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London’s Royal Opera House Overhauls Studio

The Royal Opera House in London has overhauled its studio capabilities with a Dante network, new console and a stack of converters.

The refurbished Royal Opera House studio.
The refurbished Royal Opera House studio.

London, UK (June 4, 2024)—The Royal Opera House in London’s Covent Garden has overhauled its studio capabilities, implementing a Dante network, new digital mixing console and a stack of converters.

Originally built in 2004 when the Royal Opera House began broadcasting performances live to cinemas across the UK and Europe, the studio is also used to capture audio for CD and DVD release. Prior to the refit it contained a Studer console and 5.1 monitoring and, in terms of workflow, behaved very much like a traditional broadcast studio. During the refit, which involved Munro Acoustics improving the acoustics and making the space much more comfortable for ROH staff, the studio overhauled the entire equipment list to change and improve the workflow.

Daniel Arif.
Daniel Arif.

Daniel Arif, sound, video and broadcast project coordinator for the Royal Opera House (ROH), says, “I looked at numerous different audio converters but chose Prism Sound because the Dream ADA-128 had none of the shortfalls I was finding with other products. It delivers exceptional sound quality; it integrates well with our other equipment; it has plenty of inputs, and it doesn’t take up a lot of rack space.”

“A lot of our material is mixed by freelance engineers who like to edit in their own studios, which could be anywhere in the country,” Arif explains. “They wanted us to make it easier to move recordings around, so to accommodate that we decided to move to an ‘in the box’ workflow using Pro Tools and Pyramix. This meant changing the console, as a traditional broadcast desk was no longer suited to that style of working. Our solution was to invest in an Avid control surface, along with two Macs that run simultaneously as our main and redundant systems.”

UK Composer Upgrades Converters

A large number of inputs was vital—Arif specified 128—as was rack space, because the ROH studio has a relatively small machine room. “It was at this point that I began advocating for the Prism Sound Dream ADA-128,” he says. “I’d used Prism Sound converters while working at Abbey Road and had always loved their audio quality. When I saw an online demo for the ADA-128 I realized it was ideal for our needs and arranged a meeting with Prism Sound’s managing director, Jody Thorne.”

Three ADA-128s are housed in the studio’s machine room, which accommodates 128 microphone inputs from the orchestra pit and stage. Another ADA-128 is in a rack room, where it handles microphones rigged in the opera house’s ceiling and all the amplifiers for the FOH PA.

“We also have another ADA-128 in a flight case on wheels, which we use for concerts that have awkward staging,” Arif says. “Our sixth unit is in the ballet studio, a small theatre where we record Insight events for You Tube. Finally, we have a seventh unit that is used for mass audio distribution.”