Commercial Integrator Europe interviews Michel Deluc, director of research and development at Amadeus, who opens up about the recent custom install for the prestigious Philharmonie de Paris concert hall’s studios, using tailor-made Amadeus loudspeakers
Amadeus has announced the completion of an impressive install and acoustical design project for the Philharmonie de Paris concert hall studios. Having already created the custom ‘Philharmonia’ speakers specifically for the install, Amadeus recently installed detailed acoustical treatment and monitoring systems into the Paris concert hall studios, managed by acoustician Michel Deluc, co-founder and R&D manager for Amadeus brands.
Amadeus Labs collaborated with the studio’s sound engineers on the project, while continuing to work alongside Jean Nouvel, the Philharmonie de Paris’ very own architect and designer.
Built to immortalise the performances of the world’s most prestigious symphonic orchestras, the Philharmonie de Paris mixing and mastering studios required a monitoring system of upmost transparency, placed in the highest-level optimised acoustic spaces.
“Our collaboration with the Philharmonie de Paris began in 2011 with the development of 14 customised point source speakers for the acoustical canopy of the Symphonic Hall,” Michel tells CIE.
“The custom-made and standard equipment we developed, built and installed in the various spaces inside the Philharmonie de Paris (including the large rehearsal space, education and musical initiation rooms, music exhibition room, surround sound studios and grand symphonic hall) were submitted to competitive bidding following regular public market procedures.”
Amadeus was approved after comparative listening tests by users, administrators, scenographers and other decision-makers within the Philharmonie de Paris.
“The collaboration with Jean Nouvel on the ‘Philharmonia’ project started after the main process of electroacoustical development started,” he continues. “The new speakers’ genesis actually dates back to 2005. At that time, I was beginning my experimentations with hybrid acoustic loads, based on mass-spring-mass systems. The curved shape of Philharmonia, ending with this unique hybrid, laminated port machined in wood, originates in his findings. An advanced version of the Philharmonia speakers were submitted in 2014 to the Philharmonie de Paris future users for comparative listening tests.
“The new speakers immediately showed the distinguished the intrinsic characteristics of the greatest monitoring systems: timbral transparency, extended bandwidth, perfect impulse response, wide and accurate stereo image, outstanding layering of sound planes – all crowned by remarkable dynamics,” Michel elaborates.
“The distinctive construction technique of Philharmonia helps neutralise standing waves affecting sonic clarity and low-frequency definition, through an extremely complex internal structure using a combination of interlocking panels arranged in two perpendicular planes, each hosting several tuned notch resonators”
“We subsequently asked the team of Ateliers Jean Nouvel to work on the system’s aesthetics in order to find the best way to bring out the basic speaker aesthetics, as well as create the associated pedestal. The first two ideas suggested by Jean Nouvel were key: a pedestal that furthers the shape of the speaker, creating a monolithic sonic ensemble housing all the electronics, and building the speaker out of thin wood veneers, glued and carefully aligned.”
Having acoustics and electro-acoustics match up is a basic premise of the manufacturer’s design philosophy when designing and outfitting spaces dedicated to creation, mixing, mastering, postproduction or dubbing, or just high-level listening, among other tasks.
The main Philharmonie de Paris rehearsal room hosts not only public orchestra rehearsals, but also pre-concert events, conferences and chamber music/amplified music concerts. The ‘Studio Salle de Répétition’ is equipped with a tailor-made acoustical treatment, very similar to the treatment used in the ‘Studio Grande Salle’. Each studio is equipped with a unique surround monitoring system, made up of five Amadeus Philharmonia speakers, along with an Amadeus ‘ML 15 D’ subwoofer.
The Philharmonia features a curved structure that is both simple and complex, consisting of 547 wood veneers accurately machined and assembled, offering a distinctive look and volume. It features a unique hybrid laminar port using progressive termination.
The acoustics Michel designs encompass various techniques he acquired, imagined and developed during the last 30 years whilst designing various complex spaces.
“The distinctive construction technique of Philharmonia helps neutralise standing waves affecting sonic clarity and low-frequency definition, through an extremely complex internal structure using a combination of interlocking panels arranged in two perpendicular planes, each hosting several tuned notch resonators,” Michel explains.
“The aerodynamics of Philharmonia speakers’ tuning port is a masterpiece”
“This allows a dramatic decrease in sound coloration through a crossed structure of longitudinal and trans-verse reinforcements. Having acoustics and electro-acoustics match up is a basic premise of our design philosophy when designing and outfitting spaces dedicated to creation, mixing, mastering, postproduction or dubbing, or just high-level listening, among other tasks.
“Our inclusive approach and dual expertise have made us able to create perfectly imagined spaces where the acoustical response has been perfected, ready to house the monitoring systems we design in parallel. We have many successes in the field of acoustical and/or electro-acoustical custom design.”
The complexity of the project lay in its heterogeneous and diverse aspects. The Philharmonie de Paris building complex includes a variety of spaces dedicated to creation, each of them bearing their own acoustical, technical and aesthetical properties.
