When the historic Threepenny Opera began preparation for its return to the stage where it originally debuted, it was clear that the existing sound system in the theater’s largest hall needed expansion. And so, the Berliner Ensemble installed a d&b Soundscape and A-Series system (opens in new tab). This upgrade delivered a powerful, transparent sound system complete with the ability to precisely localize sound sources, elevating not only the experience of Threepenny but for all styles of productions for years to come.
With a history of over 125 years, the Berliner Ensemble is one of the most traditional long-standing German theaters. Established in 1948 in East Berlin, the renowned theatre often holds 15 performances a month ranging from German-language classics to contemporary works.
[Why an Indie Rock Back Chose d&b audiotechnik for... Less Noise?] (opens in new tab)
The need for a new sound system originated from the Berliner’s production of Threepenny Opera, directed by Barrie Kosky. The show, which originally premiered in 1928 at the Berliner Ensemble, now required the largest hall’s existing sound system to be considerably expanded.
The production company MMT-TLV, based in Tel Aviv, was responsible for the new sound reinforcement concept. Managing director at MMT Network GmbH, Ralf Bauer-Diefenbach, collaborated with sound designer and certified sound engineer Holger Schwark for the installation in the Berliner Ensemble with Elektroakustik Neuenhagen GmbH supplying the new d&b system.
d&b’s Soundscape and A-Series installation provides powerful enhancements, upgrading the hall’s technology while ensuring the sound of the opera could be enjoyed by each member of the audience, regardless of where they are sitting.
[How d&b Loudspeakers Bring Immersive Experiences for Experimental Artists] (opens in new tab)
"The legendary venue needed a system that would not only be flexible enough to accommodate various performance styles, but truly enhance the connection between performer and audience member," commented Maik Voss, head of scenic and audiovisual media technology at the Berliner Ensemble. "Once we heard the magic of Soundscape we knew it was the perfect fit."
The installation consists of A-Series hangs, complemented by four d&b 4S point source loudspeakers installed along the front edge of the stage. The largest hall holds double clusters of d&b C7s, each with a subwoofer flown at the far end of the expansive stage area in the direction of the audience, along with numerous E12s across the walls as aisle monitors. Additionally, a d&b DS100 Signal Engine is housed in a 19-inch rack as the Soundscape centerpiece.
The installation of A-Series loudspeakers improves the localization for the front rows of the audience and serves as monitoring for the orchestra musicians sitting in the pit.
The entire installation is a reflection of d&b’s philosophy, ‘Democracy for Listeners’. By optimizing tonal balance and level distribution, the system is designed to provide every member in the audience indiscriminately with an equal audio experience over the entire area.
"Many audience members often don't even realize that they are being subjected to electroacoustic sound," said Voss. "The use of d&b Soundscape makes the sound seem completely natural—visitors always locate the voices exactly where the action is happening on stage."
[SCN: The Audio Issue 2022] (opens in new tab)
d&b Soundscape provides audiences with an immersive audio platform that shapes deep and intense connections between listeners and artists, allowing for object-based mixing as well as enabling localization and imaging of sound objects within the chosen sound design field.
"We deliberately use Soundscape at the Berliner Ensemble in conjunction with the room acoustics that are present in the hall and that we have optimized," emphasized Bauer-Diefenbach. "It would be wrong to orient ourselves exclusively to the distribution of direct sound. In my opinion, a truly convincing sound is only possible when the sound of the orchestra or the first reflections from the pit are included in the considerations."
For each scene of the Threepenny Opera, sound designer Holger Schwark created a comprehensive snapshot of object positioning using En-Scene. This software allows the individual placement and movement of up to 64 sound objects so that each sound object corresponds both visually and acoustically. In addition, the automation software En-Snap is utilized, this program was designed alongside Gareth Owen, and enables a straightforward cue-based control within the d&b Soundscape environment, connecting directly to the d&b DS100 Signal Engine.
[AV Network's top stories, product news, and expert insights] (opens in new tab)
“We have already seen a huge difference in our sound,” explained Voss. “This installation will allow a larger audience to appreciate productions at the ensemble for years to come.”
With d&b, the current production of the Threepenny Opera will enrich the Berliner Ensemble's repertoire, not only that the team has committed to utilizing Soundscape as the production tours various locations, not only in Germany but beyond.