Grimaldi Forum’s unique sound system gets an upgrade

The Salle des Princes auditorium at the Grimaldi Forum boasts one of the rarest state-of-the-art sound systems in the world, and it’s just been revamped, for the benefit of performers and the audience alike.

The unsung hero of any event is the sound design.

Every performance, and each type of music, requires a different type of sound environment, taking into account things such as reverberation time which vary depending on whether it’s a rock concert, an opera, a ballet or a conference.

In 2000, the Salle des Princes was equipped with a sound system found in only 10 other places worldwide. Called the CARMEN system, a French acronym for Active Control of Reverberation by a Natural Effect Virtual Wall, it is designed and developed by CSTB acousticians, and features an electroacoustic system based on the principle of active virtual walls. Thanks to these virtual walls, it is possible to change the reverberation of the room according to the show to reach the ideal acoustics without amplification systems.

The CARMEN system recently underwent a major upgrade, and was tested in the presence of local media on Wednesday 4th May.

Photo: Grimaldi Forum Monaco

The system allows for different configurations which enable it to be adapted to each specific scenario, making for pitch perfection every time.

“It is no longer the artists that adapt their performance to the concert hall, it is the concert hall that adapts to the artists’ performance,” says the Grimaldi Forum. “This innovative technology immerses musicians, speakers and spectators in an acoustic space that offers the best sound experience, regardless of where you sit in the room.” This is made possible by implementing about 30 cells, each consisting of a microphone, an electronic filter unit, a powerful amplifier and a loudspeaker. These cells arranged in virtual walls are distributed on the walls of the room and on the ceiling, the whole being controlled by a digital audio station.

Microphone and speaker placement ensures natural acoustics for any type of event.

For Sylvie Biancheri, General Manager of the Grimaldi Forum Monaco, the system is a dream. “The Carmen system provides ideal acoustics that allow us to offer quality and diversified events. Our resident artists, be it the Philharmonic Orchestra, the Opera, the Printemps des Arts or the Ballets de Monte-Carlo, have been unanimous for 20 years on the added value of this technology. This system upgrade will delight them, as it will continue to attract and appeal to all of our clients and partners who organise high quality events in the Salle des Princes.”

The first performances to take advantage of the upgraded system are coming up from 3rd to 6th June for the Ballets de Monte-Carlo Summer Season opener of Jean-Christophe Maillots Coppél-i.A.


Photo source: Grimaldi Forum Monaco