“At the core of this set of spaces is the symphonic hall with its capacity of 2,400 seats,” Michel states. “A number of spaces are situated around the hall, including two large rehearsal rooms, five medium size rehearsal rooms, 10 rehearsal studios, a temporary exhibition space, a conference room, two recording studios. Hence, every stage of the process, from preparation, development, implementation or in-situ calibration – was different and dedicated to each of the spaces.”
“Imagine a reference sound system with exceptional design, ergonomics and acoustics,” enthuses Bernard BYK, CEO at Amadeus, reflecting on the new Philharmonia speakers. “Jean Nouvel’s imagination, exuberance and creative genius, combined with Michel Deluc’s engineering, brought a brilliant solution to life. Amadeus especially praises tradition, and the new speakers combine innovation as well as timeless beauty; christened ‘Philharmonia’, they embody the know-how, the creativity, and the values with which Amadeus has been building its history for more than 35 years.”
“The aerodynamics of Philharmonia speakers’ tuning port is a masterpiece,” Michel nods. “It has been largely empirical – inspired by aesthetic aspects – and based on hybrid low-velocity laminar ports using progressive termination. This leads to a rather complex and major technological innovation, whose theory is still in its infancy.”
Equipment installed in the ‘Studio Grande Salle’
* Amadeus Labs designed Helmholtz resonator, placed in front of the room, to control sub-bass frequencies
* Amadeus Labs designed diaphragm-based resonator, placed in front of the room, including two low-Q subsets [the first is tuned to 100Hz, the second to 56Hz].
* Dual Amadeus Labs designed hybrid diffusors, placed on the sides of the room, including three nested subsets (diaphragm-based resonator, wide range absorber, diffusor), treating the frequencies between 200Hz and 1000Hz.
* Three Amadeus Labs designed diaphragm-based resonators placed at the read of the room [two are tuned to 100Hz, the third to 84Hz].
* Two Amadeus Labs designed diaphragm-based resonator placed at the rear sides, tuned to 100Hz.
* Amadeus Labs designed hybrid diaphragm-based resonator including two superposed subsets (diaphragm-based resonator, mid-frequency absorber), treating the frequencies between 150Hz and 600Hz, is placed behind every Philharmonia monitor, to attenuate the residual energy emitted by their vent.
* Two diffusors placed on the sides of the room, treating the frequencies between 1500Hz and 6000Hz.
- Acoustically optimised furniture, with low acoustical footprint, hosting a ‘Lawo mc2 56’ digital mixing console.
The ‘Philharmonia’ speakers: In Depth
The new Philharmonia two-way, self-powered speakers feature a 28-mm soft-dome tweeter and a custom 8in woofer, and boast analogue and digital inputs with a customised integrated DAC and an amplitude linearity range (±2dB) from 43Hz to 22KHz. The high-frequency driver features very low dielectric losses and high thermal conductivity, loaded behind a fast exponential waveguide machined in wood, which yields exceptional control over spatial dispersion.
The cabinets are custom manufactured from layered Birch and stand 1.6m tall, the casing contains the electronics inside the lower part of the speaker enclosure. Each speaker is comprised of 547 wood veneers, accurately machined, aligned and glued.
Each speaker features a hybrid laminar port using progressive termination for reproducing low frequencies. Machined into the wood material along the full height of the speaker system, the very low velocity port yields optimal linearity for the lowest possible distortion.
Philharmonia is bi-amplified using two dedicated very high resonance digital custom-built amplifiers, each amp delivers 700W under 8ohms. These proprietary PPM-PWM fixed frequency class-D amplifiers are equipped with a high-efficiency switched mode power supply. Each speaker channel is under control by a powerful, 64-bit digital processing unit capable of a 118dB dynamic range.
Each of these on-board DSP units include a module dedicated to managing core system parameters including system EQ, time alignment between sections, limiting, transducer thermal protection. This level of control makes Philharmonia fully protected and able to operate at the full extent of its abilities.
With line-level XLR analogue input, Philharmonia lets users choose their own DAC, while at the same time, given that digital-to-analogue conversion should happen at the latest possible stage in an electro-acoustical monitoring system, Philharmonia also integrates two digital inputs/outputs conforming to the AES3 digital audio data transfer standard.
These are coupled with a high-resolution 24-bit/96kHz converter placed as close as possible to the electronic amplifiers, thus working together in perfect combination. The speakers also feature an RJ-45 network input allowing remote control of its DSP processor for optimal adjustment via dedicated software to match the speakers to the acoustical properties of each listening space. The software is an app that runs on Apple Macintosh and iPad, and Microsoft Windows computers.
As always, a huge part of speaker design is the components.
“They have been carefully selected, evaluated, listened to, and combined,” Michel explains. “The amplifier includes a built-in DSP module, with digital filtering functions such as system EQ, time alignment between HF and LF sections, limiter parameters, thermal protection of the transducers, and more.” He adds a personal note about the low-frequency port, “The aerodynamics of Philharmonia’s tuning ports is a masterpiece. It has been largely empirical, inspired by aesthetic aspects, and based on hybrid low-velocity laminar ports using progressive termination. This leads to a rather complex and major technological innovation, whose theory is still in its infancy.”