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Alcons adds audio excellence to historic premiere cinema

A German cinema which is historically notable for its film premieres has brought its public address system up to the high standard of its projection technology with help from Alcons Audio.

The Lichtburg, a historic cinema in the center of Essen, in North Rhine-Westphalia, houses Germany’s largest cinema hall with 1,250 seats. During the 50s and 60s the Lichtburg was one of the most important premiere cinemas of the Federal Republic. And even today, creative people and distributors are once again using the historic ambience of the cinema for their glamorous premieres.

The demands on such a premiere cinema are high. The projection technology of the hall was already up to date. In January 2018, finally, the public address system was also renewed. “With the renovation of the cinema sound system we want to live up to the increased expectations of our visitors,” said Marianne Menze, managing director of Essen Filmkunsttheater GmbH and since 1998 operator of the Lichtburg.

Since the landmark architecture of Lichtburg clearly deviates from that of a standard cinema, a special solution was needed. A pro-ribbon Cinemarray CRA30 of Dutch sound system manufacturer Alcons Audio was installed, which optimally covers the very large hall with its curved balcony.

The Cinemarray CRA30 is a 3-way sound system designed for digital applications in large premium cinemas that demand the highest quality with perfect sound reproduction and coverage. Featuring three patented RBN401 pro-ribbon drivers, Alcons’ CRA30 combines a remarkable clarity with an “uncompressed” linear response at every sound pressure level.

The patented horizontal dispersion extends the stereo image to a larger number of seats in the hall. Through the use of line-source technology throughout the system, a flat SPL coverage from front to back is realised. The precise projection minimises unwanted acoustic reflections and the line-array technology also ensures an impressive throw on and under the balcony, offering a significant performance improvement compared to the previous speaker system.

Behind the 150 sq m roll-up screen are three arrays consisting of 2 x Alcons CRA30N (narrow) and 1 x CRA30W (wide). Two Alcons CB362 (2 x 18in’ bass) placed on the ground are responsible for the LFE-channel. All systems are driven and controlled by a total of five Alcons Sentinel10 amplified loudspeaker controllers, and each CRA30 module is operated with two amplifier channels.

“In contrast to the traditional appearance, the Lichtburg has always aspired to be technically on the latest and the highest quality level possible,” said Menze. “This is what our visitors expect, and this is also one of the basic prerequisites for the establishment of the Lichtburg as one of the leading premiere venues in Germany. As a result, it soon became clear that only a correspondingly sophisticated installation would be suitable for us. ”

Since the large screen of the Lichtburg can be rolled up, the cinema hall can also be used for theatre performances, cabaret, concerts and presentations. Here, too, the Alcons pro-ribbon Cinemarray system fully exploits its strengths. “Of course we were also happy to install a system that is also perfectly suitable for stage events, thus eliminating the absolute need to hire equipment,” said Menze.

Since the beginning of the year, the new sound system has now been used without exception. “The new Cinemarray system means a big leap forward in terms of homogeneity of the sound in all places. Especially here is the Lichtburg with its very challenging classic balcony architecture. But also in other respects significant improvements could be achieved: for example, the speech intelligibility has clearly gained again, but also the dynamic reserves and the resolution of the sound are immediately noticeable. ”

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