Austrian National Theatre Upgrades House Sound With SSL System T

The Burgtheater in Wien, Austria—also known as the Austrian National Theatre—is one of the most important German language theaters in the world. As part of a recent upgrade to its audio systems, the theatre has installed two System T audio mixing consoles from Solid State Logic (SSL) that can be networked together via a building-wide Dante Audio-over-IP network and SSL Network I/O system.

The SSL System T console was specified by David Müllner (Manager, Sound & Multimedia, Burgtheater), supplied by reseller TSAMM Professional Audio Solutions and installed by local systems integrator Klangfarbe Gmbh.

When Müllner started researching consoles back in 2012, the Burgtheater’s existing digital console was nearly 18 years old. It was time to replace the console with a networkable solution that was flexible enough to handle the 20 premiere productions staged during the year, all produced by theatre staff.

“As a repertory company, there is a different production on every day during our ten-month season,” Müllner said.

The Burgtheater currently has five SSL Network I/O SB 32.24 Dante Stageboxes (each with 32 mic/line inputs, 16 analogue line outputs and 8 digital inputs and outputs), four SSL SB i16s (16 mic/line inputs), and some additional output units from other manufacturers. The system latency across the whole network has been set at 1mS.

The SSL System T provides the flexibility to handle the 20 premiere productions staged during the year, all produced by theatre staff with different configurations.

The SSL System T provides the flexibility to handle the 20 premiere productions staged during the year, all produced by theatre staff with different configurations.

There are actually two separate System T consoles on the same network. The main system consists of two redundant Tempest Engines, a 32-fader S500 control surface permanently installed in the control room on the 1st floor, and two T-SOLSA PC-based online and offline control systems - one with its own Fader Tile. The second system has a single Tempest Engine and a “mobile” 32-fader S500 control surface that can be deployed anywhere in the Burgtheater. In addition, because both systems are on the same network and share the same Dante I/O devices, the theatre can potentially bring both systems to bear on a single production.

Müllner explains that how they use these components depends entirely on that day’s production. For some shows, the control room is ideal, though often for rehearsals the T-SOLSA system will be positioned in the auditorium behind the Director.

“I can do whatever I need to do directly on that console and when rehearsals are done I can move upstairs and do the show from upstairs without doing any file transfers or synchronisation,” he said. The mobile system is used for music-orientated productions, when there’s a distinct advantage to having the full control surface in the auditorium during the show.

Among the System T features that impressed Müllner is the integrated internal FX rack, the “augmented” standard path processing, and discrete fade times for snapshot transitions.

“For us, having integrated effects is new,” he said. “It is now possible to store everything in the show file, load it with the show file, and store changes in snapshots. From a practical point of view this makes a lot of sense. The less external gear I have to use, the less we have to do to load and run a show. Also, having two dynamics processes available to a signal path is very useful. I often need a compressor and a de-esser in the same path for voice processing. That’s something that was very difficult before.”

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