Meyer Sound has announced the launch of Constellation™ electroacoustic architecture, a complete package of equipment and services, provided exclusively by Meyer Sound and centered around the company’s VRAS™ technology, that gives venues the flexibility to alter their acoustics instantly and accommodate a variety of events and source material while remaining virtually invisible to the eye. The Constellation system improves the acoustical experience in a venue, not just for audiences, but for performers as well.
Traditionally, venues have been designed to have acoustics optimized for specific uses: theatres are designed for plays, concert halls for music, lecture halls for speech, cinemas for film surround sound. To use one of these venues for an application with different acoustical needs meant either putting architectural solutions in place or compromising a performance with inappropriate acoustics. But variable architectural solutions can be very expensive and have a limited range of effectiveness. Yet today’s venues are expected to be capable of presenting the full spectrum of program types.
“Most new venues are being built to be multipurpose, and existing ones are broadening their scope of events, says Meyer Sound President/CEO John Meyer. “This creates new demands on venue acoustics that call for a new way of approaching them. I think that with good planning and the proper application of technology, venues can meet all of their requirements without having to compromise one goal to achieve another. Constellation is a powerful and carefully considered response to the formidable acoustical needs of multipurpose venues.”
Constellation enables a venue to provide acoustics appropriate to the needs of each program at the touch of a button, yielding numerous benefits. For the audience, a music concert in a multipurpose venue can have all of the warmth and resonance of a concert hall, while a play in the same space will exhibit increased intelligibility. Musicians enjoy an increased ability to hear each other, creating an onstage acoustical experience conducive to ensemble musicmaking. Constellation can even aid in presenting a balanced sound, helping to surmount well-known challenges like bringing instruments with poor projection, such as an orchestra’s French horns and string basses, into the proper aural perspective.
Constellation employs Meyer Sound’s VRAS variable room acoustic system processor in combination with newly designed Stella™ loudspeakers and Constellation microphones certified by Meyer Sound. The VRAS technology, originally developed by Dr. Mark Poletti of Industrial Research Limited, employs a powerful DSP engine capable of generating multichannel reverberation and early reflections, as well as mixing, processing, and routing them.
The sound of Constellation is natural because it behaves like a real room, with early reflections generated from stage sound and accurately directionalized, while reverberation comes from a combination of a digital reverberation chamber and a regenerative acoustical structure. The regenerative portion of Constellation incorporates the natural acoustics of the room, rather than ignoring them or simply trying to overpower them with artificial reverberation. Pitch shifting and other artifacts are never incurred in Constellation, making it the best choice for delicate material like classical music.
“I was very excited by the possibilities when I first heard the VRAS technology. I also could see several ways to improve the effectiveness of electroacoustic architecture,” states Meyer. “For a start, the system needed components designed specifically for it, but, more importantly, the intricate design and tuning processes for these systems needed to become more complete, efficient, and methodical. Constellation addresses all of these issues by committing our highly trained and experienced specialists to create and commission each system using purpose-built Meyer Sound components.” All Constellation components, including microphones, loudspeakers, and processing electronics, have been designed expressly to meet the system’s requirements.
Constellation is a fully integrated turnkey solution, designed as a whole system that includes comprehensive support as well as equipment. Every Constellation installation is tailored to the characteristics and demands of the venue. Constellation is scalable as well as flexible, making it suitable for venues of any size and type.
Proper design and installation of electroacoustic architecture requires expert consideration of the quantity and placement of microphones and loudspeakers, along with a careful regenerative optimization process. Each Constellation system is created and commissioned by certified and accomplished professionals in acoustics and digital signal processing.
For Meyer, Constellation represents an extension of the ideals he has pursued since long before founding Meyer Sound. “The philosophy behind Constellation is essentially the same one behind all of our products: users should not have to contend with highly technical design and optimization problems that are really the job of specialized and qualified experts,” he says. “The user should have no concern beyond applying a tool creatively to meet their aesthetic needs. With Constellation, the user can select presets customized for each of their applications with a button press, never needing to consider the challenging process required to make that possible.”
“After having worked out the system as much as possible in the laboratory, the next step required experimentation and extensive measurement in the field, as well as feedback from those who will be users of the system, from FOH engineers to musicians,” says John McMahon, Meyer Sound’s executive director for LCS Series products. One of Meyer Sound’s key end user consultants has been Grammy-winning classical recording engineer John Pellowe, who toured as Luciano Pavarotti’s sound engineer for decades. Pellowe’s impeccable understanding of what musicians need to hear and how orchestras should sound in a hall have contributed greatly to the effort to perfect Constellation.
The intense focus Meyer Sound has applied to Constellation has resulted in a refined, sophisticated system of impressive power and flexibility. Paralleling the rise of multipurpose venues, Constellation represents the advent of a new approach to acoustics aimed at fulfilling the promise of these spaces. Meyer Sound has developed Constellation in several installations, the most notable being in Zellerbach Hall on the University of California Berkeley campus.