L-Acoustics Brings Sonic Perfection to Teatro Municipal de Viña del Mar L-Acoustics Brings Sonic Perfection to Teatro Municipal de Viña del Mar...
VGL installs Kara system at one of Chile’s most iconic theatres, bringing powerful SPL, and a lightweight, diminutive form factor to a beautifully restored, earthquake-damaged venue
Santiago, Chile – June 2022 – The Chilean city of Viña del Mar is renowned for its colonial architecture, pulsing nightlife, and the annual Festival Internacional de la Canción de Viña del Mar (Viña del Mar International Song Festival). Coupled with a Mediterranean climate and beautiful, abundant greenery, the city, nicknamed Jardín Ciudad (Garden City), is one of the country’s most-visited spots. In 2010, a devastating 8.8 magnitude earthquake severely damaged some of the city’s iconic buildings, including the heritage site Teatro Municipal of Viña del Mar. Today, not only has the Teatro been fully restored, but it’s also attaining new heights of sonic perfection with the most advanced L-Acoustics Kara sound system in the country, delivered by L-Acoustics Certified Provider Distributor for Chile, VGL.
Built between 1925 and 1930 by famous architects Renato Schiavon and Aquiles Landoff, the Teatro Municipal de Viña del Mar stuns with a façade decorated with friezes, cornices, and columns and an interior filled with sculptures and decorations of carved and molded plaster. Following the earthquake damage, a painstaking restoration using the original designs was also the opportunity to install a modern technical infrastructure. With over 30 years of experience in professional audio, video, and lighting solutions, VGL is one of Chile’s top integrators and has the right team and equipment to work on this challenging project.
“Our team first became involved in the tender process for the entire technical installation in 2013 when the local municipality approved the renovation works,” recalls Cristian Osorio, Live Audio Solutions and Installations at VGL. “We worked with Alex Soto from L-Acoustics to create initial pre-designs for a new sound system for the theatre’s auditorium.”
Unfortunately, the earthquake had done more damage to the structure of the building than was initially thought, which created a serious delay. It was not until 2019 that the theatre’s technical team was able to re-visit the tender process, again inviting VGL to share their ideas.
“While we were waiting for the project to be reinstated, we improved on the initial design. This meant that when we finally went back to the theatre to present our work, we were sure we had a winning design,” says Osorio.
The theatre’s team had conducted independent research into various loudspeaker manufacturers and was aware of L-Acoustics’ undisputed reputation. The theatre’s technical manager, Julio Lobos, was also impressed with the design Osorio and Soto presented.
One of the key concerns the theatre’s team raised from the very beginning was avoiding structural damage to the building. For this, Kara offered the best solution. “Kara’s lightweight, compact form factor and consistently powerful SPL satisfied all the team’s requirements; they just loved that such a compact system can be so sonically powerful,” Osorio recalls. “The team also required local support, and having VGL based in Chile offered them reassurance and extra peace of mind.”
Before the installation, a special earthquake-contingent metal structure was created to hold the Kara system in place above the stage. An additional metal frame further strengthened this to ensure that both the cabinets and the rest of the building would move in the same direction in the event of another strong earthquake.
“Often, when the ground shakes during powerful earthquakes, the building structure also starts rocking. The static weight of the Kara system could potentially transform into a dynamic weight, swaying in the opposite direction to the rest of the theatre building, creating a real danger to the soundness of the structure,” explains Osorio. “To ensure that the system would move in the same direction, we installed the second frame within the original metal structure and added four motors from German manufacturer Movecat, which can handle weight ten times that of the Kara system.”
The final design comprises left/right hangs of 12 L-Acoustics Kara per side, with a further two hangs of four SB18 subs flown next to each hang of Kara. Front-fill is delivered by six 5XT evenly distributed across the stage lip. Twelve 5XT are distributed under the balcony, and another four are used for delays. The system is managed by an L-Acoustics P1 processor, with five LA12X amplified controllers driving the PA. An LA4X for the front-fill and another LA4X were deployed for the delays. The amplified controllers are connected to an AVB data point through either an AES or analog signal.
The stage monitor system consists of 15 X12 cabinets, four ARCS Focus, four SB18 subs for side-fills, plus an SB15 sub for trim-fill. The monitor system is controlled by LA12X and LA4X. “There is literally no other theatre in Chile with so many X12 floor monitors available. We are completely unique in that way,” says Osorio.
Working on the project during the pandemic added additional challenges but involving the theatre’s technical team from the start ensured its success. “The team was there throughout the process and became increasingly familiar with the system,” explains Osorio. “With Kara being such an easy-to-use-and-maintain system, we only needed to provide a bit of extra training once its final calibration is complete.”
The reaction from the staff and the Municipality has been spectacular, with the Teatro opening to the public in the second quarter of 2022.
“We saw a lot of surprised faces when we played the system to the theatre’s team and visitors from the municipality for the first time,” smiles Osorio. “People just couldn’t believe that this building, which is almost a century old and previously severely damaged, could sound that good. The Mayor of Viña del Mar attended, and she was left speechless. Knowing that we have delivered a system that is the absolute best and is advanced both technologically and sonically is exciting beyond words. We can’t wait to hear what the public thinks when the theatre finally re-opens. We’re sure there will be more excited and awe-struck faces!”