Archive for Month: April 2020
Meyer Sound launches daily online training
Meyer Sound has announced a comprehensive daily online training programme, with company CEO John Meyer joining and leading some of the discussions.
The programme’s content aims to provide a natural progression of subject matter, giving practical knowledge as well case studies for reference, and instructors reviewing specialty tools covering solutions across all industry verticals. Attendees can choose from an à la carte menu to create ‘on demand’ programming via a weekly poll through the Meyer Sound Users Community Facebook group.
The webinars are organised by weekly content chapters, with content presented in English on Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays by senior technical support and education specialist, Merlijn van Veen. Tuesday and Thursday session will be in Spanish, with the first session featuring Oscar Barrientos, Meyer Sound technical services manager, Latin America.
‘Education has always been a pillar of the holistic Meyer Sound core brand philosophy of sharing knowledge,’ said John McMahon, Meyer Sound’s senior vice president of sales and marketing. ‘Recent events have put the spotlight on the importance of offering our public training not just with in-person seminars but via online platforms. Our global team was quick to respond to the need by curating an informative and engaging programme.’
The free sessions run approximately one hour, with no registration required. Upcoming training sessions are listed in the Meyer Sound events calendar at https://www.facebook.com/meyersoundlabs. The webinars are archived on YouTube at www.youtube.com/thinkingsound
Hollow Hearts Sound Fantastic with DPA Microphones
Norwegian sound engineer Tom Meyer has moved the entire band over to DPA and is using its d:facto™ Vocal Microphones for all five vocalists. Norwegian sound engineer Tom Meyer has built up a large collection of DPA microphones over the years and has always been very happy with the results they deliver. He is now spreading the word to artists he works with and has recently persuaded pop singer Lisa Skoglund to switch to one of the DPA’s new 2028 Vocal Microphones.
“As soon as the 2028 Vocal Microphone was released, I ordered one for Lisa and she is so happy with it that she takes it with her wherever she is singing,” Meyer says. “I take a selection of DPA microphones with me on every gig I do because they make my job much easier – and they are popular with my clients, as well.”
Based in Bardu in northern Norway, Tom Meyer has been tackling live sound engineering projects since 1990 and now runs his own company, TM Tour Production. He first became aware of DPA through the 4011 Cardioid Microphone and was very impressed with its sound, particularly when he used it to amplify large conferences or kick drums for touring bands.
“I felt that I could gain them much higher than anything else and they sounded so good,” he says. “When I moved north and started by my own company, I decided to get the best tools possible and gradually started buying DPA. I now have more than 30 of them.”
In recent months, TM Tour Production has been using its DPA microphones on a variety of projects, including live gigs with Hollow Hearts, a folk band from Tromsø.
“The first time I worked with Hollow Hearts, I put up a DPA d:facto™ Vocal Microphone for the band’s singer Ida Løvheim. After singing two lines she stopped and said ‘Tom this mic sounds fantastic!’. That evening went so well and they were so happy with the response from the audience that they now work with me most of the time and I have done more than 40 concerts with them.”
The mic package Meyer uses for Hollow Hearts – and for many of the other bands he works with – includes a 2011 Twin Diaphragm Cardioid microphone with 4011 windscreens on kickdrum, a 4018V with a compact preamp on snare top, a 2011 on HiHat, overheads and guitars, a 4099 Instrument Microphone on snare (under) and toms and 4018v d:facto Vocal Microphones for all vocalists
“Hollow Hearts plays quite low on stage, so the openness of the DPAs sounds really good,” he says. “I think the 2011 in particular is fast becoming an industry standard because you can put it everywhere and it always sound great in your PA.”
