David Claringbold, the Sound and AV Coordinator at the Sydney Opera House, is the man entrusted with anticipating future audio systems' requirements. "There is a very conscious move to bring a wider range of people into the Sydney Opera House, to experience it, be touched by it and enriched by it. We are now laying the technical foundation to achieve this in terms of recorded, broadcast and multimedia works," said Claringbold. The first piece of the puzzle was announced in January 2002, when a Euphonix System 5 digital audio mixing console was purchased for use in the Opera Theatre.

The System 5 was installed in April 2002, replacing an eleven-year-old front-of-house console that had been struggling to keep up for some time. The Sydney Dance Company's production of Graeme Murphy's "Ellipse" was the first show in the Opera Theatre to benefit from the System 5.

"The System 5 was the one that answered all the questions - it's a chameleon; you can configure it to do whatever you want," explained Claringbold. "What we've now installed is some very elegant hardware with enormous processing capabilities, but it is the software that really makes the difference and keeps the whole thing future-proof. The software keeps the hardware current."

With more than 2,300 indoor and outdoor performance events a year and up to six performances and rehearsals each day in the Opera Theatre alone, one of the most critical requirements was for rapid reconfiguration and storage of presets to re-stage productions possibly weeks or months apart.

Severin Sieben, the Opera Theatre Sound Supervisor is the man whose hands spend the most time on the System 5. "The Euphonix System 5 is exceeding all our expectations," said Sieben."Because the opera works in repertory, there are rehearsals every morning and different shows going on every night, up to six every week. Previously, we actually had to write down in great detail the position of every knob, switch and fader and then manually reset the entire console. With the System 5 we can store setups, and then flick between shows, scenes, even recall old shows, all with the greatest of ease. It means we can guarantee a client that the same thing is going to happen at every show and that nothing will go wrong."

The Sydney Opera House and the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall in Taipei are the first two performance venues in the world to take delivery of a System 5. The console has already been enormously successful in the broadcast, film and music recording sectors with over 100 units sold since its introduction in late 1999.