Immersive mixing tech features at circus festival

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This year’s annual Massy International Circus Festival made use of a new AV system with immersive mixing technology from in-ear monitor specialist Klang.

The festival returned this year after a two-year hiatus, and featured top circus artists performing in the company’s 50m-diameter, 3,000-capacity big top, set up in the town of Massy on the outskirts of Paris, France.

Established in 1993 to honour the 75th birthday of celebrated clown Achille Zavatta, the International Circus Festival of Massy has since been staged annually in the town. It is broadcast every year on the French television channel France 3. A homage to traditional circus entertainment, the festival attracts world-famous circus performers. At the heart of the show is the Jean Ribul Orchestra, comprising 10 musicians including a brass section, which underpins the performances in the ring.

Tasked with managing the audio and lighting requirements was French rental company Ultra Son, collaborating with equipment distributor DV2. The team devised the new audio system for 2022, employing the immersive Klang:konductor mixing processor with 10 individual Klang:kontroller personal monitoring mixers.

“We watched the Klang:kontroller launch last year, and were very excited about this ground-breaking development,” said Maxime Polak, Ultrason owner. “The use of the Klang:kontroller is the first time these new products have been employed in France. In a venue where the layout does not lend itself to accommodating multiple audio positions, the technology negates the need for a monitor mixer, allowing the show’s sound engineer to set and forget the monitor system, recalling snapshot presets for each song, and focusing on the live FOH mix, leaving the musicians to manage their own monitor mixes autonomously.”

The Klang:konductor manages up to 128 input signals, and delivers 16 immersive mixes at near zero latency. The rear panel has three DMI slots for Dante, MADI or Optocore cards, offering I/O freedom and integration with third-party systems. The Klang:kontroller remote units let the musicians manage their own monitor mix, with added spatialisation. Up to 24 stereo signals can be assigned to the musicians, each of whom has control over the levels and spatial positioning. These 24 signals can be routed into 16 programmable, colour-coded groups on the remote controller for each musician to utilise.

“We introduced the Klang system at rehearsals to walk the musicians through the system,” said Polak. “Once they were comfortable adjusting their sound and mix, we explored the immersive possibilities. The musicians were amazed at how the immersive technology helped them easily identify a source in the mix and avoid any loud levels in their in-ear monitor. The Klang algorithm finely balances the channel mix, revealing what the musicians need to hear instead of simply increasing its volume.”

The Klang:konductor is installed at the FOH position alongside a DiGiCo SD12 digital mixing console, and each Klang:kontroller is networked on the matrix, so that each modification made by a musician to one of the 128 signals is visible in real time on the console. The comprehensive integration between Klang and DiGiCo technology means that if a musician needs assistance during the live performance, the sound engineer can intervene via the DiGiCo console. Furthermore, the whole AV system – from the GrandMA2 lighting console to the DiGiCo audio mixing console – is synchronised via an OSC digital communication protocol so that lighting cues, followspots, individual monitor and instrument settings are pre-programmed in each musical segment.

“The new Klang system has ensured the show production is seamless and easy to run, which is a huge advantage for a live action, variety performance with a demanding schedule of two shows a day,” concluded Polak. “Not only was the tech team thankful for the time-saving benefits that Klang’s latest technology provided, the musicians were really impressed with the advanced sonic experience that immersive sound has to offer. It’s an evolution in monitor sound.”

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