La Halle ô Grains Theatre upgrades with APG sound system

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The historic French theatre has selected a full Uniline Compact rig for its main stage as part of comprehensive renovations.

Over the course of a three-year hiatus, the (newly renamed) La Halle ô Grains Theatre in Bayeux, Normandy, has been completely redesigned to meet the latest expectations in terms of reception, accessibility, aesthetics, visibility and comfort.

This update was undertaken to offer the best possible experience to spectators, and a more versatile technical palette for incoming artists and crews. The hall now boasts a complete APG loudspeaker system installed by the ISA Group, to enhance the precision and quality of the acoustics.

“The specifications were drawn up around the programming and shows, 80% of which are theatrical,” said Romain Motte, who has been general manager of La Halle ô Grains for the past five years. “We were looking for precise audio quality, particularly at the high frequencies for a totally faithful reproduction of the voices. We also wanted to differentiate La Halle ô Grains from other theatres in the region and opted for a sound system that we felt was superior.”

The theatre’s tender was won by the ISA Group. The theatre was no stranger to the APG brand, thanks to local event provider Music Light, a member of the APG network of service provider partners in France and a regular user of APG for several years. Motte and the theatre’s management were able to testify to the performance of APG loudspeakers during summer events organised in partnership with Music Light.

For Motte, the choice was based on the quality and performance of APG products, but also on the relationships he was able to establish with APG representatives in a relatively short period of time.

“We had already worked with Music Light on outdoor events that we organise in the summer and we were very impressed by the quality of listening and the availability of the APG teams,” he said. “When we received ISA’s response to the call for tenders, we also made enquiries with another renowned theatre, Le Grand T, which had just equipped itself with APG and was delighted with its choice.”

After evaluating the best possible configuration to host the eclectic performances planned by the theatre – from plays, contemporary circus shows and storytelling to classical music concerts, French music and puppet and object theatre performances – the choice fell on an L-C-R configuration based on APG’s Uniline Compact system, consisting of a group of six UC206N and three UC115B on each side, as well as four UC206W coupled to a pair of DX12s in the centre of the stage.

The theatre also specified a versatile equipment list consisting of 16 APG DX12 loudspeakers, four SB115M2s and four DX8s, as well as 15 loudspeaker lines on the grill.

“The venue required an atypical sound design,” explained Motte. “In addition to the predominantly voice-based programming, the sound system also needed to be discreet in size and aesthetics, so that the audience would be focused on the actors and performers, not on large clusters of loudspeakers hanging above the stage.”

He continued, “In terms of sound quality, the Uniline Compact offers excellent homogeneity and precision in voice timbre. A large proportion of the audience is of ‘a certain age’, so the sound has to be very clear. The use of a French manufacturer was also essential for us, to ensure good aftersales.”

The training was done jointly between the integrator and the APG teams. “The team is delighted with the performance of the APG system,” Motte noted. “Thomas Fouillaud , our sound engineer, quickly became familiar with the system, received extensive training to complement his own experience, and has since recorded a wide variety of different room configurations. This essential aspect creates a collegial relationship, which continues today.”

Alexis Reymond, technical sales engineer for France’s Eastern region at APG, commented, “This key installation is a perfect illustration of the quality and synergies created by APG’s network of around 40 integrators and service providers in France. On this project, we have an end user who has become familiar with our brand through a local event provider, before being accompanied by a regional integrator; also a partner of the APG network. This ability to listen and provide service is the strength of our network, and directly benefits the users who trust us.”

La Halle ô Grains was re-opened in December 2019, but was forced to put its activity on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, the initial reactions to the new systems have been very positive.

“The artists who have performed recently have been pleasantly surprised,” said Motte. “In particular, we welcomed singer L (Raphaële Lannadère) accompanied by BabX on the piano for Un Jardin de Silence, directed by Thomas Jolly, as well as the immense Christophe, who unfortunately has just passed away. As great professionals, their expectations in terms of sound were high, and their feedback was very positive.”

He added, “APG has a reputation for offering an open system, which gives sound engineers a certain amount of freedom. In particular, Christophe’s host engineer was able to configure the sound in his own way, and mix the show exactly as he wanted. It’s a welcome change in a landscape populated by brands that don’t necessarily trust users as much.”

Despite these prestigious guests, Motte is keen to point out that the venue’s remit is not limited to live performances, explaining that La Halle ô Grains has aspirations of becoming a place for experimenting with spatialised sound as well. Being part of a network of technical directors and stage managers, Motte said that there is a real need to train professionals in spatialised sound, and that having such a system will meet this demand.

“Having a system like this provides a more precise sound than a classic line array,” he said. “It’s a definite advantage in performances, but it will also help us achieve our goal of becoming a training space for sound and light, and more specifically for spatialised sound. APG’s reputation in this area was another big factor in our choice.”

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Izzy became editor of Auditoria magazine in 2018, having previously served as assistant editor on the title earlier in her career. She is also the editor of Business Jet Interiors International, Railway Interiors International and new launch Cruise Liner Interiors International. Over the course of a decade as a business-to-business magazine editor, Izzy has covered everything from airline catering to car safety technologies, autonomous vehicles and business aviation airports. Outside of work, Izzy loves watercolour painting, live music and travel.

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