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Japan’s Sakura MATE Completes L-Acoustics Upgrade

A brand new L-Acoustics live sound reinforcement system has been installed at Sakura MATE, Japan’s Cultural & Creative Centre which has for the last two decades hosted a diverse mix of various traditional and contemporary performances for locals and tourists.

The Centre, endearingly named Sakura MATE – Sakura, for the cherry blossoms, which are the symbol of Kumagaya (the city where it is located), and MATE, for Music, Art, Theatre and Expression – had been using a sound system that, more and more, became inadequate for the venue. The city turned to Sigma Communications to recommend a sound system upgrade, which took place over three years.

The Centre boasts an open-air Wind Theatre, a small Moon Hall, and the principal Sun Hall, which seats a thousand people in its shoebox-shaped auditorium.

The multi-story space was built with side and rear balconies to create a sense of unity between performers and the audience. Drapes and other devices allow the Sun Hall’s room to be adapted to different performance genres, and a large door on the rear wall can be opened to join with the outdoor Wind Theatre.

In the first year, three ARCS Focus per side were installed, with a single SB18m subwoofer recessed in the auditorium wall. The following year, a single flown array of one SB15m with six Kiva II was rigged in the proscenium centre, all in white, to blend in with the design of the hall’s architecture. One X8 short-throw enclosure per side was mounted stage left and stage right for monitoring. These are driven by a single LA2Xi, while three LA4X amplified controllers drive the main centre and left/right hangs.

“The original sound system deteriorated to the point where it was no longer safe to use. It was also placed in a way that resulted in irregular SPL coverage and areas with poor intelligibility,” explains Hiroyuki Kurita, sound engineer at Sigma Communications. Constant volume and equalisation adjustments were necessary to compensate for this degradation. “We needed to ensure that the new system would deliver clean, clear sound, no matter where you are in the hall,” he says.

The Kiva II-based sound system was integrated over three years, culminating with the upgrade of the network from analogue to digital AES. The entire system was purchased through L-Acoustics certified provider distributor for Japan, Bestec Audio.

Since completing the system upgrade, Kurita has found fewer requests from visiting mix engineers to increase the overall volume and feels that this has added value to work processes.

“Finally, all speakers have been upgraded with a consistent L-Acoustics signature sound, enhancing clarity throughout the hall. The sound now feels closer and more intimate, as though a curtain has been removed,” he smiles. “The quality of the entire system inspires me to continue crafting and designing detailed live sound so that the citizens of Kumagaya are proud of their MATE.”