A Meyer Sound Constellation acoustic system was recently implemented at the Forum, a 465-capacity venue for the Hochschule für Musik und Theater (University of Music and Theater) in Hamburg, Germany, designed to optimize acoustics for a range of applications that include lectures, theater, opera, chamber music, and symphonic orchestra. The system also affords expanded opportunities for student experimentation in electronic music with dynamic 3D spatialization.
Driving the transformation on behalf of the university was Professor 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.”
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 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 blend of early reflections and late reverberations as appropriate for the audience and 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.”