Celebrating its 100th anniversary last year, the Helsinki City Theatre organization is a driving force in this city's vibrant cultural community. To commemorate the century milestone, the organization's Helsingin Kaupunginteatteri theatre house unveiled a unique and versatile Meyer Sound system.
The 950-seat venue, which opened its doors in 1967, provided some interesting architectural challenges. As the theater's Jyrki Sandell explains, “The room's original design was focused on spoken presentations, and the reverb time is fairly short. The audience area itself is quite wide, but not very deep. We tested a number of different configurations, and determined that a typical line array would not be the best solution for the space.”
Instead, Sandell opted for a more innovative approach. The distributed system, provided by Espoo-based Studiotech Oy, is an A/B system in which each main loudspeaker is doubled. One system provides the A mix of vocals, while the second system, in nearly the same position, provides the B mix of band and orchestra. The system is also useful when two singers are in close proximity, and placing them in different mixes can help avoid sonic anomalies caused by leakage between lavalier mics.
For each system, individual pairs of CQ-1 loudspeakers cover the upper and lower proscenium, with three more CQ-1 boxes covering center, left, and right. Dual sets of eight MM-4 miniature loudspeakers along the stage lip provide frontfill, while another pair of CQ-1 units handle infill duties. Eight UPM-1P loudspeakers provide delay coverage to the balcony seating, while low frequency is handled by two 700-HP subwoofers. In addition, a portable system comprising two pairs of a single 700-HP subwoofer and a CQ-1 loudspeaker is available for the stage and sidefills, and can serve as an effects system as necessary. A Galileoâ„¢ loudspeaker management system with six Galileo 616 processors provides system drive and processing.
“Since many of Meyer Sound's loudspeakers can be used outside of a standard line array configuration, that offered us a large sonic toolbox to design a system that really meets our needs,” says Sandell.
Another major challenge in designing the system was the need for extreme versatility and quick reconfiguration. “We always have several different repertoire programs running simultaneously,” Sandell says. “Today, for example, we have daytime rehearsals for a play, with full sound and lighting, and then a musical presentation tonight. The changeover time is, at best, two and a half hours, so there's not a lot of time to reconfigure everything. The Galileo system allows us to recall different settings quickly as needed.”
The system debuted with the Finnish production of Rebecca, based on the original play introduced last year at Vienna's Raimund Theatre. The complex production includes 18 musicians and 35 wireless microphone systems, and really put the new sound system to test. “Rebecca uses a lot of synthesizers and a full choir,” says Sandell. “The music is very dense and has a lot of dynamics, and the new Meyer system handles the sound without compromises. We have a lot more headroom to work with now, and the coverage is excellent. We are pleased to have chosen the CQ-1. It sounds really great.”
Images available by pasting this link into your browser: