null Genelec’s audio solutions reign at Stockholm’s Queen Silvia concert hall
Genelec’s audio solutions reign at Stockholm’s Queen Silvia concert hall
When the directors of Stockholm’s prestigious music school, Lilla Akademien, set about building a new concert hall on its existing campus, their mission was to create a highly flexible venue, serving as a small performance space for professional live music concerts, a rehearsal room for the music school’s students and an inspiring setting for creative learning. The project took over two years to complete and was inaugurated by Sweden’s Queen Silvia herself, also a patron of the music school. The result is a stunning auditorium, unlike any other: a harmonious blend of architecture, technology and lighting – with a world-class sound system from Genelec.
Lilla Akademien’s Artistic Advisor, Mark Tatlow explains: “We wanted to give students – and everyone who performs in the Hall – somewhere to truly immerse themselves in their instrument. For that, we needed a sound system that would work for live classical music performed acoustically, as well as for electroacoustic music and live-streamed concerts.”
Despite the relatively small 300 seat capacity, this is one of the most complex projects I have been involved in.
Having identified the most suitable building on campus – one which could maximise the potential for design and functionality – Italian architect Giorgio Palù set the bar high for the Hall’s design aesthetics and left the venue’s acoustics in the capable hands of Japanese acoustician, Yasuhisa Toyota, an established international authority in the field of Concert Hall design. The unusual layout of the Hall required close collaboration from a team of international professionals across a range of disciplines, including leading Swedish integrators Informationsteknik.
Marcus Haraldsson Boij, technical director of the Informationsteknik team explains the challenges: “Despite the relatively small 300 seat capacity, this is one of the most complex projects I have been involved in. The combination of a centrally located stage, the long reverberation time of acoustic classical music – and a design requirement to minimise the number of visible loudspeakers – made it very interesting from an acoustic design point of view!”
Boij, an experienced musician with a background in sound engineering, understood all too well the constraints of the building’s cavernous architecture and set about sourcing a flexible sound system that could work just as well for acoustic and non-acoustic music.
“We needed to distribute high-quality sound close to the audience without it playing louder than the reverb. Without a traditional ‘left/right’ stage and with the audience seated at three different levels surrounding the orchestra, it demanded a different way of thinking – and while I wanted more speakers, it simply wasn’t possible given the design of the Hall.”
To limit the amount of sound bouncing around the room, it was important to reduce the volume from the loudspeakers and Genelec’s Smart IP range of networked models, with their outstanding audio performance and excellent nearfield clarity, was an obvious choice: “By positioning them around the space,” Boij continues, “we avoided using a traditional line array system, which would have been too obtrusive in this setting. Instead, we created a unique distributed sound system which utilised the volume of the entire Hall while still giving the audience a sound that felt both rich and intimate.”
The team at Informationsteknik specified twenty-two Smart IP 4420 models and four 4430s. Painted in RAL 1036 gold, the 4430s were the only visible loudspeakers of the entire installation. Two pairs were suspended below the first level balcony, blending harmoniously with the décor. Additional pairs of the compact 4420s were installed every few metres across each section of the curved wall in between the windows, cleverly hidden in specially insulated recessed boxes.
The network allows discrete control of each loudspeaker to move sound around the room.
“We knew that with the way the walls were constructed, and the design requirements imposed upon us, pulling cables was going to be a problem,” notes Boij. “Consequently, the Smart IP active loudspeaker family was the perfect choice since this avoided having to worry about housing external amplifiers – and Smart IP’s single cable technology made cabling MUCH easier. It was a great solution for us.”
For Lilla Akademien, it was essential that the Hall could meet the dual demands of classical music tradition and the music of tomorrow. Not only did the active design of Genelec loudspeakers eliminate the need for external amplifiers, but providing multichannel sound over the Dante network was an unexpected bonus for the school’s students.
Tatlow is thrilled with the results. “Using a digital audio workstation, our composition students can connect to the Hall and create pieces by combining the live acoustics of the Concert Hall with electronic sounds or music. The network allows discrete control of each loudspeaker to move sound around the room, and the design of the Hall itself encourages students to take the next step in their music making – so the possibilities are huge.”