Renkus-Heinz Iconyx steers a European first at Wexford Opera House

Wexford, Ireland | December, 2008 - A pioneering installation at the new Wexford Opera House in Ireland marks a European first for auditorium sound – digitally steerable auditorium audio.

Renowned acoustic consultant Peter Mapp and system integrators Northern Light specified six Renkus- Heinz ICONYX digitally steerable array loudspeakers, supplied by Renkus-Heinz’s UK and Ireland distributor, Polar Audio. The project saw a completely new theatre complex built on the site of the previous theatre in this picturesque Irish coastal town.

Three pairs of ICONYX IC16 loudspeakers, chosen for their combination of sound quality, digital steerability and compact dimensions, are installed, with one column of three concealed either side within the stage’s proscenium arch. Each left and right pair covers, respectively, the stalls and first and second balconies. The ICONYX units’ digital beam steering capabilities were used to precisely focus each loudspeaker on its allocated seating area during setup via the dedicated BeamWare software.

Originally specified purely for voice and "gentle" music reinforcement, the brief grew into a much more versatile system that, in conjunction with Renkus-Heinz self-powered PN212 subwoofers, delivers what Mapp describes as "genuine music reinforcement – with the subs I wouldn’t class it as merely ‘gentle’ but extremely good sound." Although the opera house is designed primarily around the annual Wexford Opera festival, the new ICONYX system’s ability to handle speech and full-range music broadens the commercial possibilities significantly.

Simon Cooper, Head of Projects for Northern Light, says: "The Iconyx loudspeakers were specified by Peter Mapp for several reasons, including the fact that the size of the unit allows them to fit ideally into the space either side of the pros arch. During the design process Peter also wanted to have more control over directivity from the main loudspeakers, rather than fit delay loudspeakers."

He adds "When we turned on the system we were very impressed with the extremely good audio coverage and quality, and our engineers were able to set up the ICONYX without any EQ being required."

The loudspeaker system, in conjunction with a Biamp Audia processor that provides delays and routing under Crestron touch screen control, allows the audio system to be reconfigured to suit the way the highly flexible auditorium is being used. Using the pit lift the forestage can be split into two and can either be held at stalls level to add extra seating, or raised to have a full stage.

In ‘full stage’ mode, the lower pair of IC16s is turned off and a pair of portable Renkus-Heinz ICONYX IC8s can be rigged further downstage, using hidden bracketry within wooden panelling. The same onetouch Crestron / Biamp control allows the pair of IC16s covering the upper tier to be turned off if required. Carr & Angier Theatre Consultants and Arup Acoustics were also closely involved in the auditorium’s design.