Meyer Sound Constellation Optimizes Acoustics and Inspires Creativity at German University
With seating for an audience of 465, the Forum is the principal performance venue for the Hochschule für Musik und Theater (University of Music and Theater) in Hamburg, Germany. Although it has hosted a full schedule of performances since opening in 1986, the auditorium had been hampered by problematic acoustics. Fortunately, thanks to funding from a national “Innovative University” competition, the Forum recently was transformed into a world class venue for both traditional and cutting-edge performances with the installation of a Meyer Sound Constellation acoustic system. Now with a simple tap on a touchscreen, acoustics can be optimized for lectures, dramatic theater, opera, chamber music, or a symphony orchestra. The system also affords expanded opportunities for student experimentations in electronic music with dynamic 3D spatialization.
Driving the transformation on behalf of the university was Prof. Dr. Georg Hajdu. “Interestingly, the Forum was originally designed for use with an active acoustic system,” he explains, “but for technical and financial reasons it never materialized. Later attempts to modify the somewhat unbalanced acoustics by mechanical means never gave satisfactory results.”
Prof. Hajdu was already familiar with Constellation, having experienced its capabilities nearly a decade before at the University of California in San Diego. “I heard a demonstration in their black box theater and the room sounded wonderful and completely natural — until they turned off Constellation,” he recalls. “I was baffled.”
Later, during the planning stages for the Forum installation, Hajdu also heard systems at Meyer Sound in Berkeley and elsewhere in the Bay Area. “My impression was that the systems performed nicely in all contexts,” he says. “Also, I always trusted the strong research orientation of the company and I was reassured by visiting their facilities.”
For planning and construction supervision of both physical acoustics and Constellation electroacoustics, the university commissioned Graner + Partner GmbH of Bergisch Gladbach as a consultant. The firm was intimately familiar with Constellation, having partnered with Meyer Sound in 2017 on a system for the kING Culture and Congress Hall in Ingelheim.
“We started the project by first listening to some rehearsals and concerts before making any changes,” says Graner + Partner Project Engineer Dominik Schenke. “We found the acoustics were too dry for chamber and orchestral music, but too reverberant for speech, with an unpleasant coloration in the mid-frequency range. We prepared the hall for Constellation using mid-frequency absorbers to get rid of this odd ‘metallic’ sound.”
Schenke then worked collaboratively with the Meyer Sound team, led by Constellation Project Director John Pellowe, to finalize the design and engineering particulars. After the project was put to tender, the contract was awarded to Aveo Conference Systems of Wolfegg.
“A far-reaching infrastructure was put in place well in advance of the installation of 142 Constellation loudspeakers, two line arrays, near field systems and subwoofers, 48 microphones along with 30 of our custom-made I/O boxes,” says Aveo Managing Director Wolfgang Huber. “This enabled us to react quickly and precisely to the project requirements. Another critical point was the design of an easy-to-use touchpanel interface to allow the stage crew the safe operation of the Constellation system. Aveo’s programmers have implemented this challenge in the best possible way. It was a great pleasure implementing this special project as a collaborative team together with the university, Graner + Partner and Meyer Sound.”
Constellation’s small, self-powered loudspeakers are placed in overhead and lateral positions, with loudspeaker groups divided into separate zones in the hall and on the stage to create a unique blend of early reflections and late reverberations as appropriate for the audience and for the performers. Models installed include the full-range MM-4XP, UP-4XP, UPM-1XP, and UPJunior-XP as well as the MM-10XP subwoofer. The miniature condenser microphones are distributed throughout the space for capturing the ambient acoustics, with the desired acoustical signatures created by a D-Mitri digital audio platform with 22 modules, including four D-VRAS modules for hosting the patented Variable Room Acoustics System algorithm.
For performances requiring direct amplification, the Forum now provides a system comprising left and right arrays of seven each LINA compact line array loudspeakers with deep bass from two each 900-LFC and 750-LFC low frequency control elements.
According to Prof. Hajdu, the Constellation system has greatly enhanced the acoustical flexibility of the hall while opening new avenues of creativity. “The applications range from a very subtle ‘coating’ of the acoustic sound to — for dramatic effect — turning the hall into a large cathedral. One of the most desired applications is use of the Constellation loudspeakers as a multi-channel system for spatialization of up to 96 sound sources. In combination with the LINA line array loudspeakers the hall now sounds just spectacular.”
