Genelec’s solutions impress in Stockholm concert hall

When the directors of Stockholm’s prestigious music school, Lilla Akademien, set about building a new concert hall, their mission was to create a flexible venue, serving as a small performance space for professional live music concerts, a rehearsal room for the music school’s students, and an inspiring setting for creative learning.

The result was a stunning auditorium, with a harmonious blend of architecture, technology and lighting – thanks to a sound system from Genelec, integrated by Informationsteknik.

Marcus Haraldsson Boij, technical director of the Informationsteknik team explained the challenges: “This is one of the most complex projects I have been involved in. The combination of a centrally located stage, the long reverberation time of acoustic classical music – and a design requirement to minimise the number of visible loudspeakers – made it very interesting from an acoustic design point of view!”

“We needed to distribute high-quality sound close to the audience without it playing louder than the reverb. Without a traditional ‘left/right’ stage and with the audience seated at three different levels surrounding the orchestra, it demanded a different way of thinking – and while I wanted more speakers, it simply wasn’t possible given the design of the Hall,” he continued.

To limit the amount of sound bouncing around the room, it was important to reduce the volume from the loudspeakers and Genelec’s Smart IP range of networked models, with their excellent audio performance and clarity, was an obvious choice.

The team at Informationsteknik subsequently specified twenty-two Smart IP 4420 models and four 4430s. Painted in RAL 1036 gold, the 4430s were the only visible loudspeakers of the entire installation. Two pairs were suspended below the first-level balcony, blending harmoniously with the décor. Additional pairs of the compact 4420s were installed every few metres across each section of the curved wall in between the windows, cleverly hidden in specially insulated recessed boxes.

“We knew that with the way the walls were constructed, and the design requirements imposed upon us, pulling cables was going to be a problem,” noted Boij. “Consequently, the Smart IP active loudspeaker family was the perfect choice since this avoided having to worry about housing external amplifiers – and Smart IP’s single cable technology made cabling MUCH easier. It was a great solution for us.”

For Lilla Akademien, it was essential that the Hall could meet the dual demands of classical music tradition and the music of tomorrow. Not only did the active design of Genelec loudspeakers eliminate the need for external amplifiers, but providing multichannel sound over the Dante network was an unexpected bonus for the school’s students.

Mark Tatlow, Lilla Akademien’s Artistic Advisor, was thrilled with the results: “Using a digital audio workstation, our composition students can connect to the Hall and create pieces by combining the live acoustics of the Concert Hall with electronic sounds or music. The network allows discrete control of each loudspeaker to move sound around the room, and the design of the Hall itself encourages students to take the next step in their music making – the possibilities are huge.”