L-ACOUSTICS FLIES HIGH WITH CIRQUE DU SOLEIL’S AMALUNA
Running from mid-January to early March, Amaluna marks Cirque du Soleil’s 20th anniversary of London’s Royal Albert Hall productions. The set is as lavish as one would expect from Cirque du Soleil, with stylised trees hanging from a central truss which, as well as supporting airborne acrobatics, also accommodates the main L-Acoustics hangs.
The production’s head of sound, François Lanteigne has mixed over 200 shows in the venue and knows that L-Acoustics has the secret of taming its challenging acoustics. He worked with Britannia Row Productions to create an L-Acoustics Kara sound system for the show.
“Amaluna features a powerful musical score that’s more rock infused than most Cirque productions. I’ve worked with L-Acoustics systems for over 12 years now, and after hearing L-Acoustics Kara at different concerts, I knew it would be perfect for this show,” he says. “Kara delivers a very precise focus on the vocalists, but without compromising the power to size ratio. The rest of the mix was very easy to translate into the configuration required to achieve that.”
François worked with system designer Pierre Sanschagrin to map the system using L-Acoustics Soundvision software. The results proved highly accurate. The outcome was a design comprising a main system of six hangs of 12 Kara, with two SB18 subs on two of the arrays and two stacks of three ARCS Focus as floor fills for the seating area directly around the stage. System amplification is via LA8s, which also handle the processing and EQ.
“The low end was challenging as they didn’t want anything on the ground for aesthetic reasons. I didn’t want any subwoofers under the floor — because the result is more mechanical than musical — and we couldn’t put them at the same height as the hangs because of the acrobat rigging systems,” says François. “We ended up flying two centre clusters on a spanner truss higher than the mother grid, two K1-SB subs in the back and higher than a stack of four further K1-SBs. Once properly aligned, the low end was steered down and it worked out very well.”
A key part of the show is the soundscapes, sound effects and musical elements that follow the actions of the show’s performers. To ensure every section of the audience was covered, 10 L-Acoustics 108 XTis were installed at the Grand Tier level for the stalls, with 12 on the gallery to cover the circle.
Another key to overcoming the Albert Hall’s acoustic challenges was the wide horizontal dispersion of the Kara loudspeakers.
“I’m used to playing in a tent that has the audience seated 270º around the stage, which makes it very difficult to achieve a consistent image,” says François. “The circular shape of the Royal Albert Hall is no different and there is a lot to cover, especially vertically. I had the luxury of rigging points pretty much where needed, so we were able to bring the six Kara hangs very close to the centre, above the stage, high enough to be out of the way of the acrobatics and any sightline issues. The 110˚ horizontal dispersion has really helped to achieve the coverage needed.
“I can honestly say that the system for Amaluna is the best sound I have achieved in the Albert Hall. We have really got something special. It is smooth and practically seamless, with nice imaging for every seat.”