As an example he cites a concert presented in January which gave an overview of the hall’s new audio and acoustic capabilities, together with enhancement from a new LCD wall. “We used the system to recreate the sound of the church pipe organ in our organ studio. We used a 7.1 Holophone microphone and streamed the multichannel audio and video over a digital network to the Forum. This was a striking experience, with many in the audience finding it hard to believe this all took place in real time.”
Consultant Dominik Schenke also attended several opening performances. “The acoustics of the hall benefited enormously from the conversion and the Constellation system,” he says. “We heard a piano concert with beautiful chamber music acoustics, and then a choir that was wonderfully sustained by long reverberation. A theater piece was performed with different acoustics appropriate for every scene, and the 3D audio functions were showcased with experimental electronic music. The sound for the musical performances was warm, enveloping and transparent while speech was direct and clearly intelligible.”
In addition to opening new creative possibilities on campus, the Constellation system affords opportunities to collaborate via high-speed internet on experimental music projects with other Constellation-equipped institutions worldwide, including the University of California at Berkeley and Monash University in Melbourne, Australia.
Founded in 1950, Hochschule für Musik und Theater is one of the leading public universities for the performing arts in Germany. It is located at the prestigious Budge-Palais in the Rotherbaum district of Hamburg.
ETC equipment freeing for immersive Cages
In theatre, the word “immersive” is often tossed around to describe the flimsiest of attempts to create a pre-show atmosphere.
It’s a gamble that mostly comes up short. By contrast, Woolf and the Wondershow’s production of Cages succeeds in spectacular style. The show takes place in a downtown Los Angeles warehouse that has been transformed into a Victorian wonderland. The audience enters through a stylish, highly-decorated “Study”— complete with whimsical rain effect projections and air perfumed with a custom scent, and stern governess—into the performance space. Hard to categorize, the show tells the story of Anhedonia, an allegorical world where emotions are banned and hearts are confined to cages. The story is told in holograms, multi-screen projections, and jaw-dropping illusions. Actors interact with projected characters in a fluid balletic dance, all with a throbbing sound design that puts music and special effects everywhere.
An ETC Ion Xe handles more than 1,000 lighting cues in the 90-minute show, all triggered from a SMTPE feed. “It took a long time to program, and the performers have to hit their marks consistently,” says R.S. Buck, the lighting designer for the show and a CalArts grad. And, despite the large number of cues, “the lighting is intentionally discreet.”
Discreet, but highly technical. Because of all the projections, illusions, and multiple screens, dealing with light spill became a big deal. “The focus and shuttering are very precise,” says Buck. “We even 3D printed our own barn doors to get the control we needed.”
Production Manager and Associate Producer Monica Vandehei watched the show take shape from the idea stage. “We used the empty warehouse for all the pre-production. We built the props, filmed everything in miniature, and used green screen to create the holographic characters—it was very long and very detailed.”
The Ion Xe doesn’t just handle the show, either. The lavish “Study” that welcomes people into the show also operates as a bar (nicknamed “The Chemist”) during nights without a show. So Laura Green from L.A.’s Kinetic Lighting specified a control system that is multi-functional, allowing for the board operator to control the Ion Xe Console during the show, while during non-show nights, the wait staff can control the lighting in the bar using ETC’s Unison Echo Inspire button stations. This way, the venue only needs one control system, but the staff doesn’t have to be trained on a console. They just press a button on a wall switch, and an Echo DMX Scene Controller plays back snapshots from the console. Unison Foundry dimmers send power to chandeliers and sconce practicals in the elaborate space. ETC ColorSource PARs light the lobby area and ETC Source 4 Mini LEDs cover the stage.
DPA Microphones Receives Standing Ovation from Southwest High School’s Jimmy Cannon Theater for the Performing Arts
The 4066 Omnidirectional Headset and 4099 Instrument Mics Deliver High-Quality Sound and Unrivaled Noise Rejection.
