Situated in the heart of Paris, La Gaîté Lyrique is a multimedia playground whose mission is to explore and promote all forms of digital culture and new media. Occupying seven floors behind a really rather modest façade, La Gaîté Lyrique is packed with digital technology including no fewer than four Innovason Eclipse consoles and a full EtherSound network throughout.
La Gaîté Lyrique has quite the legacy: in 1862 as a 1,800-seat theatre, the venue has been through some exciting times, from celebrating Victor Hugo’s birthday to hosting visiting Russian ballets in the 1920s.
An abortive attempt to run an ‘open-air amusement park’ within the structure in the late ’80s ultimately forced its closure. The building lay dormant for 13 years until 2002 when the Mairie de Paris stepped in to give the iconic venue a new lease of life and create a brand new establishment to promote digital culture and contemporary music. The project was a huge undertaking and was finally inaugurated in September 2011.
The venue comprises seven floors, five of which are open to the public and two of which are private but include rehearsal spaces, a recording studio and the ‘technical’ floor. There are a number of dedicated spaces, the largest of which is the 750-capacity ‘Grande Salle’ which houses two of the four Innovason Eclipse digital consoles for FOH and monitoring duties. Dedicated to live music, this space has its own bespoke EtherSound network within the room as well as the possibility to send audio from the stage to anywhere else in the building.
The other spaces include the small hall (max capacity of 150), a 130-seat auditorium with a 5.1 digital theatre surround system, a video games space, several studios (one rehearsal/filming studio, one recording studio and three multimedia studios for video editing, sound and graphics), the resources centre and 1,000sqmof modular exhibition space across two levels and a huge 20m x 4m projection wall.
In keeping with the ethos of digital culture and creation embodied by la Gaîté Lyrique, the audio system is fully digitally networked throughout the entire building including the halls and studios. All 360 ceiling speakers across all levels of the building are connected and individually addressable thanks to a total of 96 x Auvitran AVP4-ES100 digital EtherSound roof amplifiers. The ceiling speakers are complemented by 20 x ML12-ES Amadeus subs from Atelier 33 for some extra low-end when required. The jewel in the crown of this setup is, in fact, the third of the four Eclipse consoles. The fourth is kept on hand as a spare or for extra events when required.
“The Eclipse installed on our ‘technical’ floor acts as a massive matrix,” explains head of sound, Jean-Marc Harel. “Used in conjunction with the ESMonitor software from Auvitran, it manages all 320 loudspeakers across the site. The speakers can be managed individually or in groups which can be defined at will. In short, we can send sound anywhere at any time from any source in the building. It’s yet another creative tool for artists in the palette of what we can offer at la Gaîté Lyrique.”
“We weren’t originally intending to use the Eclipse in this way,” admitted Jean-Marc. “It seemed a little extravagant at the time to say the least, but it was better that it sitting there doing nothing, which would have been the alternative. However, it’s turned out to be the best thing we could possibly have done.”
Eclipse has been equally well-received in its more traditional setting of the main concert hall where two consoles have been deployed for FOH and monitoring purposes complemented by a DioCore (Innovason’s EtherSound-enabled stagebox) for extra I/O capacity when required.
“The best bit for me is M.A.R.S.” says engineer Pierre Le Cardinal. “It’s really, really useful! We can record all of our shows on high quality digital multitrack, which obviously the engineers and clients love, but we also use it for virtual soundchecking, playback and all sorts.
“Once we’ve recorded a show, we can send it on the network straight upstairs to our studio on the 6th floor for post-show mixing and editing. There we have a second DioCore equipped with a UM8 output card which converts the signal from EtherSound to AES/EBU and then straight into Pro Tools. In that way we have a completely digital chain from start to finish. It doesn’t get better than that!”