Audio Plus undertake sophisticated AV installation in Bielsko-Biala

Poland’s new Cavatina Hall, which opened at the beginning of the year in the city of Bielsko-Biała, is the first concert hall in the country to be built and managed entirely from private funds.

This unique multi-functional building, combining office and cultural spaces, is set over six storeys on more than 9,000 square metres and includes a cutting-edge recording studio as well as a 1,000-seat concert hall.

Its state-of-the-art AV infrastructure is woven into a sophisticated digital/analogue network, designed around an Optocore backbone, feeding a multiplicity of signals to an L-Acoustics L-ISA Immersive Hyperreal sound system from a pair of roving DiGiCo Quantum 338 consoles, operating from four different locations.

These were specified and delivered by system integrators Audio Plus, along with the latest stage mechanics and audio-visual technologies, including sound and light tracking, variable acoustics and visual information systems.

Audio Plus were heavily involved from the outset to help deliver one of the best facilities of its kind in the world—and one of the key features was the successful distribution of signals between the FOH stations to the stage, the recording studio and third-party OB vans. This has been carried out using integrated Optocore digital network devices and third-party converters, which can handle up to 1,856 digital signals.

While the analogue signals delivered to the consoles have already passed through a 96-channel analogue splitter, deployment of the Optocore devices enables a further 96 analogue signals to be processed via more than 40 connection boxes. This creates maximum versatility, enabling a myriad of different signals to be transported to any destination, including the many different platforms to OB vans for broadcast and recording.

Audio Plus Contract Manager and Engineer Tomasz Ibrom explains that it had been a no-brainer to specify Optocore to help achieve such a nimble and agile solution. “We have never experienced any problems with Optocore devices,” he says. “They do exactly what they are designed to do, and this is what we expect from devices in professional audio. Also, the technical and sales support we receive is always of the highest level. It was a natural choice, particularly once we had selected DiGiCo desks.”

He highlighted the obvious advantages of a fibre solution, including retention of signal integrity over distance, the security of redundancy, low latency and channel capacity. “And on top of that,” continues Tomasz, “fibre is free of electromagnetic interferences, and enables us to transmit all type of data.”

His design is based around Optocore M8-OPT and M12-OPT MADI switches—the former converting the Optocore loop to MADI and the latter used as a stand-alone MADI matrix in the fifth floor amplification room. In addition, six X6R-FX-16MI and a X6R-FX-16LO take feeds from the consoles, enabling the desk to handle 96 mic input channels.

The Audio Plus engineer explains the rationale. “With flexibility the key to the project, all the digital and analogue connections are terminated on patch panels in the amplification room … optic, concentric, CAT6, and analogue.” The destination boxes are located not only on stage but also in booths, auditorium, hanging bats, foyer, patio, recording studio, backstage and the garage for the broadcast vehicles.

“Signals can be connected in many different ways,” he continues. “Of course, not all possible channels are in use at the same time, but using the system (after reconfiguration) we can for example, split analogue signals for broadcast or the recording studio and connect any digital desk that exists on the market, using Dante, AES50, MADI, Optocore, AVB etc. We can also do a number of other things: record concerts using analogue or digital signals, after passing through Optocore A/D conversion; place a musician in the Piano Room (part of the recording studio) and transmit signals to the concert hall. Finally, we can transmit audio and video from the concert hall to the outside patio.”

Throughout the installation process and at subsequent events the Optocore platform has remained rock solid. “Take the devices out of the box and they just work,” he exclaims. “If you understand the Optocore philosophy you can always trust them 100% to be stable. They are easy to configure and work perfectly with DiGiCo.

“In fact, during the six months that the venue has been in intense operation, hosting between one and three concerts every week”, he says proudly, “Audio Plus has not been called out once for service.”

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