Breakout Audio Visual owner Kurt Dommers has revamped the microphone system at Southwest High School’s Jimmy Cannon Theater for the Performing Arts with a solution that’s easy for students to use, but also delivers crystal clear sound to the audience. To find the versatility and pristine sound quality worthy of the state-of-the-art, 1,150-seat facility, Dommers turned to DPA Microphones and its line of advanced audio solutions. Dommers replaced the previous microphone package with DPA’s 4066 Omnidirectional Headset Microphones for the performers and 4099 Instrument Microphones for the chorus, orchestra and area mics.
“Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory was the first production Southwest High School put on with the new mics, and the difference between that and previous productions was substantial,” says Dommers. “We knew that the DPA mics would add versatility, but we didn’t expect such a significant improvement in noise rejection. In addition, we had so much extra headroom that EQing to gain volume before feedback was not nearly as challenging. Thanks to the DPA mics, we now have warmer tones all the way to the last row.”
Since employing DPA mics, Dommers has received a lot of positive feedback regarding the huge improvement in sound quality. “We have become more educated on the differences and uses of the mics, thanks to DPA’s wonderful support team,” he adds. “We had some issues with our old mics, and the DPA team was able to walk us through these challenges. Also, the sound quality and noise rejection capabilities of the DPA mics exceeded our expectations. We even tried some comparisons: the DPA mics sounded clearer at -20 than other industry standard mics sounded at -6 with all of the other settings constant.”
Another reason Dommers chose to use DPA mics is for their ease of application and modularity of the components. Since much of the sound control is in the hands of the students, it was essential to use equipment that could achieve great sound quickly and with a minimal learning curve.
“Learning new skills, especially in the high school environment, ismuch more effective when the instructors have good tools to work with,” says Dommers. “In this case, the DPA mics are exceptional. Many might say that previous productions were riddled with devastating audio glitches, and much of those problems were related either directly or indirectly to the lack of headroom prior to upgrading to DPA. With DPA microphones, the productions sound incredible. Even the students have noticed a difference in the clarity and performance. Lead Professional Guest Consultant and Director, Dimiter Marinov, was overwhelmed with the upgrade that took the production from amatuer level to professional. This improvement would not have been possible without the dedication of Southwest High School Theater Director, Chris Spanos, who really went to bat for his students and community. Everyone seems to be really pleased with the new mics.”
Since implementation of the 4099 mics at Southwest High School, DPA has released a new, upgraded instrument microphone, the 4099 CORE Instrument Microphone. The CORE by DPA amplifier is a powerful new technology that brings more clarity and details to music across the entire dynamic range.
Fabled Newman Scoring Stage at Fox Studio Lot Upgrades with Meyer Sound Bluehorn System Monitoring
The Newman Scoring Stage, located on the Fox Studio Lot in Los Angeles, recently upgraded its control room with the installation of Meyer Sound’s Bluehorn System full bandwidth studio monitors. A seamlessly integrated system comprising three drivers in two cabinets along with proprietary digital processing, Bluehorn is uniquely capable of high acoustic output coupled with flat amplitude and phase response across the entire audible spectrum.
The Newman Scoring Stage project marks the first permanent installation of a Bluehorn System in any major commercial studio. Prior to installation, several Los Angeles scoring stages had Bluehorn System rental systems in place.
A revered industry institution for more than eight decades, the Newman Scoring Stage has hosted recording sessions for many of Hollywood’s iconic films, including The Sound of Music, The Matrix, Avatar, Pirates of the Caribbean and countless others.
After sitting idle for several years, the Newman Scoring Stage was completely refurbished in 1997 and a new 5.1 monitoring system was installed in the control room at that time. In recent years this system had been showing signs of age, but according to Denis St. Amand, recently retired as supervising engineer for the facility, there was a lack of clear consensus on a preferred replacement.
