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AX32 User Story

Golden Network Audio Solution at La Seine Musicale’s Riffx Studios in Paris

You might almost suspect that three of our AX32 units reside inside the walls of Paris’ new live venue, La Seine Musicale, because someone wanted a perfect color-match. Obviously, this is not the reason why…

Yes, by night the impressive La Seine Musicale has a golden shine to it. But of course, the actual reason why you will find several of our products in there is rooted in functionality and optimization of pro audio workflows.

La Seine Musicale is a relatively new venue that actually resides in the middle of The Seine – on a small island. It was completed in 2017 and is hosting concerts comprising Classical, Jazz, World, Pop, Rock, etc., as well as musicals, ballets, comedy and corporate events all around the year.

And right from the start, there was a strong vision to have studio recording and rehearsal space facilities integrated as a permanent part of the building.

Therefore, Christophe Briquet of SBO Production Studios joined forces with La Seine Musicale to rent the space that would be allocated for studio sessions and rehearsals and set out to build everything from the ground up. To do the actual design of the studio, Hugues Borsarello was in charge and he made all of the technical and gear-related decisions in the process. Apart from being an amazing studio designer with deep knowledge in the world of recording music, Borsarello is also a famous and highly gifted violinist.

A Vision of Flexibility

As soon as the conceptualization had taken shape, there was no doubt that in a setup with several studios, live rooms and the main halls in play, flexibility would be key in order to really take advantage of these superior physical surroundings.

Therefore, it quickly became clear that the best – and also the cheapest – way to ensure easy connectivity from every potential recording space to the control room would be to install a building-wide network of Ethernet cables and connection ports. It was simply the ideal way to route high counts of audio channels between locations.

An IP Audio solution was simply a must – and following careful considerations, the team decided to go for Audinate’s Dante AoIP protocol.


Building Rooms for the Arts

La Seine Musicale is simply a stunning building – a beautiful hub for a multitude of arts to unite, co-exist, collaborate and not least flourish. For instance, the main concert hall has the capacity for a seated audience of 4,000 and as many as 6,000 in a combination of standing and seated visitors.

Further, a mechanical stage allows for a complete transformation in order to meet the various demands depending on the type of event – such as theatrical performances, conferences, concerts, etc.

The Auditorium has exceptional acoustics – carefully optimized for non-amplified music. It can host up to 1,150 spectators and is mostly dedicated to classical music and other acoustic music genres.

Now, the dedicated recording studio, which was named Riffx Studios, consists of four recording rooms of 80 m2, 180 m2, 250 m2 and 350 m2 respectively. The size of the ‘Big Room’ and the acoustics of the recording studio offer the ability to work with both the largest orchestras and the biggest recording setups, choosing the room with the best acoustics for the project in question.

In short, Riffx Studios now records music for a wide variety of projects, including film scores, classical orchestras, jazz, world music and much more.


The Network, The AX32’s & The Benefits

riffx-arnaudNow that the main framework for this case study has been established, it is time to dive into how our AX32 units, installed by Videlio Cap’ciné and delivered by Areitec, were integrated at very central points in the studio infrastructure. Unsurprisingly, the Dante AoIP network needs a versatile interface to connect all kinds of sources – a description of a problem to which AX32 is simply a perfect match.

But before we get into the details of that, we had the pleasure of visiting La Seine Musicale and Riffx Studios where we got the chance to talk to the main engineer Arnaud Kalmes. And the first thing we wanted to learn more about was how and why the decision for implementing an audio network was made.

“The implementation of a Dante Network was decided upon as soon as the building was conceptualized in full,” Arnaud states. “All studios, rooms and concert halls needed to be linked through Ethernet and fiber optic networks.

The Dante protocol simply seemed to be the ideal solution, as it would allow us to record in any room or concert hall in the building via a single Ethernet cable. If we had chosen a fully analog configuration, it would not only have been much harder, but also more expensive to be able to offer the same possibilities for our clients.”

With this ingenious and completely networked infrastructure in place, the interfacing had to be designed. As it turned out, two rolling racks were put together, each holding an AX32 and a bunch of XLR connector panels, feeding the D-Sub ports of the unit which virtually makes each rack a portable high-end stagebox that also acts as an A/D converter, as well as the link to the Dante network.

One of the AX32 units is equipped with 32 analog inputs, 8 analog outputs and 8 AES inputs/outputs. The other unit has 16 analog inputs, 8 analog outputs and 8 AES inputs/outputs.

These racks can easily – and freely – be moved to any room or hall in which a recording session is scheduled. No matter what the location, a single Ethernet cable from the rack to a network port in the wall routes all of the channels to the control room in which another AX32 unit is gathering the audio streams. From that point onward, the DADman software’s audio-routing matrix can simply distribute and redistribute to any destination, including Pro Tools, monitors, redundant recordings, etc.

“We have 4 studios where we record daily, but we can also record in other studios and concert halls of La Seine Musicale,” Arnaud explains and continues. “Every space is linked to the building’s network which lets us record in our control room from any location. We use several stage racks containing the AX32 on a daily basis. We simply roll the unit in the studio and patch it up to the wall.

The Ethernet connectors from all of the studios are then accessible through a patchbay node room from which we link our DAD AX32 in the control room, giving access to all input sources. We can also record simultaneously from different studios – all we have to do is roll another rack into another studio and patch it up to the network. In fact, we have recently recorded a film score this way: Strings were in studio 1, while winds were in studio 2. We just had to use two AX32’s.

And if we need more I/O capacity in the future, it’s really just a matter of adding yet another AX32 and linking it to the network. The solution is as future-proof as it is flexible.”

Apart from the AX32, the studio is based around a Pro Tools HD system, running on a Mac. For hands-on control, an Avid S6 with 32 faders is installed, and there are plans for adding one of our MOM hardware monitor controllers to the setup soon.

The monitors in the studio are a combination of several speaker brands to form both a complete 5.1 surround system and a stereo setup. For the surround system, the Left, Right and Center channels are Focal SM9 with Focal Solo 6 as the rear speakers, and finally a Genelec 7270 AP sub handles the low end. For stereo mixing, Riffx relies on Neumann KH 120 A and ProAc Studio 100 monitors, and for headphone mixing, a KLANG:technologies Quelle headphone preamp is also connected via Dante IP Audio.

In terms of creating the various production workflows on a daily basis, AX32 and the DADman control software once again comes into play “We use the DADman application to create presets for different recording sessions. This allows us to do very quick recalls between sessions and also save new settings that can be recalled at any time.

That way, the sound engineers, who come in to work here, can save their own settings, leave for a year and find their entire setup when they come back.

In short, all of our studios gravitate around the DAD AX32’s. The routing options are unbelievable, the software needs a little time to get used to, but once it’s done, it’s a terrific tool. And the preamps and converters are excellent.”

We always take great pride in being able to facilitate flexible audio-routing, top-notch conversion and transparent preamplification that make a real difference to the artists and the audio professionals, who work with the gear every day.

And learning that the dedicated crew at Riffx had decided to implement – and now benefits from – all of these things just left us with a smiling face when we parted after a great day literally in the middle of The Seine in lovely Paris!

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