City Recital Hall Sydney

ProjectCity Recital Hall SydneyLocationSydney, Australia Manufacturersd&b DistributorNAS, HMEInstallerNAS and City Recital Hall teamSubmitted byd&b

City Recital Hall in Sydney is a world-class performance venue with excellent acoustics located in the heart of the city’s Central Business District. It offers a curated program of contemporary music performances to complement its presenting partners, which include the Australian Chamber Orchestra, Musica Viva Australia, the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, Pinchgut Opera, and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.

In recent years, new management in the form of Justin Boschetti, CEO and Stuart Rogers, Director of Programming, aimed to rejuvenate the venue’s offerings and business model by expanding the types of performances held there. To support this new strategy, they identified the need for a modern, state-of-the-art sound system. Having experienced the quality of the d&b-powered sound design at a Bjork performance in New York, Rogers and Technical Manager Richard Fenton engaged with d&b and their partner NAS to expand the creative programming potential of the venue and elevate its positioning within the Australian music scene.

City Recital Hall wanted to revitalise its sound system to provide artists and attendees with a fully immersive audio experience. The main challenges included:

  • Achieving the desired acoustic performance within budget and rigging constraints.
  • Ensuring the sound system would complement the hall’s large size and existing acoustics, particularly to manage the venue’s long RT in the lower frequencies.
  • Addressing architectural constraints such as rigging limitations, weight restrictions, and some stakeholders’ preference for a discrete system that was heard but not seen.
  • Implementing an audio solution that was flexible, easy to operate for rapid show turnarounds, and adaptable to various performances.

The project involved close collaboration between NAS, a highly experienced specialist solutions provider, specialist rigging provider, HME, and City Recital Hall’s own technical staff. NAS provided design consultation and supplied the PA equipment and processing, while HME updated the infrastructure by installing new rigging points and cabling. The NAS team then installed the system components on site, after which Richard Fenton, Technical Manager at City Recital Hall, handled programming, patching, final system design, networking and initial tuning of the new d&b Soundscape system.

The d&b XSL loudspeaker system, integral to this project, was chosen for its directivity and state-of-the-art rider acceptance. Delivered in an LCR configuration, including four Flown XSLi subwoofers and 6 d&b 21s subs under the stage. Furthermore, the system was able to enhance directivity control, a crucial capability for the venue’s distinct acoustics.

Rigging, often an intricate part of large installations, was carefully managed. City Recital Hall added new points for the main arrays and all the surrounds, including concrete core drilling to create new penetrations for the centre array hang. In addition, a significant amount of existing cabling was repurposed, with kilometres of new cabling installed throughout the venue.

The compact d&b custom solutions – delivered in white to blend in with the surrounding architecture – provided a 360-degree sound possibility on all three levels of the venue. The use of discreet d&b Vi7P point source speakers positioned at the stage level ensured the sound remained focused on the performers, not the equipment. E8 loudspeakers and 44S subwoofers supplemented the Vi7P arrays to achieve full-range coverage. Yi7P arrays were flown as delay speakers or used as fills for the side boxes.

The solution also utilised d&b’s Soundscape system, which is natively integrated with the R1 control software. This allowed for intuitive control and monitoring of the complete loudspeaker setup from one interface.

However, technology is also about the end-user experience. This integration provided the technical team at City Recital Hall with a familiar and intuitive control interface. Ease of operation was paramount, and the software ensured a seamless experience for audio engineers, even during rapid show turnarounds.

The transformation of City Recital Hall’s audio infrastructure reaped remarkable rewards. With the d&b Soundscape system at its heart, the hall was able to truly embody its campaign message: “Sounds Better” – ushering in a new era of auditory experiences for audiences.

“Our vision is to make City Recital Hall Sydney’s home of live music. We have an amazing acoustic hall that is much admired in the classical world. We chose d&b audiotechnik Soundscape so that we are seen as the best in the field for contemporary artists and to ensure our amplified shows achieve as much acclaim as our acoustic shows,” commented Justin Boschetti, CEO, City Recital Hall. “The system not only gives us amazing front-facing sound but also makes City Recital Hall the only venue in Sydney with 360-degree spatial audio. The reception from artists and audiences has been incredibly positive.”

More than just an upgrade, the new system also helps draw top artists and promoters to City Recital Hall. The state-of-the-art acoustics positioned the venue as a prime location for outstanding live performances. But it wasn’t just the professionals who took notice; positive feedback from the general public was a testament to the system’s excellence, with attendees, artists, music media and even fellow engineers also expressing their admiration for the sound quality.

Moreover, on an operational level, the Soundscape system streamlined day-to-day functions. The flexibility it offered to audio engineers meant that the venue could swiftly adapt to diverse performances. What once might have been a complex setup process became smooth and efficient, proving that the right technology not only enhances the experience but also elevates the venue brand to a whole new level while significantly boosting the city’s cultural infrastructure.

“The Soundscape system is a game changer because it supports creative intelligence, enabling artists to “play the room.” The venue becomes a musical instrument itself, with the audience being placed inside the artist’s musical vision,” explained Stuart Rogers, Director of Programming, City Recital Hall. “Soundscape enables us to present extremes of artistic breadth, from cutting-edge electronica to folk, rock, and outernational music, while enabling cathedral-like ethereal immersion. I’m excited that musical experiences at City Recital Hall are being changed from a system to relay music to one where artists can create unique content in a communal integration of art form and audience.”