“Very few mixers were using our old installed front monitors,” says St. Amand, “but instead they were using a variety of mid-field monitors that they brought in themselves or we took from our own inventory. Needless to say, setting these [personal monitors] up was a time-consuming inconvenience for everybody.”
The momentum toward a Bluehorn solution gained traction when, at the prompting of renowned score mixer Shawn Murphy, a temporary system was brought in for a month-long trial demo.
“We had positive feedback from just about everybody who heard them, but it was really Shawn and Armin Steiner who helped me convince management to make the investment,” recalls St. Amand. “I remember the first day when Armin walked into the room with the Bluehorns. He sat down and listened for a while, then told me he was hearing things that he knew had to be there but he couldn’t really hear before. The clarity and definition were just astounding, he said. After that, he campaigned hard to have these put in.”
For screen LCR, the installation comprises three self-powered Bluehorn Systems, each with a full range loudspeaker (12” cone driver and 4” compression driver on an 80° x 50° horn) and a complementary 18” LF extension loudspeaker. The integrated Bluehorn processor applies a patented phase correction algorithm that results in flat response from 25 Hz to 22 kHz. Four HMS-12 surround loudspeakers are installed for side and rear channels while four X-400C compact cinema subwoofers — arranged in two end-fire arrays — provide ample power for LFE channels.
“Acceptance of the new Bluehorn solution has helped streamline and simplify operations here,” says Erin Rettig, currently supervising engineer for the Newman Scoring Stage. “As a group, the scoring mixers who work here have shown a great deal more confidence in how these monitors will translate their mixes to the final dubbing stage. Some have stopped bringing in their own mid-field speakers in favor of just using the Bluehorns.”
For Rettig, the shift toward increasing confidence in the new room monitors is no surprise. “Once you understand the full-bandwidth phase correction and the difference it makes in terms of accurate reproduction, you realize that there are things Bluehorn brings to the table that the others cannot. It simply paints a more transparent and accurate picture, and it certainly is in our interest to give our clients access to that benefit.”
Accuracy and translation are essential in scoring stage monitors, as any anomalies heard in the final dubbing mix can be difficult and expensive to fix. “The Bluehorn System better matches what is heard on the Fox dubbing stages,” says Marc Gebauer, chief engineer for all studios on the Fox Lot. “I find that the impressive improvements in phase response and dynamic tracking lead to a marked improvement in imaging, fidelity and transparency.”
Scores mixed using the Bluehorn System monitoring include feature films The New Mutants, Call of the Wild, and Togo and television shows Family Guy, American Dad and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (final episode).
Structural modifications to the soffit and installation of the new loudspeakers were carried out under the direction of Brian McEvoy, head of facilities construction, with overall project approval and supervision by Stacey Robinson, vice president of sound operations at Fox Entertainment Group.
Other state-of-the-art technology available at the Newman Scoring Stage includes an AMS-Neve 88RS console (96 channels) with Encore 3 automation and 48 channels of Neve remote microphone preamps; an extensive collection of premium condenser and ribbon microphones from Neumann, Sennheiser, Schoeps, Royer and AKG; and a wide selection of outboard signal processing equipment. Four Pro Tools systems enable recording of up to 112 inputs with playback of 768 tracks.
The Newman Scoring Stage structure was built in 1928 for filming but was converted to a scoring stage in the early 1930’s under the direction of illustrious composer and arranger Alfred Newman, head of the studio’s music department at the time and for whom the facility was eventually named.
Hiding in Plain Sight is How to Succeed with DPA Lavalier Microphones
Production Sound Mixer David Thirion has been putting DPA’s 6000 Series subminiature and 4000 Series miniature microphones through their paces on a range of film and TV projects.
For more than 10 years, Production Sound Mixer and Location Sound Recordist David Thirion has been using DPA microphones to capture audio for film and television projects. Their audio quality and natural sound was a key reason for his choice, but equally important was the tiny size of some models, which makes them ideal for situations where they need to be hidden on actors’ bodies or in costumes.
