Lawo - Ópera de San Francisco - mc²

Two mc² audio production consoles and several Lawo I/O solutions have helped the San Francisco Opera complete its leap to audio over IP technology.

The latest project at the historic 3,006-seat theater, which opened in 1932 on Van Ness Avenue, serves to unify its audio production systems with IP technology, completing a project that dates back nearly seven years.

In 2015, the San Francisco Opera acquired its first Lawo console, an mc²56 MKII for use in post-production. The solution met the requirements set by the theater’s technical team. Doug Mitchell, senior audio and video engineer, elaborates: “First, the consoles needed to be native RAVENNA and, second, they needed to be made with the quality and detail that opera and symphonic music required.”

This initial contact helped Mitchell decide on Lawo for his most recent upgrade, “Having already purchased an mc²56 MKII with Nova73 Compact in 2015 for our post-production facility, we were already very familiar with Lawo.” “In fact, we chose Lawo in 2015 because of its RAVENNA audio capability. We had been using Merging Pyramix for multi-track capture and post-production mixing since 2007, and using Horus and Hapi AD/DA interfaces for all of our remote mic pre’s since 2012. Integrating that first mc²56 MKII into our existing infrastructure made connectivity much simpler — it was a no-brainer to continue with Lawo for our live sound consoles,” adds Mitchell.

Lawo - Ópera de San Francisco - mc²

A proyect with an eye to the future

The new installation, whose main objective was to unify the San Francisco Opera’s live audio, broadcast and post-production facilities within a 96kH infrastructure, consists of an mc²56 MKIII audio production console with a redundant A_UHD Core for the 5th floor sound booth backstage. The installation has also included with the A__stage64 and A__madi6 stage boxes, a Lawo V__pro8 video processor and a Power Core RP with VisTool RP remote control for the rehearsal microphones. At the orchestra level, an mc²36 MKII audio production console provides FOH sound, while the system backbone is managed by two Arista 7020 switches.

Another key to the installation was the integration of the FOH console with the main sound console, a goal accomplished as both new consoles now share all sources. The outputs feed two DirectOut Prodigy.MPs through RAVENNA and are matrixed before distribution to the speakers.

Mitchell shares his insight on the keys to the upgrade: “One big challenge with the previous equipment was lack of DSP, which required a lot of outboard processing gear. Since we had previously installed AoIP infrastructure with our first Lawo console, it was easy to replace the old stageboxes with the Lawo A__stage64 using existing wiring, and adding the Arista 7020 to tie the Consoles, A_UHD cores, A__stages64 units, A__madi6 and Power Core.”

“It all went together very easily. We have 2 Horus with 64 mic pre’s in the orchestra pit, 1 Horus with 32 mic pre’s for RF mics, 16 mic pre’s for itinerant use DSL, 1 Hapi with 8 mic pre’s in the ceiling for hanging mics, and 1 portable Horus with 32 mic pre’s for special events. The ability to easily share all the Merging pre’s and the A_Stage units with both mc²56’s, the mc²36 and the Power Core really shows the beauty of an all-IP audio network,” he adds.

Lawo - Ópera de San Francisco - mc²Flexible workflow

Another key to the installation, according to Mitchell, is the flexibility that the Lawo solutions bring to his daily workflow. In his own words, “We share the theater with the San Francisco Ballet, and we both have very similar, yet different needs. In my twenty years with the Company, the changeover that happens twice per year between us has always been quite complicated and took a lot of time, as it required a lot of patch bay changes.”

“Now, we finally have a system large enough and flexible enough that all we need to do is change out some microphones and recall a different snapshot in the mc²56 MKIII, mc²36 MKII and the Power Core, and we are ready to go!,” concludes the San Francisco Opera’s chief engineer.

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For • 25 Nov, 2021
• Section: Audio, IP