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SWE: Malmö Comes aLive With d&b audiotechnik

The Malmö Live complex is a stunning architectural vision, a clean cut combination of angled glass and concrete that houses a congress centre, a five star hotel, two restaurants, a bar with views across the city, a flexible performance space known as the Cube and a main concert hall, home to the Malmö Symphony Orchestra. Nominated for Sweden’s most prestigious architectural award, the Kasper Salin Prize, the building is fast becoming a new hub of cultural excellence despite being open only a matter of months.

The concert hall forms the centrepiece of the complex. With a capacity of sixteen hundred, the venue’s use of oak and brass is in complete contrast to the complex’s bold construction of concrete, stone and glass, as Kristian Ahlmark, senior partner for architects Schmidt Hammer Lassen, comments: “We wanted to achieve two things: an absolutely world class sound and a room with a musicality that works with the music, like sitting inside an instrument. The result is a composition of cubic elements. Each surface has a function, angle and size that supports the acoustics. Light is integrated into the walls so the mood can be changed depending on what is being performed in the hall.”

The audio installation for both the concert hall and the smaller Cube venue were put out to a public procurement tender. From more than half a dozen submissions, Arva Trading AB beat off the competition to secure the project. Technical manager, Ronny Sjöstrand adds the detail: “The tender documents demanded a very high technical standard. We supplied an EASE simulation of the concert hall with specification for SPL, STI value and equivalent SPL, frequency and STI on every one of the sixteen hundred seats. Our submission was to install a d&b audiotechnik system of primarily Vi loudspeakers with T10 and Yi for the delay system. T10s with V-GSUBs were also specified for the Cube room. The total project also included sound installation for other parts of this huge complex, which has been described as ‘a city within a city’; it stretches to 54,000m2. For Arva it represents a total of eight months planning and installation work.”

Malmo Opera SE 2015 (04)Despite the concert hall being home to the Malmö Symphony Orchestra, the d&b installation had to be designed for a much broader range of musical performance, from orchestral pieces to heavy metal rock – indeed the opening concert featured both these genres. Once the contract was secured, Sjöstrand consulted with Jonas Wagner and Boris Rehders from d&b Application Support.

“Although this is a purpose built room, there were still areas that required some imaginative solutions to ensure even coverage throughout the hall,” explains Wagner. “On the first floor balconies both behind and left and right of the stage, we mounted 8S loudspeakers recessed into the ceiling of the balconies. Aside from the aesthetic impact for FoH, where they are installed behind the stage, the speakers can be used as monitors for the choir platform when required. A rather unique solution but one that worked perfectly here.”

The hall, at forty five metres long, twenty three metres wide and twenty metres high is almost twice as long as it is wide making the support of the Yi delay system a most important facet of the sound design. Yi12s were used for the second balcony and Yi8s for fills while T10s were employed at the front of the stage and for the side balcony delays. High power D80 amplifiers were used to drive the main arrays of Vi8 and Vi12 loudspeakers; the 10D amplifier, specifically designed for permanent installations was the choice to drive the fills and delays.

The complexity of the installation was helped by the deployment of the new d&b DS10 Audio network bridge, which offers an interface between Dante and the AES3 digital inputs of d&b amplifiers while also providing distribution of Ethernet control data. Each unit is able to provide up to sixteen AES3 output channels via the Dante audio transport protocol through Ethernet, allowing for a significant reduction in cabling requirements as a large analog multicore is not required, therefore producing a reduction in time and cost as well as the impact on the building’s infrastructure.

“Here at Arva, as Sweden’s exclusive distributor for d&b audiotechnik, we are used to embarking on high profile projects,” concludes Sjöstrand, “but Malmö Live is a very special venue. We are especially happy that both the consulting company and the concert house are so pleased with the result.”