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Walt Disney Concert Hall

Designed by architect Frank Gehry and featuring an acoustical design by Dr. Yasuhisa Toyota, the Walt Disney Concert Hall opened on October 23, 2003, as the fourth venue on the campus of the Music Center in downtown Los Angeles. The Concert Hall offers 2,252 seats and includes the 270-seat Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater (REDCAT), the 300-seat William M. Keck Foundation Children’s Amphitheatre, and the 120-seat Nadine and Ed Carson Amphitheatre.

Earlier this year, ATK AudioTek of Valencia, Calif., supplied and installed a fiber-networked DiGiCo digital audio system at the Concert Hall: a DiGiCo SD5 at front-of-house, SD10 at the monitor position, with shared SD Rack. This installation follows the purchase of a pair of DiGiCo SD7 desks for the Hollywood Bowl in 2014 (see “The Hollywood Bowl: A Unique Blend of Natural Acoustics and Amplified Sound” in Mix’s October 2014 issue).

“With our success at the Hollywood Bowl using DiGiCo, we considered the consoles pretty seriously when it was time to look at what we could do for the Concert Hall,” says Fred Vogler, principal sound designer and mixer for the Los Angeles Philharmonic. “We wanted a desk that was easy to use, had good input/output flexibility, and provided future expandability. It also made sense for us to have the same type of consoles at the summer home of the L.A. Phil when we’re at the Concert Hall during the winter season.”

Kevin Wapner is the Concert Hall’s head of audio/video, and assistant audio/video and monitor mixer at the Hollywood Bowl. “So the year before we made this latest purchase decision, we converted all our paths at the Concert Hall to 96k capability via RockNet [low latency audio distribution network] in preparation for moving in this direction,” Wapner says. “The transition was really smooth, going from the previous consoles to the DiGiCos and using the fiber loop between them. AudioTek’s integration and their knowledge got us up and going—it was seamless.”

While the DiGiCo FOH console is rarely required to handle more than 40 inputs for non-orchestral performances, the SD5 enables granular control of the venue’s sound reinforcement system, which is deployed only when needed. Custom left and right main speakers on the stage fire forward, sideways, and to the rear, as do the center-hung arrays. Front fills cover the first few rows of seating, and there are also ceiling speakers and balcony delays.

“Everything is addressable,” Vogler elaborates. “You can change the level to the forward JBL VT4887 array—the upper and lower portions are separately addressed—as well as the sides and rear. You can also individually address the main custom ATC speakers. That was another factor in picking the DiGiCo console: We needed something with excellent matrixing and routing. The EQ sounds great on this board and the routing is superb.”