Emmen, The Netherlands:
Theatergoers in the Netherlands are now being treated to one of the world’s most impressive examples of flexible audio networking. Located in the Northern city of Emmen, the newly-opened Atlas Theater has been equipped with a Dante-based audio network that delivers on the ambition of consultant Steven Kemland, of Theateradvies BV, for “everything to be possible everywhere.” Forming the backbone of the entire solution are Symetrix Radius 12×8 EX digital signal processors.
Officially opened in October 2016, the Atlas Theater is already becoming a cultural nexus in Emmen, with a wealth of technology on hand to ensure flawless performances. Designed by renowned Danish architect Henning Larsen, the Theater boasts an 822-seat main auditorium as well as a smaller 300-seat “black box” theatre and adjoining convention center. All technical integration was done by Ampco-Flashlight Sales, with a no-compromise attitude when selecting the equipment.
Yet nowhere is Kemland’s vision for the Theater more impressive than in the deployment of the vast audio network. Having decided that it should “route audio from any input to any output,” running everything from paging and local BGM source selection, through to special effects and surround sound, the challenge became finding a processing solution with the required versatility and power. The search led to the building block approach of Radius, with Dante connectivity throughout the venue.
“The modularity of Radius means you can expand and adapt as you need to,” explains Ampco-Flashlight Sales project manager, Frans van Houten. “We created three Radius systems, all of which are connected via Dante to one another as well as to every other Dante item in the building.”
Though interconnected, the three systems each focus on specific tasks. One example is audio distribution and the provision of background music across the entire venue, including local volume control and source selection via Symetrix ARC wall panels.
“The big background music system covers the entire building, including dressing rooms, all of the public areas and even the back-of-house offices,” continues van Houten. “The Radius processors are responsible for all audio distribution.” That means everything, from broadcasting performances from either the main auditorium and black box theater to any other part of the building, to supporting the building’s paging, intercom, assistive listening, and digital signage systems.
The black box theater and main auditorium represent their own challenges. “In both of the rooms, the Radius processors are relied upon for routing and processing special effects and surround sound,” says van Houten. In total, the installation combines to form a matrix of 40 inputs and 88 outputs. Despite the system’s flexibility, operation remains simple; Radius allowed the Ampco-Flashlight Sales team to custom design a user interface based on password-protected touchscreens.
It is, concludes van Houten, the final touch in a remarkable system that delivers all of the flexibility the Atlas Theater requires. “The ability to build a customized interface with Radius means you can give the customer access to routing and configuration functions in a really easy, user-friendly way,” he adds. “Symetrix gives you the tools you need to let the client choose how they want their system to work. It’s reliable, it’s user friendly and it’s future-proof.”