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A perspective of the Grand Theater at the new BOCOM NEW BUND 31 Performing Arts Center in Shanghai that's equipped with a Meyer Sound Constellation acoustic system and more.

Meyer Sound Constellation Enhances Sonic Capabilities At New Shanghai Performing Arts Center

Grand Theater at the recently opened BOCOM NEW BUND 31 Performing Arts Center equipped with large-scale Constellation acoustic system and Spacemap Go spatial tool working with 320 loudspeakers.

The 2,500-seat Grand Theater at the recently opened BOCOM NEW BUND 31 Performing Arts Center in Shanghai, which hosts events that include business conferences, pop and symphonic concerts, jazz festivals, Broadway plays and more, is equipped with a large-scale Meyer Sound Constellation acoustic system that can be used to create a palette of natural-sounding aural environments and provide immersive sound experiences using the Spacemap Go spatial sound and mixing tool.

The capabilities of the system were showcased late last year with a unique opening production that combined symphonic, jazz, electronic, pop, and dramatic performances, with Constellation optimizing the hall for each genre. James Chow, head of commercial real estate for principal investor Shun Tak Holdings, took a supervisory role with the Grand Theater from the outset.

“A highlight of the opening show was a performance by Shunza, a Chinese-American singer known for her ‘velvet’ voice,” Chow says. “The acoustic performance was accommodating and intriguing as I had expected, and her voice also was well balanced with the live jazz band, bringing an intimate and dreamy experience to the audience.”

When first proposed eight years ago, the Grand Theater was designed principally for hosting musicals, Chinese opera, dance, and rock/pop concerts — all requiring amplification. The basic room geometry was designed with these uses in mind. However, at a later point, the brief was changed to also include orchestral music, and this presented a challenge to the acoustical consultant, London-based Theater Projects.

“The auditorium’s geometry was fixed and impossible to change,” says lead acoustic consultant Fabrizio Filippi. “Fortunately, the active acoustic system offered a crucial advantage, allowing the provision of significant early reflections at all audience seats without altering the internal structure of the auditorium.”

According to Filippi, a Meyer Sound Constellation system was the preferred option when the electroacoustic solution was proposed. “It was a priority since the beginning, thanks to the quality of the components and long-standing experience in the field of active acoustics,” he says. At this point, Filippi worked to ensure that the physical and electronic elements of the room acoustic would blend as well as possible. “The room acoustic provides a blank canvas that enables Constellation to work to its full potential, minimizing any interference or sound coloration. In some instances, however, the physical acoustics provide useful support from surfaces that are sound reflective, such as elements in the ceiling.”

The system incorporates 320 self-powered, full-range loudspeakers distributed laterally and overhead throughout the hall, with models that include the UPM-1XP and ULTRA-X20XP. The approach allows sound designers to create immersive sound either with Constellation off or in conjunction with a Constellation acoustic preset. Such dual-use capability previously was offered only in auditoriums seating at most a few hundred.

The system is also unique in that it is the first to integrate loudspeakers for Constellation’s active stage shell into the LED video wall. The loudspeakers inside rotate so that the wall can be erected with either the passive wall surface or the active video screens facing the auditorium. Constellation in the Grand Theater provides multiple presets to accommodate performances with sound reinforcement or for acoustic-only performances of folk, operatic, symphonic, or choral music. If desired, users can customize parameters in each preset for intensity, warmth, and brightness.

For amplified performances, the hall has installed a permanent reinforcement system comprising Meyer Sound LYON, LEOPARD, and LINA line arrays with bass support from 1100-LFC low-frequency control elements.

Chow expects that the investment in sound will yield long-term benefits. “Constellation allows greater flexibility in the use of the venue,” he says. “During the day it can be utilized for events such as meetings and luncheons, with shows in the evening. This flexibility maximizes our return.”

The center also incorporates a black box performance space with retractable seating for up to 400 patrons. The sound system utilizes LINA compact line arrays and ULTRA-X42 compact loudspeakers with low-end enhancement from 750-LFC and 900-LFC low-frequency control elements.

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