The 3,723-seat main auditorium at the Palais des Congrès de Paris performing arts and convention center averages 150 shows each year, including ballets, operas, symphonies and pop concerts that are now served by a new Solid State Logic (SSL) Live L500 digital console selected by the venue’s 3-person audio team.
“The challenge for us is having a sound system that satisfies the size and functionality requests of our clients,” explains the Palais des Congrès sound team, Laurent Maury, Sylvain Demay and Thomas Guardenti. “In the main auditorium, we three sound managers are responsible for the sound system and all related audio activities, whether doing our own mixing or assisting guest engineers. So we need to make sure that we have the highest quality products in order to satisfy everybody well into the future. Finally, after two years of research, we chose the SSL Live.”
Used for all conferences and concerts, including those with connections to external services such as television productions and uplinks for corporate events, the SSL Live was installed to integrate with the venue’s existing audio infrastructure.
The room’s fan-shaped seating has no balcony and its mix position is 27 meters (88 feet) from the stage, behind a mid-house cross aisle. Coverage is supplied by flown left and right arrays of L-Acoustic V-DOSC with dV-DOSC down fills, a KARA center cluster, ARCS floor fills, MTD108 and KIVA front fills and SB28 subwoofers.
Backstage, two 32 x 32 5U SSL stage boxes, totaling 96 channels (including the 32 console inputs), are redundantly connected via co-axial MADI to an SSL Blacklight II MADI concentrator that connects them to the front of house mix position via a single multimode fiber per side.
“Even though we’re always in the same theatre, working at the Palais des Congrès is like being on tour because of our constant exposure to different engineering and mixing approaches,” adds Demay. “So it was the important for us to buy a desk that is known around the world. The SSL Off Line Setup Application (SOLSA) on the console has proven to be an especially important element for us. It ensures that guest engineers can familiarize themselves with the console and organize their session before they arrive.”
The team credits the variety of software features available on the L500 as a primary reason for selecting the console. “The Layer Manager is a fantastic tool that is easy to use and really helpful to organize the surface the way we want,” Maury notes. “Visiting engineers are immediately comfortable organizing inputs and outputs on their fader tiles’ layers and banks to suit their production. Being able to add any input or output without noise or any problem while the show is running is also impressive, and being able to rearrange the surface at any moment is great.”
Guardenti points out that the AutoMix and Dynamic-EQ insert tools are also useful to have on board, and that the flexible workflow has been important. “The three of us each has his own preferences and approach, so the combination of touch screens and encoders allows everybody to work as they wish,” explains Demay. “What’s more, the SSL Live sounds really outstanding.”