The new Hyogo Performing Arts Center, which opened October 22, in Japan, is intended to serve as a symbol of the cultural rebirth of the region a decade after the devastating Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake. Joining the management team late in its building process presented head of sound Akihiro Kaneko with a couple of challenges.

"The intention is for the Performing Arts Center to provide the citizens of Hyogo with a foundation facility; one that can be used to present all types of musical and stage performances," explains Kaneko. It is a new concept in public theatre and houses a state-of-the-art Grand hall (2,000 seats) capable of accommodating full-scale operas, ballets, and classical performances; a midsize hall (800 seats) suitable for plays and musicals; and an arena-type small hall (400 seats) for chamber music performances; as well as a rehearsal room.

Motoo Komada of Nagata Acoustics Inc. was commissioned to provide the acoustic design and consultation services. Naturally, the flagship Grand Hall received most attention in the original design brief. "The main requirement was for the natural acoustic of the room to have a relatively long reverberation tail, and in this instance 2.1 seconds in order to create an ideal environment for unamplified sound. For sound reinforcement it was also stipulated that the audio system should only be installed within the confines of the proscenium, and that this system should cover all stalls and balcony areas."

The Grand Hall is installed with a d&b audiotechnik C4 system, the Theater Hall with L'Acoustics, and the Recital Hall again with d&b as a mobile system. "The problem was fitting the main hall system; space within the proscenium did not allow for any realistic pro audio cabinet, even something relatively compact like the C4," Kaneko explains. "But its performance in providing a narrow and well controlled directivity was essential to avoid exciting a room with an already lively natural acoustic."

Kaneko continues, "After consultation, d&b audiotechnik Japan and the Otaritec Corporation proposed that we should use the skeletal form of the C4 loudspeaker, which we approved. The C4 is a stripped down version of the mid/high cabinet, no enclosure but the same horn structure; it still performs to the same specification as the C4 loudspeaker."

The permanent installed system is powered by 93 E-PAC amplifiers, which are all remotely controlled by the d&b Remote network using ROPE C. For special requirements there is also a mobile Q-Series system available to meet the specific requirements of various stage performances that can be used in either a stacked or flown arrangement.

Boris Rehders from d&b's central application support in Germany produced the detailed original EASE model from the architectural plans. He and Ralf Zuleeg optimized the positions and configuration of the loudspeaker systems in the model prior to their installation. Matsushita Electric Industrial, Ltd installed the PA system on behalf of lead contractor Panasonic.

"The main auditorium is a beautiful room with a marvellous acoustic for orchestral music, tuning the PA proved relatively easy once the loudspeakers were correctly positioned," comments Zuleeg, who recently returned from making the final adjustments to the system. "A little adjustment to the normal factory pre-set EQ of the low/mid was all that was required. For me, this hall is yet further evidence that amplified music reproduction and a relatively long reveberation tail do not have to be a contradiction, as long as both parts are perfectly matched."