Swiss Acoustics

Swiss Acoustics
  • MONTREUX, SWITZERLAND--Ah Montreux, the majestic Alps, the sparkling Lake Geneva, and of course home to one of the world's largest music festivals. Every year in July, for a little more than two weeks, this small town that was once the refuge of wealthy Englishman for holiday, is transformed into the music capital of the world. Acts as diverse as Chick Corea and the Beastie Boys converge here to play their latest and capture the attention of locals and outsiders alike.

The Stravinsky Auditorium at the Montreux Jazz Festival.
The festival centers around two major halls, the large Stravinsky Auditorium, and the smaller Miles Davis Club, both in the same large facility, nestled on the edge of the lake. Each venue is equipped with a Meyer Sound Mica line array system and a Digidesign D-Show console for the entire festival, allowing engineers for each act to come in and load settings into the console. While a temporary installation, many acoustical issues come into play because the systems' have to adapt to each act and audience.The Stravinsky Auditorium is a large hall with a single balcony that was designed to be a classical hall for orchestras, which boasts a reverb time of 3 seconds. While that might be fine for a symphony, it's hardly necessary for a rock or jazz band. To remedy this, the festival team went to the acoustical designer of the hall to figure out how to cancel out his work. Sound Coordinator for the festival, Niveau 2's Pierre-Audré Aebischer explained,
"We had to take the three seconds down to one second or so. The festival crew looks after that during the preloading. There's about 300 acoustical tabs that were designed. The ideal situation would be to have a physical acoustic modulator. Or in an ideal future we'd have a constellation system in there. But that's more of a dream. So about 30 years ago, these hanging baffles were designed. He had to figure out how to undo his own acoustical treatment."

The Acoustical treatment at the Stravinsky Auditorium kills about two seconds of reverb.
The results of the baffles are heard in every act that comes to the festival. Several rows of the baffles are lined across the whole auditorium, as well as several above the stage and attached to the walls. The treatment has definitely killed a large amount of the reverb, allowing rock and jazz bands alike the chance to play the famed Stravinsky. While a permanent solution isn't foreseeable in the future, the festival has created a simple solution to a complex problem. It sounds plenty great to me, very crisp and dynamic. Well, I've got to head over to the next show in this marathon of music. From the festival, Au revoir!

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