First Concerts: Jazz 360° @ Théâtre Garonne, Toulouse, France

IMAG0617The New Year’s Eve 2018 concerts at the Théâtre Garonne in Toulouse were the first occasion to use this WFS system for live concerts in front of an audience in Toulouse. The program for the evening: 6 jazz and free improvisation concerts.
Once again many thanks to the Théâtre Garonne for their support in the development of this tool. And also a big thank you to all the musicians who were curious and enthusiastic and who trusted us.

The main auditorium at the Théâtre Garonne is built in a former pumping station that used to pump up water from the river to the near-by water tower. It’s a brick building like most older constructions in Toulouse. There are about 250 seats in the venue. The tiered seat rows are 12m wide. The stage is not raised. The ceiling has some acoustic treatment. On the whole the acoustic is very nice with a slight flutter echo and a bump around 250Hz.

The PA was made of:

  • 7 small KS Audio CPD04 speakers for the front rows, 2m apart. the complete line was 12m wide. The first row of seats were about 2m from the speakers. There were little absorbent mats to angle the speakers and absorb the reflection on the stage floor.
  • 4 L-Acoustics 12XT powered by a LA4x, 4m apart, flown about 6m above the CPD04 for the mid and upper seats.
  • 2 L-Acoustics SB15 on a single LA4x channel, on the catwalk at the front of the stage, 7.50m above the CPD04.
  • 4 L-Acoustics MDT115HiQ for monitors.

The console is a DiGiCo S21 with a D-Rack stage-rack. There is a MADI interface to connect the desk to the computer running the WFS processing.
The CPD04 were connected to the outputs of aux busses (3 stereo and 1 mono). The 12XT and SB15 were connected to the outputs of 5 matrices.
The WFS process was fed from the direct-outs of the input channels. The return of the process was done through the return of insert A on the Aux and Matrices.

The tuning of the system was done with a multitrack recording fed back into the console. Starting from a nominal level (0dB) for the CPD04 we are trying to determine the level and delay for the long(er) throw speakers.
We start off with setting the level to have the same level in the front seats as the mid and upper seats. Next with both lines of speakers on we adjust the delay until we don not have the impression the sound is coming from above. And finally fine tune level and delay to have the most homogeneous sound in the auditorium.
With this equipment in the given positions we had a delay of 14,5ms and attenuation of -15dB for the 12XT.

Microphones were mostly Sennheiser electrostatics.

The program for the evening had 6 parts, most of the acoustic:

  • William Parker (d.bass) and Rob Brown (a.sax)
  • Méloditions with Eric Lareine (voice) and Denis Badault (piano)
  • Cooper Moore (piano)
  • Pourtant les Cimes with Daunik Lazro (t.sax), Didier Lasserre (dr) and Benjamin Duboc (d.bass)
  • No Noise No Reduction with Marc Démereau (bar.sax), Marc Maffiolo and Florian Nastorg (bass.sax)
  • In Order To Survive with William Parker (d.bass), Rob Brown (a.sax), Cooper Moore (piano) and Hamid Drake (dr)

the only stage monitors used were for the voices of Eric Lareine and Marc Démereau and also for the quartet In Order To Survive. All others were close enough to each other to do without fold back.

  1. William Parker (d.bass) and Rob Brown (a.sax)
    26170772_1761849543834174_1183297303130740659_o26173960_1761849920500803_5754571239281608748_oNo more time at soundcheck for this duo. They decide to do it acoustic, with no abss amp. A microphone for each instrument. the musicians are 1m behind the speaker line. there is an attenuation of the closer speakers to let the acoustic sound do most of the work for the people sitting right in front of the musicians.
  2. Méloditions with Eric Lareine (voix) and Denis Badault (piano)
    26170937_1761849270500868_6236055690267113017_o26170095_1761849467167515_3260230551745880045_oFragile half-sung lyrics with a grand concert piano. We used a stage monitor for both musicians for the voice. With WFS we can focus the voice on the performer without the impression of a wall of sound and keep the very intimate aspect of the concert.
  3. Cooper Moore (piano)
    Very light sound reinforcement for this powerful piano solo ranging from gospel to free jazz.
  4. Pourtant les Cimes with Daunik Lazro (t.sax), Didier Lasserre (dr) and Benjamin Duboc (d.bass)
    Light sound reinforcement for a subtle concert. These musicians are used to smaller venues and usually do without amplification. during the soundcheck they complained of the echo that they got from the speakers in front of them. Again with some damping of the closer speakers the problem went away and the sound on stage seems very natural. On the audience side where ever you were sitting you could hear every minute detail, even in the last row.

  5. No Noise No Reduction with Marc Démereau (bar.sax), Marc Maffiolo and Florian Nastorg (bass.sax)
    26116113_1761850007167461_1409311563565290597_oWith a baritone and two bass saxophones there could be a big issue with too much in the lower end of the spectrum and the impossibility to distinguish one from the other in a very boomy mush. With the placement that is possible with WFS we can avoid this issue. And anybody can hear clearly who’s playing what in loops the saxophones play.
    Marc Démereau signs a naughty poem in old French. We set up a monitor for him. His voice doesn’t have the same power as the saxophones to make the acoustic ring. We bring a second monitor next the the microphone stand, turned towards the audience to give more presence to the voice.
  6. In Order To Survive with William Parker (c.bass), Rob Brown (a.sax), Cooper Moore (piano) and Hamid Drake (dr)
    26116416_1761849537167508_2240780771789712473_o26116339_1761849160500879_8349885819010402886_oFree jazz to close off the program with themes written for the occasion by William Parker. Sketchy sound check in the afternoon. Stage monitors for everybody. Bass amp on stage (a little loud), a powerful drummer with excellent technique. The WFS process is a bit muddled with the monitors, but with such a loud sound on stage there is very little to add in the PA. Just to balance the saxophone and piano with the rest.

On the whole a very positive first occasion with a concert for the WFS system. Tools that respond well to real world needs. A very nice and natural sound that anyone in the audience can enjoy. What a wonderful way to finish off this year of development and keep the ball rolling for 2018.

Photos: Pierre-Olivier Boulant, Laurent Avizou

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