The Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix, AZ, is one of the city’s most distinctive venues, an intimate hall where none of the 2,650 seats are more than 75 feet from the stage, and the seating arrangement can be configured for either in-the-round or traditional proscenium stage performances. The Celebrity’s uncommon design, however, presents its own unique set of issues when it comes to achieving intelligibility and even coverage, challenges addressed by the recent installation of a new state-of-the-art sound system from Meyer Sound.
The system was designed by Will Lewis of Scottsdale, Arizona-based Conceptual Engineering with support from Meyer Sound’s design services department, and installed by Lewis and company. The installed system is comprised of four clusters, each utilizing a pair of UPA-1P compact wide coverage loudspeakers, a pair of M1D ultra-compact curvilinear array loudspeakers for downfill, and an M3D-Sub directional subwoofer for low-frequency coverage. A separate delay ring is built from eight UPJ-1P compact VariO™ loudspeakers, and four 700-HP ultrahigh-power subwoofers are installed in strategic locations in the facility to augment the M3D-Subs for shows demanding extra bottom end. The owners' suite is served by its own dedicated array of three M1D cabinets per side.
The theatre’s previous system, while adequate for more traditional venues, did not address the Celebrity’s unique acoustical characteristics and the challenges of achieving uniform coverage. “The old system used over 20 cabinets, plus frontfills and subs, and it was difficult to achieve consistent coverage from so many components,” explains FOH engineer Chaz Helsing. “The new system is definitely a case of ‘less is more.’ We’ve gone down to eight boxes and gotten far more consistent coverage and better intelligibility.”
Lewis agrees, pointing out that “the 100-degree coverage of the UPAs allowed us to create a system with fewer point sources, giving us far better intelligibility. And Meyer’s self-powered design really simplified the installation, as well as making it more affordable.”
Another significant challenge was the buildup of lower frequencies at center stage, creating less-than-optimal sound for the performers. As Helsing observes, “performing in the round is already enough to take in for artists accustomed to a more traditional stage. We wanted to create a more comfortable environment onstage, and that’s part of the reason we went with the M3D-Subs. The cardioid pattern really helps to keep most of the low-end energy off the stage.”
The Celebrity’s system also implements Meyer Sound’s new Galileo loudspeaker management system, providing digital processing for aligning and optimizing the venue’s multiple zones. Lewis cites the Galileo 616 processor’s air absorption compensation filtering as being especially useful. “The Galileo system really helps to compensate for the temperature and atmospheric changes in the building,” Lewis says, “particularly in an environment like Phoenix, where the hall is frequently air conditioned.”
The result, according to Helsing, is a clearly audible improvement. “There’s been a dramatic difference in the sound at the Celebrity,” he states. “The new system has really accomplished wonders.”