Maxim Gorki Theater relies on Lawo IP audio technology

20.11.2019 - 15:44

In autumn 2019, the Maxim Gorki Theater (MGT) adopted a new audio infrastructure. Central to this is a Lawo mc²96 production console as FOH console in the main hall, and a Lawo mc²56 console ...

Founded in 1952, the Maxim Gorki Theater is Berlin's smallest with 440 seats, and regards itself as a ‘contemporary city theater in a historic setting’. In the 2014 and 2016 surveys conducted by ‘theater heute’ magazine, German-speaking critics voted Gorki Theater of the Year (together with the Berlin Volksbühne in 2016), and in 2015, it was one of the first winners of the new Theater Award of Germany.

In autumn 2019, the Maxim Gorki Theater (MGT) adopted a new audio infrastructure. Central to this is a Lawo mc²96 production console as FOH console in the main hall, and a Lawo mc²56 console that serves as a backup and a remote console for the preparation of new projects. The mc²56 is also used as a recording console for the venue’s in-house recording studio.

A Nova73 compact serves as the setup’s central router with five DALLIS units available as stageboxes, two of which can be used mobile in combination with the mc²56, or on stage. Further DALLIS units are located where most of the inputs and outputs are needed, in the orchestra pit and in the basement (Amp-City). The ‘local inputs and outputs’ at the rear of the two consoles are also used both in the FOH area and in the recording studio. Unusually, the theater’s recording studio and a small studio stage are located in the neighboring building complex.

Head of sound and video department, Christopher von Nathusius, was responsible for the modernization of the theater’s audio technology, together with his team and planning support from Gunter Lühder of Avissplan. Elektroakustik Neuenhagen carried out the project work.

For Christopher von Nathusius, reliability was the most important consideration when choosing the new system – and, in this respect, mixing consoles which run reliably in 24/7 radio operation for years have a competitive advantage. The system installed in the Gorki is also highly redundant – covering the power supply, the availability of at least two units per card type, and comprehensive console compatibility.

‘A decisive advantage of the Lawo system for us is that, in the event of a failure of the FOH console in the hall, the backup console can take over relatively quickly,’ notes von Nathusius. The system's high-end technology provides for a best-before date of well over a decade, so that it can play up front until the next call for tenders. Maximum flexibility means that the wishes of the artistic director and the directors, as well as future requirement profiles for theater technology, can be met in the long-term.

In addition to these reasons, the decision to go with Lawo was based primarily on the extensive customization options for respective users. A single push of a button is all it takes to change the entire rights management between the mc²96, the router and the mc²56 as required. In this way, the FOH console (mc²96) can, for example, enable the studio console (mc²56) to control the trim levels of the microphone inputs used in the hall.

Other advantages include free assignment of the user buttons for quick access to the most important functions, the control of the Next Scene function via MIDI, the Sends to Fader function, fast channel bundling, and easy tracking of complex routings in a modular design. Despite this high level of complexity, the system’s intelligent function menus allow parameters to be called up with a minimum of operating steps. This promotes an intuitive understanding of the functional principle and console structure.

The ability to port projects from the mc²96 to the mc²56 makes it possible to prepare or post-process productions with limited rehearsal time and no stage time. ‘Without this feature, we would not have been able to resume our complete repertoire – currently well over 30 pieces on the Gorki stage – in such a short time without disrupting the performances and rehearsals.

The sound engineers of the Maxim Gorki Theater are equally impressed: "Four fully parametric EQs on the Lawo are able to do what used to require six EQs," says sound engineer Yavuz Akbulut.

Fellow sound engineer Hannes Ziegler shares his enthusiasm: "The quick access to all parameters via the console interface is remarkable.” He says. “A complete user interface can be built in no time at all with just a few keystrokes. I was also immediately impressed by the forward/reverse routing function."

Lawo consoles are increasingly used for live concerts, musical productions, sophisticated classical music festivals (in combination with d&b Soundscape) and renowned festivals. Options such as double-fader modules specially designed for theater and live use make working in the sweet spot easy.