In recent months Thirion has been experimenting with DPA’s latest bodyworn products, the 6000 Subminiature Series, in particular the 6060 Subminiature Omnidirectional lavalier microphone. On the latest series of Parlement, a new television series created by Belgian-based Artémis Productions, he used it to great effect – although not how he originally intended.
“On paper, DPA’s 6000 series is the perfect tool because it sounds as good as the DPA 4060 lavalier, yet is much smaller and therefore easier to conceal,” Thirion says. “But in the end, it comes down to choosing the right microphone for the job. We initially planned to use it on a female actor, but she was wearing such light silk that it was impossible to hide the mic because the weight of the cable was pulling at the fabric. Instead we used a DPA 4061 lavalier microphone secured with a bra clip, which worked just fine.”
The 6060, however, did solve a different problem when it proved ideal for the show’s male talent whose chest was too hairy to have a microphone attached to it.
“As everyone working in film and TV sound knows, it can be very difficult to mic up a hairy chested actor wearing a white office shirt, no tie and a blazer,” Thirion explains. “We found the perfect spot for the 6060 in the collar of the shirt. We used an URSA mini mount and covered with white URSA moleskin so that it was completely disguised. We also hid a 6060 in a tie knot using a Sanken RM11 concealer. The mic is so slim that it helped prevent any tie knot deformation.”
Thirion, who has been working in film and TV sound for nearly 20 years, says the trick to hiding microphones in clothing is to expose them as much as possible. This might sound counterintuitive but he believes it is better to give them some space in order to achieve the best sound.
“If you can nearly see them in plain sight, you get better sound quality and intelligibility because there is air around the microphone.” He says. “You also reduce any risk of fabric rustling against the capsule or against the cable, which is also a source of noise.”
As a self confessed fan of DPA microphones, which he describes as ‘the best mics out there’, Thirion had no hesitation in choosing them for the Parlement project, which was shot on location in Europe at the end of last year.
“We knew we would be confronted with difficult costumes and very little time to mic up all the talent,” he explains. “The shooting pace on a TV series is much faster than it is on a feature film. We did 10 episodes in less than two months and were shooting eight to 10 minutes of footage a day, using two cameras at the same time on pretty much every set. The schedule was so fast that you couldn’t start fussing about placing microphones on talent and then readjusting them on every single take. Therefore we chose microphones that offered good sound quality but were small and easy to hide.”
His DPA line up included a 4160 Slim Omnidirectional Microphone, which was perfect for hiding in blazers and suit jackets.
“It was a great tool to have on set because we could hide it behind the rose bud hole on a jacket using a DPA buttonhole mount. The microphone heads were exposed but couldn’t be seen so we got great results.”
Since completing Parlement in December 2020, Thirion has been teaching at a film school while he waits for his next project. His impressive CV includes many documentaries for National Geographic, Discovery, ARTE, France 5, RTBF, BBC and Channel 4, plus feature films such as Complete Strangers with Spanish director Pau Maso and Body of Water and How To Stop A Reccurring Dream, where he worked as boom operator for Production Sound Mixer Aris Anastassopoulos.
Meyer Sound LEO and LYON Power 50 Years of The Allman Brothers Band Celebration at Madison Square Garden
Members of the final The Allman Brothers Band lineup, dubbed “The Brothers,” came together Tuesday evening at Madison Square Garden in New York City to celebrate 50 years of The Allman Brothers Band. The Brothers included founding member Jaimoe and longtime members Warren Haynes, Derek Trucks, Oteil Burbridge, Marc Quinones, and Chuck Leavell along with guests Duane Trucks and Reese Wynans. The powerhouse band transported Madison Square Garden into the past with songs going back to the band’s original 1969 album.
