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Meyer Sound on the High Seas
When Holland American bought the cruise ship Homeric from Home Lines, they made several changes to the ship. They cut the vessel in half and inserted a new section of cabins that included a lounge. They rechristened the ship the Westerdam. And, to provide a sound system for the new Broadway-style shows they planned to put on, they purchased a Meyer sound system from Miami Audio Visual Company (MAVCO).
Back then, in 1987, most cruise ships had only rudimentary sound systems: a couple of speakers on stage, perhaps, for a cabaret or lounge act. The new Meyer system - comprising a center cluster with five UPA-1As, two USW subwoofers, and UPMs installed as under-balcony fills and delay rings - marked an important evolutionary step in sound system on the high seas. Together, Holland America, MAVCO, and Meyer Sound had just raised the standard for entertainment systems on cruise ships.
The Westerdam, with its new entertainment format and Meyer sound system, became the model for Holland America's new ships, and MAVCO was asked to provide the sound systems for the new ships that followed: the Statendam, the Maasdam, the Ryndam, and the Viendam, which is currently under construction. MAVCO began working closely with the shipyards.
"We designed the sound systems to work with the ship's architecture," says John Timinsky, MAVCO's President. This meant fitting the speakers and the mix console into tight spaces in the lounge. Most of the ships' sound systems were designed for light sound reinforcement. The lounge on the Viendam, however, is designed for Las Vegas-style shows, and required MSL-2s, along with more delays and proscenium side-fills.
When Carnival Cruise Lines purchased Holland America, they were impressed that Holland America's sound systems were built into the ships, and that the sound systems were of such high quality. Carnival soon wrote specifications for a new line of eight cruise ships, the Fantasy line, and hired MAVCO as project managers for the design and installation of the ships' sound systems.
"We've addressed the basics," says Timinsky, "and made sure that the design of the lounges took acoustics into account. And we've provided dependable, reliable sound systems for difficult venues. That's where Meyer fits in."
"Carnival has started building their biggest ship, the Carnival Destiny - 100,000 GRT, the size of an aircraft carrier," Timinksy says, "and the system is ninety percent Meyer. The sound system has to be able to handle special effects - everything from helicopters to gunfire. The lounge is four decks high. We're provided a full-blown Las Vegas-style sound system with seventeen zones, all computer controlled."
The Destiny also features an outdoor amphitheater. "The sound system has to be flexible enough to handle everything from jazz to heavy metal," says Timinksy, "and rugged enough to withstand warm salt air. Warm salt air is probably the worst environment you could put a speaker in. The choice was clear. It had to be Meyer, because of their technology." The amphitheater's sound system features two MSL-5s and two DS-2s as mains, three MSL-2s and two MSWs as front fills, two MSL-2s as side fills, and MSL-2s and MSWs for seating behind the stage.
Mark Goossens, 2nd Engineer and Project Manager at MAVCO, points out that the process of designing and installing a sound system on a cruise ship can take years. The specification for the Destiny's sound system was completed in December, 1992; the ship is scheduled to be finished in late 1996. Goossens explains: "Because we need to provide a system that's still state-of-the-art several years from now, we have to specify speakers that aren't on the market. My confidence with Meyer is always very high. If they have a prototype for a speaker, we know we'll have a quality speaker when we need it."