Sennheiser Power World’s First Large Scale Opera for Wireless Headphones

Sennheiser technology will play an integral part of Invisible Cities: the world’s first large scale opera for wireless headphones. The landmark production, a collaboration among The Industry, L.A. Dance Project and Sennheiser, will stage its world premiere on Saturday, October 19th at Los Angeles’ iconic Union Station — the largest railway terminal in the western United States.


SennThe Invisible Cities operawritten by Christopher Cerrone and based on the 1972 novel by Italo Calvino, combines historical fiction with surrealist elements to create an ‘invisible opera for wireless headphones’. The opera’s narrative, which centers on explorer Marco Polo’s descriptions of fantastical cities to Emperor Kublai Khan, transform’s Calvino’s novel into a unique experience for each participant — combining a classic art form with the ultimate in technology. By using wireless headphones from Sennheiser, audience members will be intimately connected to the storyline, while having the ability to roam freely as the opera moves throughout the terminal.

“Art-making is not just about great ideas but about ingenious execution — making a vision something real,” commented Yuval Sharon, artistic director, The Industry. “Sennheiser is literally making The Industry’s dreams come true; this production simply would not exist without their commitment to innovation and the drive for excellence that will make this such a magical experience for audiences.”

“Our world is characterized by fast-paced, interactive communication and consumers seek experiences that touch them in a much deeper and more meaningful level. Invisible Cities caters to this desire and delivers a truly innovative performance to its audience,” commented Stefanie Reichert, director strategic marketing, Sennheiser. “We have worked in close cooperation with Sennheiser global relations, including project manager Kristy Jo Winkler, to make this a seamless experience for the entire audience. Invisible Cities showcases how innovative technology and cutting-edge artistic vision drives innovation in the arts.”

While Invisible Cities is an opera at its essence, it is unconventional in many ways. For example, there is no opera house and no assigned seats — audience members are not restricted in their movement and encouraged to roam freely. Also, whereas audience members at a conventional opera typically rely solely on natural building acoustics to hear an operatic production, Invisible Cities will utilize Sennheiser’s state-of-the-art wireless technology to convey both dialog and music to listeners. Performers will be outfitted with Sennheiser wireless microphones and attendees will use Sennheiser’s RS 120 wireless consumer headphones for a complete, intimate audio experience.

At the heart of Invisible Cities’ technical production will be Sennheiser’s new Digital 9000 wireless system, which will provide patrons with pristine, uncompromising audio for the duration of the performances. This system, which was launched last year after having been under development for over a decade, is the most advanced wireless system in the world and used in top level theatre, music and broadcasting events.

An 11-piece orchestra consisting of strings, brass and percussion will perform an original score and will be miked using a selection of Sennheiser and Neumann microphones. Singers, dancers and performers in the production will also be outfitted with Sennheiser wireless microphones, and will be able to listen to their performances and director cues using Sennheiser’s world-class in-ear monitoring system (IEMs). The performance audio will be sent to a multi-channel digital console, where it will be mixed and broadcast via wireless RF technology to attending patrons, each of who will be donning Sennheiser wireless headphones.

Bexel, based in Burbank, Calif., custom built a Managed Antenna System (MAS) that allows for extended coverage of Sennheiser’s wireless microphones, in-ear monitors and headsets. On the audio side, Bexel also supported Sennheiser’s superb high-quality microphones with a DiGiCo SD11 paired with a DiGiCo D-Rack. The orchestra, located approximately 1,000 feet from the main hall, is connected via fiber. The DiGiCo system allows the audio mixer to control the mic preamp from that distance.

We are delighted to partner with Sennheiser and the The Industry’s audio professionals on Invisible Cities,” says Rod Allen, Bexel business segment manager, Audio West. “Sennheiser, who is providing the RF integrity, along with Bexel engineering and the rest of the audio team, has a big task to make that mix relevant no matter where the main focus happens to be in the venue, because the listener has only one stereo mix to reference. It was an intriguing assignment to help launch this unique event in a working public train station with the talent roaming throughout the venue.”

Sennheiser’s Digital 9000 Wireless System, HDVD 800 and Neumann KH 310 Monitor Nominated for 29th Annual TEC Awards
Sennheiser’s Digital 9000 Wireless System, HDVD 800 Headphone Amp/DAC, and the Neumann KH 310 Monitor have been nominated for Outstanding Technical Achievement for the 29th Annual TEC awards. The presentation ceremony is scheduled to take place during the 2014 NAMM Show, to be held in Anaheim, Calif. in January 2013.

Sennheiser’s Digital 9000 Wireless System, which has been nominated in the ‘Wireless Technology’ category, is the most advanced professional wireless system in the world and supports professionals across broadcast studios, theaters, and live performances. The HDVD 800 Headphone Amp/DAC, which has been nominated in the ‘Amplification Hardware/Studio & Sound Reinforcement’ category, allows for optimal performance when paired with any Sennheiser audiophile headphones. The Neumann KH 310 Monitor, meanwhile, is a three-way active tri-amplified monitor that is nominated in the ‘Studio Monitor Technology’ category.

“We are thrilled to have such a strong presence once again at this year’s TEC Awards for both Sennheiser and Neumann,” commented Greg Beebe, president of Sennheiser Electronic Corp. “We would like to thank all of our employees around the world for their unrelenting commitment in developing and marketing these groundbreaking products, and of course our customers for their loyalty and continued feedback.”

Presented by the Technical Excellence & Creativity Foundation, the TEC Awards are the professional audio industry’s most prestigious awards. Nominations in Outstanding Technical Achievement in Product Design were made by a select panel of sound and music industry professionals in numerous audio specialties, and were were based on product entries by audio manufacturers. Products and projects released and in commercial use during the period of September 1, 2012 to August 31, 2013 were eligible for a nomination.