The one-night show was powered by Meyer Sound solutions anchored by LEO and LYON linear line array loudspeakers, provided by rental partners UltraSound and PRG North America. The system configuration consisted of, per side (L/R), a main PA with 16 LEO loudspeakers, six flown 1100-LFC low-frequency control elements, main 180-degree arrays and 270-degree arrays of 18 LYON loudspeakers each, 18 rear LEOPARD compact loudspeakers and six center rear LEOPARD loudspeakers, eight LEOPARD for front fill, and 10 1100-LFC control elements ground-stacked.
“Bringing in UltraSound and PRG Audio with a Meyer Sound PA was the most logical option,” says Derek Featherstone, FOH Engineer of the evening and CEO of UltraSound. “This decision was based on a number of variables. Most importantly, we have deployed the same set up for at least 12 Dead & Company 360-degree shows in this same room [MSG]. We wanted to approach this one-off event by eliminating as many unknowns as possible and the Meyer Sound LEO and LYON system has performed for us successfully in this environment.”
The UltraSound and PRG teams joined forces for a night to remember with, in addition to Featherstone behind the console, monitor engineer Bobby Tis, system engineer Michal Kacunel, monitor tech Chris Bedry, and audio engineers Mike Bollella, Paul White, Dustin Lewis and Chris Rushin.
ETC and High End fixtures play well together in La Jolla
The 2017 closure and eventual demolition of the Sherwood Auditorium in San Diego could have dealt a fatal blow to the La Jolla Music Society who had been its tenants since 1986. “It was a huge shock,” recalled Christopher Beach, the society’s president and CEO, “We had no place to call our own.” Now, after a Herculean fund-raising effort, it has a new home in the $82 million dollar La Jolla Conrad Prebys Arts Center.
Located in the heart of La Jolla Village, the 49,200-foot facility houses two performance venues with a total capacity of 620. The 49-foot stage can be configured for concerts, theatre, lectures, or film. Curtis Kasefang of Theatre Consultants Collaborative, based in Raleigh, North Carolina, turned to ETC and High End Systems to create a house rig that could be augmented by touring shows. “There were several factors that drove fixture selection: color rendering, fixture noise, and heat contribution chief among them,” says Kasefang. “The client had a clear vision of a very theatrical space, not your traditional concert hall. He wanted it to be able to support acoustic music, amplified music, film, and secondarily dance and other performing arts.”
Kasefang faced several challenges. “The noise floor was very low, so lighting fixtures had to be fanless for acoustic events and the lighting had to be invisible. The audience chamber and the stage are surrounded by wooden grillage, through which you can see the enclosing box, which was built as an enveloping cyclorama. The initial architectural lighting fixtures didn’t cut it, so we employed the ETC ColorSource CYC fixtures which provided a beautiful quality of light that felt limitless.”
FIXTURES AND CONTROL
The project is predominantly ETC equipment driven by an Ion Xe 20 Console, including Source Four Series 2 Lustr+ front light for amplified events, ColorSource Spots for side and high side light for amplified events, Desire D40 Lustr for down lights, ColorSource CYC lights and wall wash fixtures, and High End Systems SolaFrame Theatre automated fixtures.
“We banked on the development of the High End Systems SolaFrame Theatre units because the tightness of the room and the acoustic requirements demanded a remote focusing light, but we could not tolerate the noise. Early in design, we met with Bobby Hale and based on his word, we trusted the fixture would be a success,” said Kasefang. Being a California installation, environmental factors were important. “The decision to go all LED was a big one. In truth, cost was a wash relative to halogen, but it enabled a reduction in duct sizing which made the building design possible,” Fang explained.
Omaha’s CHI Health Center Outfitted with Meyer Sound LEOPARD System
A new Meyer Sound system based on LEOPARD line array loudspeakers is the keystone component of a complete audio upgrade for Omaha’s up to 18,300-seat CHI Health Center arena. Now equipped with the latest in audio reinforcement technology, the venue offers an enhanced audience listening experience for a wide range of large-scale athletic, community and corporate events.
