As eighties theatre venues go, Salle Albert Rousseau has weathered the ravages of time better than most.
It has been well cared for by the citizens of Quebec city, Quebec, Canada and despite self-imposed changes from being principally a classical music venue to the more contemporary multi-purpose centre, it has lost none of its charm or character.
Recent revamps have seen the house sound system totally replaced and the stage entirely remodeled to accommodate current trends. Steering that remodeling was the audio consultant Alexandre Forgues of 20k inc., a man who more than most, had reason to inject some sentimentality into the project.
“I started my career as a system engineer and had visited the theatre many times; I know it well and have a great fondness for the room. On several occasions I had taken in a d&b audiotechnik system from Axion (now part of Solotech), a rental company that used to be based in Quebec.”
“The house had always liked the sound of d&b equipment so when I established my consulting company 20k some years later and was asked to design a system installation it was natural that I would look at the d&b range to replace their old PA.”
Forgues was fortunate in being familiar with the venue as the acoustics present some problems, “Having been originally designed for classical concerts the room has many issues for sound reinforcement with much reflection and bounce.”
“The new system has been in since last September and we will be implementing in May 2011 the acoustic modifications I have recommended. The balcony lips will have absorbent acoustic panels added, and we will re-position the acoustic reflectors across the top of the stage.”
“Removing these traditional orchestral reflectors would have been too expensive as aesthetically they conceal the ceiling void, but a change in angle makes all the difference to the listening environment.”
The system 20k has designed consists of Qi-Series loudspeakers; Qi10, Qi1 and Q subwoofers flown left right, with E6 loudspeakers mounted to the proscenium walls as fills to the boxes at the sides, and again as front fills to the stalls.
“Unlike the old system which was very large, black and visually intrusive, we have had d&b color match the fills to the walls, and further work has now been completed to the stage lip so the front fills are built in. The main left right system is tiny compared to what was there before.” And how does the system sound?
“Since the theatre re-opened visiting engineers have been really happy. We asked if there was any tuning to the system EQ they would like modified and in eight months the only request has been to ‘leave it exactly as it is’.”
The Pixies sound engineer, Ray Furze, was a typical example, “We played there only last night and when I saw the Q system in there I decided immediately that we could leave our rented d&b J-Series on the truck.”
“I have a lot of experience with d&b and other makes and found this installation to be well chosen, properly implemented, and tuned just how I like it.”
“The horizontal array of B2-SUBs is especially nice, in conjunction with the flown Q-SUBs the two elements are set to negate any low end hotspots in the room, something I really appreciate with a high energy band like the Pixies.”
In the end 20k provided a complete system re-vamp to the theatre, as well as the new PA they also specified a Yamaha M7CL desk, “a simple standard for many users,” and d&b M4 wedges with a mobile rack of D12 amplifiers, “an incredible wedge for its size and such a sweet sound, vocal clarity has to be heard to be believed,” said Forgues.
“And above it all we have implemented a Crestron control system that as well as controlling the house and stage lights, also has presets for controlling sound when the venue is used for such things as comedy nights, and similar simple cabaret style presentations.”
“The PA system is so predictable you could almost leave it unattended for such an entertainment.”