When the concept of Manitoba Centennial Centre originated in 1960 the project was intended as a means of commemorating Canada’s centenary and part of a wide ranging attempt at urban renewal in Winnipeg’s Point Douglas Area; a facility purpose-built to serve succeeding generations of Manitobans as a permanent focus for the performing arts. In November 2010, the 253, 014-square-foot, 2,305-seat venue’s ability to do so was dramatically enhanced with the installation of a state of the art acoustic enhancement system featuring 70 Tannoy loudspeakers.
The driving force behind the project was a need for more presence for orchestral performances, says project coordinator, Glen Jonatchick, president and founder of Integrated Entertainment Technologies (IET), sound contractor on the installation. “They felt the hall had a long delay and no early reflection, or presence, in the acoustic signature.” The system’s function, he adds; to provide natural sounding support of unamplified program material for which the venue’s pre-existing sound reinforcement system would not be used.
The system consists of three major components, he continues; a compliment of Sennheiser microphones, a proprietary central processing, amplification and software hub provided by Netherlands-based, Acoustic Control Systems (ACS) and a comprehensive package of Tannoy V12s, i9s, V8s and Di6DCs positioned throughout the hall, all individually time-delayed and EQ’d to enable the room’s acoustic signature to be altered. “In essence, to make it sound like the building envelope is smaller, or larger, depending on the program selection and what you want to achieve.”
Each of the Tannoy products were chosen to fulfill distinct output functions, with 16 V8s located in the proscenium serving as early reflection speakers, 32 higher output V12s ceiling mounted over the audience for short reverberation and 12 Di6DCs , for long reverberation, in the rear wall. Additionally, 10 Tannoy i9s (chosen specifically because of their superior directivity) were installed above the audience and angled toward the stage as foldback for the
The result is a measurable improvement in listener experience across the board – for both the audiences attending performances by the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, the Manitoba Opera, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and various international ensembles, as well as for the performers themselves.
Still, Jonatchick insists, the effect is subtle: “It’s about purity of sound.” Achieving that purity was the primary reason behind the choice of Tannoy. “All three major system components are important, but the output side is a major factor in the acoustic signature of the room. The idea of this system is not for the music to sound amplified, but to sound natural, and the Tannoy products were the best choice to achieve that on the output side. We actually had a review meeting not long ago and the WSO is absolutely ecstatic about how much more present the orchestra sounds.”