Major Finnish concert venue, TV and recording studio, Musiikkitalo (Helsinki Music Center), has upgraded its existing Optocore infrastructure with the addition of an AutoRouter intelligent patchbay. This has provided the venue with greater flexibility by freeing up its DiGiCo SD8 at FOH to take on a more portable role within the large complex.
Although the venue originally opened in 2011 as a 1,700-capacity concert space, it undertook a system upgrade in 2017, when an Optocore network was introduced for the first time. “The original design became overloaded and it was too awkward to add anything—and so we added a couple of [Optocore] DD32FRs for signal distribution to the amps and SD racks, and added Optocore to the DiGiCo FOH mixer,” stated Head of Studio, Jori Tossavainen.
Once again, the Optocore equipment was supplied by distributor, Intersonic. “We have supplied the bulk of the audio equipment for Helsinki Music Center from day one so we’re very familiar with them,” stated Intersonic sales manager, Pauli Molnar. “Optocore is a very popular high-end professional networking solution in Finland so we did have some experience with the brand even before taking over the distribution.”
Optocore had again been foremost in the minds of Jori Tossavainen and the venue’s Head of Sound, Kirsi Peteri, who in addition to the main concert hall oversees five satellite rooms at Musiikkitalo. At the same time, his colleague Teemu Hammaren, Head of Video and Technical Director for Broadcast, manages a full TV broadcast and recording studio at the venue.
Kirsi and Jori prepared the specification and upgrade, while assisting with the configuration was Intersonic’s technical specialist, Pekka Patrikainen.
AutoRouter had been essential to the upgrade, confirmed Tossavainen. It is perfectly suited for installations with multiple connection points and mobile stage boxes as well as live events—as is the case at Musiikkitalo.
Compatible with stand-alone Optocore networks and DiGiCo fibre loops, the same functionality is also available for Yamaha TWINLANe cards and AVID AVB network cards, allowing smarter theatre sound systems to be designed using flagship consoles.
“With this upgrade we decided to release the old [DiGiCo] SD8 from its FOH position, and deploy it as a portable unit within its own flightcase (and as a monitor desk),” continued Jori Tossavainen. “At the same time we went to the digital split, so we could also free up an SD rack which could move alongside the SD8. These are now used all over the house, and are connected by the AutoRouter to the main system.”
But AutoRouter wasn’t alone in Musiikkitalo’s shopping list. They also added a pair of Optocore M8 MADI devices as well as a new DiGiCo Q338 console with an Optocore loop at FOH, replacing the former SD8. On the broadcast and recording side, the previous Studer consoles were replaced by three Lawo mc² 56 consoles for the control rooms over a Ravenna network and Merging Technologies’ Anubis and Horus interfaces. The overall budget for the upgrade was around €700,000.
As for the M8s, stage mics are split to Optocore via MADI from the Horuses, while Musiikkitalo also has a link between the DirectOut M.1K2 MADI matrix and the Optocore. “This is essential in order to have the same signals over the Optocore network. We now have all the signals to the FOH and monitor mixers, and if needed they are present at the video control room’s [DiGiCo] SD11.”
As a result of the Optocore deployment, changeover times between productions have been reduced—which is vital given the scale of some of the productions.
“As we are a huge building, the distances between the various production locations are long. Optocore will work even over such distances and needs to be reliable; with complex connections, if something doesn’t work it will cost a lot of working hours. We can now get all the signals shared more flexibly and efficiently—since we operate on seven different networks simultaneously, Optocore being one of them.”
In summary, Jori Tossavainen states, “We have now reached the point with this system that we should have been at from the opening day. We have a good signal distribution between consoles, and a digital split, and a multipurpose use for the old SD8 is something we have always missed.”