Meyer Sound Returns to Rolex Gala

16 February 2006

USA - The Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative, established in 2002 by the prominent Swiss watchmaker, seeks out gifted young artists from around the world and pairs them for one year with renowned masters in their discipline. The second round of the mentoring program culminated on 5 December 2005, when distinguished patrons of the arts gathered for a gala celebration in the promenade of the New York State Theatre at Manhattan's Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.

Sound reinforcement for the event is a formidable task. Based on their previous success providing sound for the event's debut presentation, New York City's SIA Acoustics and Scharff-Weisberg, Inc. were called back for an "encore performance". To overcome the effects of a highly reverberant space and satisfy the exceptionally critical listeners in the audience, SIA turned to Meyer Sound M1D ultra-compact curvilinear array loudspeakers for the principal sound reinforcement system.

"We used an M1D-based system for that first event as well," comments Steve Sockey, a partner at SIA Acoustics and designer of both sound systems. "It's not just rich, full, impactful sound that is required for this event, but clarity and high speech intelligibility as well."

The precision-tuned audio system was a critical factor in dealing with the highly reverberant site for the gala, but not the only step SIA took. Enclosed by stone and glass, the three-story promenade - nearly 200ft long and 60ft wide - is plagued by a broadband reverberation decay time of 2.4 seconds. SIA Acoustics, known for their extensive use of acoustical treatments as part of their sound designs, deployed over 10,000sq.ft of sound-absorbing acoustical panels as a complement to the loudspeaker configuration.

Although the basic approach was the same as for the previous event, the aesthetic requirements had changed. A sheer fabric scrim surrounded the room, a visual touch integral to the event designers' concept. "A new plan was needed to move the loudspeakers from sight and avoid disrupting the view of twinkling lights on the Lincoln Center plaza," explains Sockey.

The array configuration, worked out using Meyer Sound's MAPP Online Pro acoustical prediction program, called for seven locations, each consisting of eight M1D cabinets, for a total of 56 M1D units. However, the room's layout imposed some restrictions on how the loudspeakers could be deployed. The arrays were relocated to a balcony surrounding the promenade to fulfill the visual requirement, but the space between a decorative handrail and the low ceiling permitted fitting only five M1D cabinets to be hung above the balcony, so a cluster of three M1D units was suspended under the balcony below each array of five. Even that solution was not easy to implement: no rigging points were available for hanging the speakers. Consequently, SIA's Richard Nelson specified a goal post system constructed from schedule 40 pipe.

20 M1D-Sub ultra-compact subwoofers were placed to create a low-profile horizontal line array. Working in MAPP Online Pro, SIA determined that consistent low-frequency energy could be achieved throughout the seating area by locating the enclosures 7.5ft apart from each other.

The event's programme included speeches from three podiums spaced across the room: two on one side, and one on the other. In order to obtain the maximum gain before feedback, the seven arrays were carefully placed around the room to create precisely defined 'dead zones' around the three podiums. Three MM-4 miniature wide-range loudspeakers put around the front of each elevated podium base covered the tables adjacent to the podiums.

The Meyer Sound loudspeakers and Schoeps hypercardioid podium microphones were the critical analogue transducers in an otherwise all-digital signal path. The Yamaha M7CL-48 digital console, fitted with an Aviom audio networking card, connected via CAT-5 cable to remote Aviom units at each loudspeaker location, where additional DSP units supplied delay and equalization. The complete equipment package was pre-configured and tested under the direction of Scharff-Weisberg's Scott Schachter at the company's shop before deployment on site.

While the unusual system design required substantial work to devise, it proved successful enough to please both the client and the attendees. "At Rolex, the benchmark for quality is high, and meeting their expectations requires significant attention to detail," summarises Sockey. "We all worked hard to do just that."

(Chris Henry)

 

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around program gala promenade Sound reinforcement event previous sound called highly reverberant space critical SIA ultra-compact array loudspeakers system SIA Acoustics both required high audio site acoustical deployed loudspeaker configuration room visual Lincoln Center Sockey worked M1D cabinets units arrays balcony placed create MAPP Online Pro podiums podium Aviom

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