Meyer Sound Constellation transforms the vintage cinema pala
The Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall in Portland, USA reopened after a pandemic hiatus and began the installation of a Constellation Acoustic System from Meyer Sound.
With a current seating capacity of 2,776, the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall is one of a quintet of halls operated by the Portland’5 Centers for the Arts, appropriately styled. It was built in 1928 as a vaudeville house, making it into theaters only two years later, and finally went dark in 1982. After a $ 10 million renovation project, the venue reopened in 1984 as a theater. versatile concert venue and as the new home of the Oregon Symphony.
âOurs is the first period cinema restoration to install Constellation, which made it a bit of a learning curve,â said Robyn Williams, executive director of Portland’5. âIt’s a sophisticated system, but it receives rave reviews. The audience experience is much better. Those who don’t even know Constellation is here say the hall sounds great now, and those who do say it’s a game-changer.
The 1984 renovation included significant changes to architectural acoustics, including the installation of a large stage shell, to make the base reverb suitable for symphonic performances. But problems remained. The seats under the deep balcony suffered noticeable sound imbalance and attenuation, for example, and the massive stage shell still failed to distribute sound evenly throughout the room. Also, the aging shell was difficult and time consuming to move and store, and that started to raise safety concerns.
Williams and other key decision makers had initially put aside an active acoustic solution, based in part on the experience of a previous generation system from another manufacturer in a hall elsewhere in Oregon. But Williams changed her mind after experiencing Constellation at the San Francisco Symphony SoundBox.
âI realized right away that this could be the solution we were looking for,â says Williams. âThe hull was at the end of its life and we were reluctant to spend far in six figures for a solution that only served one artistic organization. Constellation would not only improve the acoustics of the symphony on stage and in the audience, but would provide flexibility for the wide variety of other musical genres we welcome here.
Key decision makers including Williams, Oregon Symphony CEO Scott Showalter, and symphonic musicians traveled to Berkeley to hear Constellation at Meyer Sound headquarters and UC Berkeley’s Zellerbach Hall. Following a consensus decision, the wheels were set in motion. Historic preservation specialists Architectural Resources Group worked with theatrical consultants from The Shalleck Collaborative on overall planning and providing the framework for the technical specifics of Meyer Sound’s own Constellation team.
As installed, the Constellation system includes 86 ambient sound sensing microphones and 294 small, meticulously positioned loudspeakers, with various combinations assigned to four distinct acoustic zones on stage and in the hall. Acoustic enhancements are created using the patented VRAS algorithm, hosted on a D-Mitri digital audio platform. Installed by Sound Image, it is the largest Constellation system in the United States in terms of total speaker and microphone deployment.