of Sydney’s Central Business District.

With a curated program of contemporary music performances to complement its presenting partners, which include the Australian Chamber Orchestra, Musica Viva Australia, the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, Pinchgut Opera, and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, the venue now features a d&b Soundscape system to offer an immersive audio experience.

In recent years, new management in the form of Justin Boschetti, CEO and Stuart Rogers, Director of Programming, aimed to rejuvenate the venue’s offerings and business model by expanding the types of performances held there, and to support this new strategy, they identified the need for a modern, state-of-the-art sound system.

Having experienced a d&b Audiotechnik-powered sound design at a Bjork concert in New York, Rogers and Technical Manager Richard Fenton engaged with d&b and their partner NAS Solutions to expand the creative programming potential of the venue and elevate its positioning within the Australian music scene.

The challenges facing the project included architectural constraints such as rigging and weight restrictions, ensuring the sound system would complement the hall’s large size and existing acoustics, particularly to manage the venue’s long RT in the lower frequencies, and implementing a system that was flexible, easy to operate for rapid show turnarounds, and adaptable to various performances.

The project involved close collaboration between experienced specialist solutions provider NAS Solutions, specialist rigging provider HME, and City Recital Hall’s own technical staff.

NAS provided design consultation and supplied the PA equipment and processing, while HME updated the infrastructure by installing new rigging points and cabling.

The NAS team then installed the system components on site, after which Richard Fenton, Technical Manager at City Recital Hall, handled programming, patching, final system design, networking and initial tuning of the new d&b Soundscape system.

The d&b XSL loudspeaker system, integral to this project, was chosen for its directivity and state-of-the-art rider acceptance.

Delivered in an LCR configuration, including four Flown XSLi subwoofers and six d&b 21s subs under the stage. Furthermore, the system was able to enhance directivity control, a crucial capability for the venue’s distinct acoustics.

Rigging, often an intricate part of large installations, was carefully managed. City Recital Hall added new points for the main arrays and all the surrounds, including concrete core drilling to create new penetrations for the centre array hang. In addition, a significant amount of existing cabling was repurposed, with kilometres of new cabling installed throughout the venue.

The compact d&b custom solutions – delivered in white to blend in with the surrounding architecture – provided a 360-degree sound possibility on all three levels of the venue.

The use of discreet d&b Vi7P point source speakers positioned at the stage level ensured the sound remained focused on the performers, not the equipment.

E8 loudspeakers and 44S subwoofers supplemented the Vi7P arrays to achieve full-range coverage. Yi7P arrays were flown as delay speakers or used as fills for the side boxes.

The solution also utilised d&b’s Soundscape system, which is natively integrated with the R1 control software. This allowed for intuitive control and monitoring of the complete loudspeaker setup from one interface.

However, technology is also about the end-user experience, and this integration provides the technical team at City Recital Hall with a familiar and intuitive control interface. Ease of operation was paramount, and the software ensured a seamless experience for audio engineers, even during rapid show turnarounds.

“Our vision is to make City Recital Hall Sydney’s home of live music because we have an amazing acoustic hall that is much admired in the classical world. We chose d&b audiotechnik Soundscape so that we are seen as the best in the field for contemporary artists and to ensure our amplified shows achieve as much acclaim as our acoustic shows,” commented Justin Boschetti, CEO, City Recital Hall. “The system not only gives us amazing front-facing sound but also makes City Recital Hall the only venue in Sydney with 360-degree spatial audio. The reception from artists and audiences has been incredibly positive.”

More than just an upgrade, the new system also helps draw top artists and promoters to City Recital Hall.

“The Soundscape system is a game changer because it supports creative intelligence, enabling artists to ‘play the room’. The venue becomes a musical instrument itself, with the audience being placed inside the artist’s musical vision,” explained Stuart Rogers, Director of Programming, City Recital Hall. “Soundscape enables us to present extremes of artistic breadth, from cutting-edge electronica to folk, rock, and international music, while enabling cathedral-like ethereal immersion.

“I’m excited that musical experiences at City Recital Hall are being changed from a system to relay music, to one where artists can create unique content in a communal integration of art form and audience.”