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‘Audio for us is a compositional tool’: Royal Opera House installs SSL sound system

The newly redesigned Linbury Theatre has been upgraded with an SSL L500 Plus Console

The Royal Opera House recently went through a comprehensive refurbishment to improve its facilities, including redesigning the Linbury Theatre and the subsequent installation of a Solid State Logic L500 Plus console.

The £50m Open Up refurbishment project also created a new café and improved restaurant and shop.

The ROH has an immersive live to cinema department, and a broadcast team, whilst the Linbury Theatre is renowned for its chamber work for opera and dance and live orchestral performances. 

Martin Adams and the in-house technical team have upgraded the space, providing a SSL L500 Plus console with a Dante AoIP infrastructure. The idea of a Dante solution really appealed to Adams and his team.

Adams explained why they chose SSL: “The fact that a Dante infrastructure is built directly into the SSL L500 Plus was very interesting to us. It’s the AoIP that you want – firstly, not to intrude on how you work; and secondly, once you have done an initial setup, you’ve kind of done the work, and everything else becomes easier. This also means making the system larger becomes very simple in the future.

“Audio for us in the ROH is not a form of amplification, it’s a compositional tool. A composer comes in and looks at the audio system exactly like that and that sets us apart from how people use audio in theatrical spaces; the console becomes part of the artistic input of the show.” 

The shows in the Linbury Theatre are quite varied: they might run two-channel playback with Q-Lab on one day and have a 20-piece orchestra to contend with the next, often with a 60-piece virtual orchestra behind it. This is where the L500’s stem architecture comes in handy.

Adams elaborated: “We really love that about the SSL; we operate it when we do high channel count shows. Controlling 100-plus inputs can quickly become confusing, but using the stem architecture, you can break down an orchestra very nicely, and very simply, in a live environment.”

Another reason Adams wanted to go with an SSL system was the quality of audio. “At this level, the sonics are very, very important; and when listening to the L500 Plus against other devices, there was simply no contest.”