Byteatern Kalmar County theatre expands its horizon with Soundscape.
Located in a former oil factory in the port of Kalmar, the Bytearten was originally founded in the early 1970s principally as a youth theatre. It grew very quickly and by the mid-90s it was designated the official county theatre for the county of Kalmar in southern Sweden where it became known for international exchange and experimental theatre. In 2017, having clearly outgrown itself, the venue underwent major renovation and expansion and was finally reopened to the public in September 2019 with a triumphal performance of an immersive, contemporary work, “Transformations” featuring game-changing audio via the brand-new d&b Soundscape system.
Whilst the renovation doubled the capacity of the main room, which has been built as a black box theatre, and added several other facilities, the maximum remains just two hundred seats. The new Byteatern is truly bijou in every sense and proud to take its place amongst names like the Finnish National Opera plus regular Soundscape users such as the UK’s iconic Royal Albert Hall and many top-ranking musical productions (Starlight Express, Lobby Hero, The Ship amongst others) staged in some of the world’s most prestigious venues.
Ove Karlsson, Byteatern’s Head of Sound sees no reason why small venues and intimate productions shouldn’t benefit from technology like Soundscape in exactly the same way as major world tours and concert venues. “Once I’d understood what Soundscape can do for us, it was the only way to go,” he declares. “Renovations of this scale which have seen us double our capacity, and where we have been able to replace all of our systems from the ground up won’t happen again for another 25 years, so it was now or never. I felt we really had to go for this.”
Karlsson and his co-head of sound, Linus Wileryd, were introduced to Soundscape by Paul Suchanek from Arva Trading, whom Karlsson had contacted for an initial quote on a standard L/R system. “We talked about it, but once Ove started describing what he really hoped to achieve, it seemed to me that a traditional stereo PA wasn’t going to be enough, so I introduced the idea of Soundscape,” recalls Suchanek. “Once he understood the concept, he never looked back.”
“If you think about a major arena with ten thousand seats and one person on stage talking, you know that it's impossible to really hear that person acoustically - you are only hearing the PA,” explains Karlsson. “However, in a small venue like Byteatern, if you have one actor or musician in the middle of the stage, you'll be hearing both the actor and the PA at the same time. For years the challenge has been to try and get away with that, but it's hard. With Soundscape, it's clear that you CAN finally make the PA 'disappear' so that the audience feels as if the sound is only coming from the person/people on stage, and yet still benefit from high quality amplified sound. Problem solved.
Soundscape on stage
“Our first show was definitely a bit of trial and error, partly because we were still getting to know the system and partly due to the nature of the show where the actors were moving between five different stages, and the audience was right in the middle of everything, but it still sounded great and worked beautifully.” reveals Karlsson. “This kind of performance would not have been possible without Soundscape which enabled the audience to follow the voices of the actors as they moved around the room.”
Paul Suchanek agrees: “The audience knew exactly who was speaking or singing. Musicians and actors were all blown away by the Soundscape system. Even though they performed directly in front of the speakers there was never any feedback and they were able to hear themselves clearly and in the right places.”
“We are immensely proud to be the first venue in Sweden with a Soundscape system,” concludes Karlsson. “This is truly the future of sound reinforcement and it enables us to do things that no other venue in Sweden can currently offer… We’ve invested in the future – it’s the only way to go.”