Meyer Sound deploys largest US Constellation System to date

US loudspeaker giant Meyer Sound has deployed the country’s largest Constellation System at the Steven Tanger Centre for the Performing Arts in Greensboro, North Carolina.

The project was described the company as boldly ambitious yet fiscally conservative. The $90 million facility has been designed to incorporate the latest technologies for acoustical and staging flexibility, meaning that it can serve as a concert hall for symphony performances and opera, as well as an auditorium for spoken word events and a road house for touring shows from rock concerts to Broadway musicals. However, the cost of the project was described by Meyer as ‘substantially less than what would be needed to build two separate venues’.

“I knew from the outset that the economics would be driven by selling out touring shows, which is why we set 3,000 as our minimum capacity and designed our staging to accommodate tours well into the future,” said Matt Brown, who as managing director of the Greensboro Coliseum Complex now also is responsible for the Tanger Center. “Yet following the demolition of the old War Memorial Auditorium, the Greensboro Symphony was in need of a new home. Our goal was to provide an optimum environment for both types of performances without compromising either.”

The task was issued to acoustical consultant for the project, Arup of New York, with acoustical design at various stages led by Matthew Mahon, Christopher Darland and Ed Arenius. Arup’s recommendation was to design the hall with relatively dry physical acoustics to accommodate spoken word and amplified music with electroacoustic enhancement added as required for most other musical events.

“The symphony would have preferred a 1,600-seat symphonic concert hall, but Guilford College’s Bryan Series and Broadway series were selling double that number,” said Brown, “so we needed to acoustically accommodate both. That led to a thorough education on electroacoustic technology culminating in the selection of a Constellation system.”

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Also involved early in the process was Cliff Miller, president of SE Systems, the AV systems integrator.

“To a great extent, the choice of Constellation was driven by a push from Dmitry Sitkovetsky, the music director of the symphony,” commented Miller. “He visited Meyer Sound in Berkeley to hear Constellation early on when other systems were still under consideration. He also consulted with other conductors familiar with the technology before tilting strongly toward Constellation.”

The Constellation system as installed by SE Systems comprises a total of 205 small full-range loudspeakers mounted laterally and overhead. Eight different models were deployed, both full-range and subwoofers, all incorporating Meyer Sound’s IntelligentDC for self-powered systems with simplified cabling requirements. For ambient acoustical sensing, 57 miniature condenser microphones are arrayed throughout the hall, feeding signals to the 18-module D‑Mitri digital audio platform. Five of the modules are D-VRAS processors hosting the patented Virtual Room Acoustic System algorithm. Installation project manager for SE Systems was Sam Trexler.

The Tanger Center schedule for 2021 and beyond features the Greensboro Symphony subscription series highlighting concerts with Kenny G and Sting. Also scheduled is the inaugural Broadway season with Wicked, The Lion King, Dear Evan Hansen, Mean Girls and Beautiful – The Carole King Musical. Speakers for the Bryan Series include actress Sally Field and former UK Prime Minister Theresa May.

“The acoustical toolset we have in Constellation as applied in a 3,000-seat setting affords economic advantages that I believe will be a model for all future performing arts venues of this type, not just here in the United States, but around the world,” Brown concluded.