Designated as the country’s official capital in 1997, Astana is Kazakhstan’s second largest city, and it has experienced a boom in development in recent years, with millions invested in parks, government buildings, and cultural centers.
One of the most impressive of the city’s newest structures is Astana State Auditorium, a striking structure that has been labeled the “Flower of the Steppe” for its petal-like walls that enclose an indoor plaza that is home to restaurants, shops, exhibition halls, two cinemas, and a 3,500-seat auditorium that is one of the largest of its kind in the world.
The auditorium’s unique fan shaped wood ceiling panels create a flexible acoustic signature that can accommodate a wide variety of events, from classical music to rock, pop, cinema, and spoken word. As Alessandro Baroni of A&T Media explains, the project was not without its challenges.
“The most important consideration was to achieve a consistent sound coverage across the entire auditorium,” says Baroni. “It’s a very unique design, with multiple levels of seating and an upper balcony that wraps around behind the stage area. The sound system needed to be flexible to adapt to a wide range of performnce material and a wide range of seating configurations.”
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The system comprises a main array of 16 Renkus-Heinz PN102LR line array loudspeakers, along with a secondary array of five more PN102LR boxes to cover the upper balcony behind the stage. A center cluster of nine PN212 subwoofers provides ample low frequency reinforcement, and four ST9 cabinets cover lateral fill.
The very front rows are covered by seven SGGX42 boxes mounted on the lip of the stage. For even more versatility, the main array can be hoisted up into the ceiling when not in use, and a second complete system comprising 12 IC Live ICL-R digitally steered column arrays on custom brackets can be put into play.
“The Renkus-Heinz systems were a good choice for this project, because the beam steering and built in DSP enabled us to configure the system to cover all the seating, at multiple levels and locations,” Baroni notes.
A pair of Yamaha M7CL-48 consoles were installed at front of house and stageside monitor positions, with four Symetrix Solus 8 units handling system DSP. The system is networked with EtherSound, RHAON, and CobraNet.
Not surprisingly, the project also included some logistical challenges. “Of course, it was a challenge to be working in Astana, 6000 km (3,700 miles) away from our headquarters in Italy,” Baroni concludes. “And the winter climate was very severe. And with such a big project, the scheduling and coordinating of different phases and crews is always a bit difficult. But we worked it all out in the end, and the result is nothing short of fantastic.”