The Szeged Open-Air Festival in Dóm Square
With a tradition stretching back over 75 years, the Szeged Open-Air Festival in Dóm Square (Cathedral Square) is said to be Hungary’s largest open-air theatrical and musical event and the most visited summer cultural event of the region. This year, ES Audio’s Sandor Elek—who has been managing audio for the festival for the past 12 years via his rental company, Votec—opted for a combination of his own loudspeaker system with Innovason digital mixing consoles and digital microphones from Neumann.
The 2012 season opened on July 6 with a 3-day run of Wildhorn’s acclaimed Broadway musical of Jekyll & Hyde, controlled and mixed by an Innovason Eclipse GT digital console accompanied by an Innovason Sy80 for the radio mics.
“My goal is to improve the sound year on year,” Elek expains. “We already made a big difference last year in working with internationally renowned classical engineers such as Carsten Kümmel and Thomas Mundorf, whose approach to classical music and in particular their knowledge about the use of condenser microphones measurably improved the sound quality.”
Elek also deployed his own loudspeaker system that he developed specifically for music and theater use. “I couldn’t find anything on the market that fulfilled my requirements for transparency and flexibility for classical music applications, so I built my own,” he says.
The ES Audio crew at the Innovason Eclipse GT console in Szeged, Hungary
Elek used an Innovason Eclipse GT console for the festival. He contacted the local Innovason partner, Microsound in Budapest, to supply the Eclipse GT, as well as an Sy80 for Jekyll and Hyde. “The Pandora function [the new panning algorithm on the Eclipse GT] is amazing,” Elek says. “I didn’t think it was possible to make such a difference to the definition of the stereo image for the audience just by turning a pan pot, but Pandora makes it possible. You can hear a true stereo image that goes from full left to full right and back without any loss of signal for those sat at the extremes. It’s incredible.”
He also decided that given Eclipse’s capacity to control all the parameters of Neumann digital microphones from the control surface, he could try them out and improve sound quality further by reducing any noise coming from analog circuitry and cabling. Sandor therefore arranged for a 40-channel set of digital microphones and four Neumann DMI stage boxes to be run by the Eclipse GT at front-of-house by Carsten Kümmel.
The Sy80 was installed to handle the feeds from the radio microphones of the singers and the choir. This mix was then sent to the Eclipse GT where it was mixed with the orchestra—all using Neumann digital microphones—to provide the main mix which was then diffused by the ES Audio P.A. system.
“It was a real pleasure to mix this event with the technical setup we had here,” Kümmel says. “What more can you wish for with classical music than a wide open, transparent image that highlights the natural colorations and blending of the different instruments. The MARS system also proved its worth as I used it constantly to fine-tune the system using the tracks I had recorded during rehearsals.”
“I was impressed by the quality of the orchestra sound,” Elek says. “Carsten’s mix worked really well throughout the 4,000-seat auditorium, no matter where you were placed. You could hear everything from everywhere. It’s going to be a real challenge to improve on this next year!”
For further information visit www.innovason.com.