This is opera, not cabaret, but if the KP102 line arrays, mounted eight per side on the proscenium arch of London’s Royal Opera House could speak for themselves, they would surely be saying “Can you see me in the back?”, since the K-array loudspeaker system installed by Stage Electrics is so discrete it is almost invisible.
After initially trying out a KR402 system, Royal Opera House’s Head of Sound, Steve Zissler and his team met with sound designer Jamie Gosney from Stage Electrics and Dave Wooster, now part of 2B Heard, K-array’s new UK distributor, to put together a series of designs to meet the needs of the venue.
The final product was a system comprised of the aforementioned KP102, precisely colour matched to the gold of the proscenium arch with 24 KKS50 compact sub-bass in six clusters of four subs, three clusters each side, eight KK102 front fills built into the new thrust stage, two KA84 four channel amplifiers powering the main proscenium L/R system, a KA84 four channel amplifier powering all six sub bass clusters and a further KA24 four channel amplifier powering the front fills.
"One of the truly amazing performance aspects of the system is the image across the room."
Dave Wooster, 2B Heard, UK
From sitting in the very first box, round to dead centre, the stereo image is impeccable. Even if you are sitting in the first box house left, you experience a lower level of the left array due to proximity, but you also receive a strong level of house right because the distance allows the system to couple more elements. Combined with the 110 degree horizontal spread, left and right are well balanced.
"The other benefit of this system is that due to the amount of drivers in the column you are always on axis to the system. This has a dramatic effect on the requirement for under balcony delays and the real experience of sound coming from the stage and not above your head."
The overall performance of the system, totaling eight KP102 units per side, each providing 720W from 12 drivers in each section, really gains momentum. With 96 3.15” drivers providing around 5,760W, a dispersion of seven degrees vertical and 100 degrees horizontal and weighing in at 96kg, making it a system like no other.
"This is a system that has a dynamic and fast response to what it receives and accuracy in what the engineer expects and wants it to do."
"As well as being an opera house, we also host commercial events. And for us, the K-array is a system that covers at least 90/95% of what we want to do. If we were doing Iron Maiden, it would be slightly different, but the chances of that happening are really slim. When you walk into the auditorium, you’ve got the grandiose gold proscenium, rich red plush seats and you’re not expecting to see a loudspeaker hanging above your head. That’s key for us; it’s all about is people coming into the auditorium and not seeing a loudspeaker, or not having a sense of the sound being reinforced. For a commercial event, it’s fair enough, but generally, if we’re doing some of the more contemporary operas or ballets which may have electronic instruments as part of the score, you just want that sense of the sound being lifted, but not the sense of it coming from that loudspeaker over there."
Steve Zissler, Head of Sound, Royal Opera House