Zwaag -- One of Germany's most famous cinemas, Schauburg Kino & Theater in Karlsruhe, at the foot of the Black Forest, is one of the few cinemas left in the world which can show 70mm films. As well as being able to accommodate earlier technology it also features the most modern developments, the latest of which is an Alcons Audio system.
Opened in 1927, the cinema's decor has remained essentially the same since a major refurbishment in 1968, which saw a large, curved screen installed and the capability of showing 70mm ‘Todd-AO' format films. As a format that has become a cult favourite amongst cinema enthusiasts, this has ensured that the venue continues to be extremely popular.
But this is not the only reason for its fame. Behind the evocative chandeliers and velvet curtains, an ongoing programme of technical modernisation has seen the latest formats running alongside 70mm screenings. For instance, it was the first cinema in the city to install Digital 2k projection and the ability to show 3-D movies.
And it is not just the visuals that are cutting edge - a recent upgrade to its audio system has seen five Alcons CR4 cinema front systems, tri-amped with ALC2 amplified loudspeaker controllers and SDP processing, installed.
"The previous system was installed in 1992 and was one of the more advanced speaker systems of its time. However, by modern standards the system lacked the proper punch in the upper bass frequency range. The horn reached its limit at higher reproduction levels, resulting in increased distortion and harshness," says Herbert Born, the venue's managing director.
"Both became a problem with demanding newer mixes in uncompressed audio, but also with magnetic 70mm sound tracks when played loudly."
The Schauburg technical team examined a range of options but, being highly satisfied with an Alcons CR1 system installed in the venue's smaller screen, they were 100% confident that the CR4 system would deliver a major improvement in sound to the main house.
(Schauburg / Alcons press cont'd)
Working closely with Alcons Audio Germany's Carsten Albrecht, the system was specified by Gunter Oehme of contractors Filmton und Kinotechnik. It is a unique installation, with the system mounted in bespoke movable towers.
The house has a huge stage which, with the screen removed, is also used for live performances. Because of this, the loudspeakers are mounted in towers that can easily be moved into different positions. This allows them to be used for both cinema showings and live productions.
"As it doesn't have a baffle wall, the stage can cause acoustic problems like excessive reverb if it is excited too much. The Alcons system works very well without a baffle wall and has also made a significant difference to evening out the SPL differences between the front and rear of the theatre," says Herbert.
The versatility of the Alcons system has been clearly demonstrated by the improvement in sound for both film screenings and live productions. Cinema enthusiasts are renowned for their high expectations and the new system has met with universal approval.
"The sound improvement is obvious," Herbert continues. "Overall the sound is much more natural, music really sounds purer on such a high-end system.
"Colouring of the sound and distortion, which are typical for many cinema sound systems - for example when violins are playing - are completely gone. And with high sound levels, it just gets loud, not distorted.
"The sound localization has also greatly improved, due to improved time alignment and better coverage of the auditorium. We are very happy with it."