The original Optocore network at the Düsseldorf Schauspielhaus was upgraded to an advanced and agile solution spanning the three-building complex (incorporating two auditoria). What started as a simple stand-alone system in the small studio theatre evolved into something much larger, and opened a gateway to the future in which audio signals could be exchanged between both the large and smaller spaces. In addition to providing vastly increased channel count and routing options, the new integration was expected to offer better sound quality, lower latency, and greater flexibility. This required a custom and adaptable approach to create a third house loop, complementing the Optocore/DiGiCo loops, built around Optocore M-series (MADI) interfaces, enabling audio signals to be sent throughout the entire building. The real differentiator would be Optocore’s AutoRouter, which replaces traditional fiber patchbay allowing automatic ring closure when mobile devices are added or removed from the loop. Additionally, video distribution was handled by Repeat 48 devices, from sister company BroaMan.

Theatre Tonmeister (and Deputy Head of Sound), Torben Kärst was tasked with designing the set-up, which evolved through several iterations. This included developing the original proposal for a stand-alone Optocore system (for the smaller of the two theatres) into a scenario whereby audio signals could be exchanged between both spaces. The first system was delivered in 2015 and new devices were seamlessly integrated with already installed ones – ability to scale up the system even after few years of operation became crucial when securing budget for the project. “The biggest leap forward was when we decided to centralise our entire wireless system to enable us to send signals throughout the entire building by creating a third house loop, which was crucial to the whole design,” stated Torben. The Optocore/DiGiCo topography enables full audio distribution of 56 radio mics and is the clock master of the entire audio system. Furthermore, working with Head of Department, Peer Seuken and Tim Deckers, who oversees the video, Torben had to oversee the connectivity and ensure full integration.

This project has been put forward for an award because of the effective merger of older devices with the latest innovations from Optocore, especially the impact created by the unique functionality of Optocore’s new AutoRouter, which enables automatic routing of the digital loops. This redefines the paradigm as Torben explained: “In effect, it means there’s no longer any need for patch cables to close the loop as it takes place automatically. Each connection point on stage is connected to the AutoRouter. At the same time, taking the DiGiCo console out of the loop and connecting it separately and powering it off enables us to check the optical status of the system in the Optocore control software. By being able to see the RX and TX power of every transceiver in the system, troubleshooting becomes much easier.” In a busy theatre with multiple productions, all these efficiencies make for faster changeover and set-up times, thereby creating longer time for rehearsal.