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New-build Beijing Performing Arts Centre Features Four L-Acoustics Installations in Stereo and Immersive Configurations

Inaugurated in December last year, the world-class Beijing Performing Arts Centre (BPAC), an extension of the National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA) nestled alongside the Grand Canal, reflects the area’s history through a striking design inspired from the area’s ancient granaries and transport ships. The centre’s innovative architecture encompasses indoor theatres and an outdoor amphitheatre. The venue will host 300 performances and an equal number of art-related activities each year with the mission of attracting younger audiences to contemporary performances.

Leading the way with an L-ISA immersive sound experience

Three of BPAC’s performance spaces boast permanently installed L-ISA configurations using L-Acoustics A Series loudspeakers: the 1,760-seat Opera House, the 500-seat Multi-Function Theatre and the extensive Outdoor Theatre, while the indoor Concert Hall features a stereo L-Acoustics professional PA system. To inaugurate the space, BPAC opened its winter season in style, offering a new immersive audio production of The Canal Ballad, the centuries-old story of the local Grand Canal which highlights the cultural importance of the waterway in connecting the diverse regions of China. “This new way of sound reinforcement completely immerses and surrounds the audience. The sound was so natural that it felt like it was not coming from any visible speakers. In my opinion, L-ISA is leading the way for the future of immersive audio experiences,” says Mr. Hang Hongzhi, Vice Chairman of the China Institute of Stage Design.

No stranger to L-ISA immersive sound, the NCPA had previously delivered immersive audio experiences for two national operas, Minning Town and Daughter of the Party.

For The Canal Ballad production, in the acoustically treated interior architecture of the theatre, the natural sound of the orchestra in the pit would be combined with accurate spatial audio mixing of reinforced speech and vocals. The opera uses a range of styles from classical Chinese to modern American. When it was first performed 12 years ago, the production positioned artists precisely on stage to achieve natural-sounding clarity without sound reinforcement. Over a decade later, the NCPA production team jumped at the chance to present the opera in L-ISA Immersive Hyperreal.

Enhancing the experience through L-ISA 3D spatial mixing

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“An immersive audio experience must be presented in three key aspects, artistic expression, creative positioning in the mix, and 3D spatial audio immersion. The audience would then feel all vocal deliveries in the opera clearly with well-defined localization. We felt that The Canal Ballad opera would be enhanced through the power of L-ISA,” says Wang Lei, NCPA sound engineer.

L-Acoustics Certified Provider Distributor Rightway Audio Consultants (RAC) designed and permanently installed the L-ISA configuration which envelops the Opera House using almost 150 L-Acoustics speakers, all of which are hidden in the décor. The main 7.1 Scene System boasts seven hangs of L-Acoustics A Series, the five central hangs using three A15 Focus and two A15 Wide, while the outer extension hangs use three A15 Focus atop one A15 Wide. Two center-flown hangs of three KS28 subwoofers provide low-end definition. Thirteen compact 5XT boxes are in the stage lip for spatial front-fill, and ten further 5XT provide monitoring to the orchestra pit. Fifty X8 speakers are placed around the sides of the walls on two levels to provide surround sound to the main floor and two balcony levels, while six ceiling-mounted X15 provide overhead sound. Performers relied on X12 and X15 HiQ monitors and a hidden Syva in each wing for precise on-stage monitoring. The system is driven by 12 LA12X, 25 LA4X and four LA2Xi amplified controllers.

The team at RAC leaned on the L-Acoustics P1 processor and M1 software measurement tools to optimize the immersive audio speaker installation. For The Canal Ballad, each of the dozens of performers were equipped with a BlackTrax tracking sensor which allowed the L-ISA Controller to automatically localize them in the 3D mix.

Hang Hongzhi, Vice Chairman of the China Institute of Stage Design, reflected that, “everything was perfect in the show. The actors, performers and stage design, backed by the sound of L-ISA immersive technology created a refreshing rendition of The Canal Ballad.”

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