Integrated and installed by the Sports and Entertainment division of Alpha Video, the new system replaces a sturdy but dated Meyer Sound point source cluster system that had been in place since the arena first opened in 2003.
“The durability and craftsmanship of the Meyer Sound speakers outlasted most of the rest of the system,” notes Gino Meyer, manager of audio-video technology for the Omaha Metropolitan Entertainment & Convention Authority (MECA), the venue’s manager and operator. “So when it came time to upgrade to the latest in line array technology, going with a new Meyer Sound system was a no-brainer.”
CHI Health Center had worked extensively with Alpha Video on their broadcast systems, so MECA’s Meyer called on Jeff Volk, vice president of sports & entertainment, to work on solutions. System design was a collaborative effort involving Alpha Video Broadcast Design Engineer Fred Street in consultation with Meyer Sound Design Services. Although the planning process extended back to 2018, the actual installation was accomplished in two compressed time windows in summer and then late fall of 2019. The result, according to Meyer, has been a markedly improved audience experience.
“Creighton University men’s basketball is our main tenant here, so we really wanted a system with both very high intelligibility plus a really solid low end,” says Meyer, “since most of the incidental music for them is hip-hop. We really needed a system with punch, and the new Meyer Sound system definitely delivers.”
The system’s 88 LEOPARD line array loudspeakers are configured in six hangs, with four arrays of 16 each at the corners for near and far throw, and two of 12 each for the end arrays with a shorter throw. For low end impact, the 12 900-LFC low frequency control elements are deployed in four cardioid arrays, with two LF arrays of three each flown over the end LEOPARD arrays and two on the sides between the corner arrays. System drive and processing is courtesy of five GALAXY 816 network platforms, with three RMServer implementing comprehensive remote system monitoring.
The system produces remarkably uniform coverage across the full bandwidth, according to Alpha Video’s Fred Street. “Meyer Sound likes to hit within a couple dB consistently, and we’re doing that here,” he says. “Predicted maximum levels are well over 90 dB, and we’re certainly capable of doing that. We didn’t have time to do any formal intelligibility measurements, but it really wasn’t necessary. The clarity is amazing. It’s smooth, consistent and beautiful-sounding, top to bottom and all the way around.”
For Jeff Volk, the bottom line is making the sound work with the contemporary shift in sports video presentation. “It used to be just speech reinforcement in the PA, but what we’ve designed gives them a full range of music playback capability, including a lot of low frequency power. Now when the basketball team comes out, they can complement the opening video with a lot of low end punch to match the visual elements on the screen. Yet it still delivers a very high level of speech intelligibility, even when announcements are over the music.”
Testifying on behalf of the principal user of the venue is Joe Willman, director of marketing and broadcast services for Creighton University Athletics.
“The new Meyer Sound system certainly has delivered,” he says. “Whether you are courtside or in the last row, you get clear intelligibility and enhanced dynamic range. We’ve revised the way we create content for the venue, knowing that we have a lot more room to play with as far as what we’re giving the system. We’ve received compliments on the clarity of our PA announcer, and now when the opening video plays and the sound booms, the fans really know it’s game time!”
For Alpha Video’s Jeff Volk, client satisfaction is a consistent result when partnering with Meyer Sound. “Everything we do with them is a great experience,” he says. “Not only do they make great products, they back them with great engineering and great support. We couldn’t be happier with this project or the others we’re working on.”
Alpha Video’s complete overhaul of systems in the arena also included a complete network infrastructure upgrade on 10 GB fiber optic with fully redundant topology, new back-of-house systems, and new DSP and control systems. Also new are the two Yamaha consoles, with a QL5 at FOH and a QL1 at scoreboard control.
In addition to Creighton University men’s basketball, the CHI Health Center arena also regularly hosts NCAA “March Madness” basketball tournament games, NCAA Women’s Volleyball Finals, Olympic swimming trials (using large temporary pools), and the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholders meeting. Concerts by major touring artists also are featured in the venue, though most acts will deploy their own end-stage audio production.