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Alcons provides surround sound for theme park journey

French theme park Futuroscope has opened a new €11m AV experience featuring an Alcons Audio C-series surround system for the soundtrack and sound effects.

Originally opened in 1992 under the name of The Magic Carpet, the multi-million Euro update of Futuroscope’s IMAX cinema has seen it reinvented as L’Extraordinaire Voyage (The Extraordinary Journey). Spectators sit in a triple row of seats on a platform, which turns vertical (so the rows are now sitting above each other) and whisks them off on a dynamic 10 minute ‘flight’ around the world, accompanied by an orchestral soundtrack and sound effects.

Complementing the 600sqm hemispherical screen is a 12+1 Alcons Audio pro-ribbon system, supplied by the company’s French distributor Audiolead and installed by Poitiers-based Tedelec Audiovisuel.

“We needed a system that would match the drama of the visual experience, playing the soundtrack at a comparatively high volume, but with no compromise on quality,” said Yannis Marchet, technical manager for the Futuroscope attractions. “The system also had to be mounted so that the sound from the surround loudspeakers could match the directional subtlety of the video.”

An added complication for Tedelec was that the audience platform physically moves up and down during the presentation, to give a more convincing feeling of ‘flying’. This meant that the surround system had to also have a vertical dimension, to seamlessly cover all of the audience whatever position the platform is in.

A number of different systems were listened to, with an Alcons C-series surround system proving the best solution. The multi-channel 12+1 system is installed behind the screen and comprises five CRS12GT/90 large-format, high-output 12in reference surround units for the five main LL, L, C, R, RR front channels, five CCS12 large-format 12in surround units for the ‘higher’ and two more for the ‘lower’ height dimension and four CB362 high-output double 18in full-size subwoofer systems for the bass frequencies.

The system is powered and controlled by three Sentinel3 and one Sentinel10, four channel amplified loudspeaker controllers. Six CMRS-SR reference pro-ribbon surround units are soon to be added to give greater depth to the sound effects.

“The acoustics presented a real challenge for Tedelec, because it is a large space without any damping,” said Audiolead’s Bruno Ghidionesco. “The Alcons pro-ribbon drivers can fire through the screen, without any of the problems of reflections off the back of it from horn-loaded loudspeakers, and their perfectly-controlled directivity means that the coverage and clarity is exceptional for such a dynamic audience experience.”