The spectacular 17th Century Teatro Municipale in Italy’s Piacenza reopened its doors with a stunning rendition of Verdi’s Requiem. Directed by famous tenor Placido Domingo and performed by the Arturo Toscanini Philharmonic orchestra and City Theatre Choir, the concert was live streamed utilising a KLANG:fabrik unit to deliver an exceptional 3D audio mix of the performance to those unable to attend.
Traditionally used for in-ear monitoring, KLANG systems have recently found favour with productions seeking to live stream spacial audio mixes for the creation of engaging and immersive listening experiences.
Federico Bianchi, audio engineer and KLANG specialist for Italian distributor AudioLink, was approached by the theatre’s technical partner Acid Studio, to work on the mix for the live stream of this special event.
“From the very beginning, I proposed an immersive audio solution,” he recalls. “Recently, many events have been streamed and the opportunity to offer listeners a different, more suggestive and qualitatively superior experience was an idea that I immediately married with this production.”
“There are various systems on the market for immersive audio, but KLANG is the one with the highest quality and algorithms, and it has an easy to use, intuitive interface,” he continues. “Although it was designed to be used as a monitoring system for musicians on stage, the ‘magic box’ is just as easy to use and functional for an immersive mix for the audience. This allows the listener at home to feel more involved, thanks to the ability to reproduce the acoustics of the theatre and give a real perception of the instruments and their true positions.”
The theatre setup presented a range of challenges related to Italy’s current social distancing restrictions, with extra space required between the performers. As a result, placement of musicians was widely spread, with some on stage, others in the first section of the house, and the choir setup in the back of the stage- a long way from the director, making traditional group microphone placement difficult.
“I tried to capture each individual instrument in the most detailed and precise way, aiming to maintain and preserve the overall sound, which is essential to ensure a natural and realistic result,” says Bianchi.
Around 60 microphones were used for the orchestra, choir and singers, and various microphones were placed around the venue to capture ambience and reverberation, with all inputs going to a DiGiCo SD9 connected to two D2 Racks.
In contrast to the challenges in the theatre, the setup for the KLANG:fabrik was simple. “The user interface and software are so powerful,” says Bianchi. “I setup an initial mix while the show itself was being setup, using my previous experiences as a starting point. Then, after a standard soundcheck, I checked positions and made only a few little adjustments to get a realistic mix. During the performance I’ve only moved a few things, following the musical arrangement and trying to focus listeners to specific parts. It was easy!”
Monitoring busses were used only for the choir, the orchestra and the singers, which was necessary given the distances between the performers, with Bianchi sending groups and channels from the SD9 via MADI to the KLANG:fabrik. The output from KLANG was returned to the desk, allowing him to perform a quick A/B comparison between 3D and stereo and still have an easy and fast way to manage monitoring and streaming in his control room.
“I tried to enhance the real positions of the various elements by adding some ambient microphones to recreate a proper acoustic environment,” he reports. “The quality of the immersive mix was immediately appreciated for the naturalness of listening and the definition and intelligibility of each individual instrument. I had only an afternoon to test and optimize everything in the mix, and already after the first hour the result was exceptional, allowing me the remaining time to focus and take care of the smallest details. It was very relaxed.”
“This makes KLANG an excellent instrument for this type of application,” he concludes. “During the rehearsals and the event, I was able to do listening tests from the streaming platform and from the desk on different media: various headphones models, studio monitors and computer speakers. There was a superior result in every situation.”
Listen to the Verdi Requiem live stream: