DiGiCo Quantum 7s seamlessly integrate sound at revival performance of The Ballad of the Canal

The Ballad of the Canal (运河谣) is an opera exploring the stories of the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal. Created over 2500 years ago, the canal is a feat of engineering on par with the Great Wall of China. The opera entwines both classical Chinese and western styles of opera, integrating these different forms successfully alongside an unamplified orchestra required a thoughtful solution combining the venue’s existing SD5s and two additional DiGiCo Quantum 7s.

First performed at National Centre for Performing Arts (NCPA) in 2012, The Ballad of the Canal was the first original folk opera presented. The recent revival utilised head-worn radio mics to balance the operatic performances with an acoustic orchestra within the immersive sound system provided by L-Acoustics.

Two mirrored Quantum 7s backstage and two mirrored SD5s at the front of house position were connected via an optical network, providing the interfaces that engineers Wang Bin and Wang Lei needed to ensure the different styles of performance were able to sit together in Wang Bin’s immersive mix.

The auditorium speaker system is a permanently installed L-Acoustics L-ISA Immersive Hyperreal System. L-ISA source control via the SD5 and Quantum 7 consoles enables the systems to work together effortlessly. Functionality is natively integrated into DiGiCo’s SD and Quantum Range, adding L-ISA’s object-based mixing technology to the console control surface.

The NCPA already owned two DiGiCo SD5s and purchased two further Quantum 7s for this performance. The chorus was mixed on the Quantum7, and the mixes sent via the optical network to the SD5 at the front of house position. The performer radio mics were mixed directly from the front of house position. This approach gave both engineers the flexibility and control they needed to fully immerse their audiences in this unique experience, as Wang Lei explains:

“I personally feel that a good immersive audio system needs to fulfil three points: to increase artistic expression; give the user a greater space to re-create; and lastly to provide a deeper sense of spatial immersion,” he says. “With DiGiCo, these three characteristics are reflected in this opera, no matter if the source is near or far, the sound is clear and precise.”