The Czech Republic’s fourth largest city, Pilsen is a bustling region renowned for its Pilsner Urquell Brewery and for being the birthplace of the Škoda automobile company. It was named 2015 European Capital of Culture, a testament to the region’s status as an artistic hub for culture and art. The JK Tyl Theatre (Josef Kajetán Tyl Theatre), the city’s largest professional theatre, and an important regional cultural centre. Its remarkable façade—a distinctive city landmark, nicknamed ‘Swiss cheese’ by locals—is crafted from cast cement with 28 irregular bubbles, symbolizing the theatre’s grand stage curtain. The theatre is divided into two primary buildings – the Great Theatre and the New Theatre – purposefully designed to accommodate four main genres of theatre craft: operas, dramas, musicals, and ballets.
Providing the ideal setting for cutting-edge, technologically advanced performances, The New Theatre holds up to 460 spectators. To meet the demand of the varied performances that it hosts, theatre management sought an equally flexible audio system for the New Theatre, finally choosing to install the first permanent L-Acoustics Ambiance Acoustic System in Europe. L-Acoustics Czech distributor, ProMusic, was selected to provide a versatile acoustic toolkit to elevate the sonic experience for the audience.
The New Theatre’s team recognised the importance of providing optimal acoustics for a diverse range of performances, including unamplified concerts such as string quartets. To achieve this goal, they sought a solution that would allow for greater flexibility in sound perception and ensure ideal room acoustics for both performers and audience. As changeover times between shows are limited, instantaneous variable acoustics were a crucial element in their choice.
To address this, The New Theatre’s Technical Manager, Igor Staškovič and the venue team partnered with Daniel Krčmář of ProMusic to enhance the theatre’s acoustics using the L-Acoustics Ambiance Acoustic System.
With Ambiance, the team can now increase the reverberation time from 0.95s up to 2.0s with the simple press of a button on the L-ISA Controller. This allows them to activate the appropriate Ambiance pre-tuned configuration for orchestral music, opera or theatre production, delivering the ideal room sensation for each scenario. Implementing the system ensures greater intelligibility and stunning, natural sound for unamplified concerts, enhancing the overall experience for both the performers and the audience.
“Ambiance represents the cutting-edge of active acoustics, offering a unique combination of premium acoustics and immersive audio realism,” explains Julien Laval, Application Project Manager at L-Acoustics. “The Ambiance Acoustic System features an immersive loudspeaker design that requires both surround and overheads to create a proper acoustic field, providing a rich and immersive audio experience. The loudspeaker and microphone systems are designed using Soundvision, L-Acoustics 3D-mapping design software, ensuring the system is tailored to fit the geometry and volume of the room.”
Ambiance uses an array of strategically placed microphones to capture the existing acoustical energy of the venue and processes the signals through the L-ISA Room Engine built within the L-ISA Processor II. The L-ISA 3D audio reverberation leverages the powerful DSP resources within the L-ISA Processor II through a cross-functional approach. It gives the power to shape the venue’s acoustic identity, crafting Ambiance Signatures by finely adjusting three key types of reflections.
Each Ambiance pre-set or “signature” is designed to meet the performance requirements of the venue, from simple acoustic enhancement to high-performance immersive hyperreal productions. Ambiance and L-ISA can operate independently or be combined to create endless sonic possibilities, allowing for maximum flexibility in system design. Six Ambiance Signatures enable the end user to find the best match for the various event types. Residual noise is minimised as much as possible during pure acoustics concerts.
The L-ISA system consists of 71 loudspeakers in total. In the main audience area of the theatre, the flown L-ISA Scene system comprises five arrays of two A10i Focus and two A10i Wide each, with two further extension arrays of A10i (Wide and Focus) flanking the stage. Spatial front-fill is provided by 5XT across the stage lip while 19 X8 are dotted around the theatre for surrounds and overheads. KS21i subs provide low-end extension. For the Ambiance Acoustic system, the setup includes 12 omni and cardioid microphones; eight omni microphones placed at front of house, above the audience, and four cardioid microphones above the performers. LA4X and LA2Xi amplifiers drive the whole system. The result is perfect coverage, excellent intelligibility, and sufficient power reserve for any type of performance.
“Concertgoers can now look forward to an exceptional audio experience at the theatre, thanks to L-ISA Ambiance,” adds Laval. “This innovative system enables the theatre’s acoustics to be tailored precisely to the specific genre and work being performed. As a result, visitors to the theatre can expect outstanding acoustics for a range of performances, including drama, opera, musicals, and ballet, as well as large-scale philharmonic or symphonic concerts.”
The New Theatre’s cutting-edge sound system has garnered praise from both local and international theatre groups, making it a highly coveted venue for various productions. The seamless integration of live orchestral performances with exceptional acoustics creates a captivating and immersive experience.
“The new system ensures that each individual artist on stage can be heard with clarity and precision from their corresponding location, creating a seamless audio-visual experience for the audience,” says ProMusic engineer and certified trainer Petr Šťásek. “Through the built-in reverberation system, the listener is surrounded by sound, providing a sense of complete immersion in the performance.”
Theatre director Martin Otava aptly summarises the system’s benefits, noting that it provides a unique and unmatched listening experience for audiences at The New Theatre. “The exceptional feature of the system lies in its ability to function seamlessly with artists, with or without direct sound reinforcement,” he explains. “The built-in reverberation system creates a truly immersive experience, enveloping the audience in sound from both the stage and auditorium. The system’s greatest advantage is its ability to produce entirely natural sound, allowing the listener to feel completely integrated with the action on stage without any artificial sound effects.”
The system also brings the possibility of easily creating various sound effects, “for example, we can create the illusion that the ghost of Hamlet’s father is walking around the audience without changing the colour or level of his voice,” Otava adds.
“We’re thrilled to see both ProMusic and the theatre embracing the possibilities of L-ISA Immersive sound and Ambiance technology,” concludes Laval. “The combination has helped The New Theatre solidify its position as a leading destination for theatre productions, offering state-of-the-art sound quality and unparalleled facilities. We look forward to seeing how the L-Acoustics Ambiance Acoustic System enhances the overall atmosphere of the theatre, creating a truly unforgettable experience for all who visit!”