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MM-4 Does Lip Service at North Shore
North Shore Music Theatre in Beverly, Mass., has installed a new stage lip system comprising 24 Meyer Sound MM-4 miniature wide range loudspeakers. The new system took care of a nagging problem that had beset the venue for several years: the front row ticket holders were getting less than first-rate sound. "The stage lip speakers had been the weakest link in our audio system for some time," admits John Stone, the theatre's sound department supervisor and resident sound designer. "We had an older 70-volt system up there that wasn't too good to begin with, and it had taken a beating over the years. We searched around for a while and finally decided that the Meyer MM-4s were the way to go."
The crucial determining factor in favor of the diminutive loudspeakers, maintains Stone, was the extraordinary power-to-size ratio. "We looked around at all the manufacturers and nobody else had anything close to the size of the MM-4 that sounded decent. It was amazing, the sound that came out of that little four-inch cube! They definitely give us much higher levels without distortion, even though they are about half the size of what we had before."
The MM-4s dimensions not only made the loudspeaker easy to fit onto the stage lip, but also made it easier to move and conceal when necessary. "Because we produce shows in the round, the sets have a tendency to spill off the stage and into the areas right beside it," Stone observes. "Oftentimes we need to remove the stage lip speakers and either hide them in the set or move them to a point where they are not blocked."
Stone also found distinct advantages in the way the complete MM-4 multi-speaker system afforded both flexibility and cost savings. Flexibility was important in order to split the system into two subsystems, one for the stage lip and another for the orchestra pit rail. "The direct sound from the orchestra tends to drown out the voices, so we wanted to run that part of the system a little hotter," Stone says. "Fortunately, the MM-4 CEU is a two channel unit, so we simply bumped up the gain coming out of the channels assigned to the pit-side speakers."
Finally, Stone was pleased to discover that the MM-4 system could provide higher levels and lower distortion compared to a single-amplifier 70-volt system, and yet offer cost advantages over a system of conventional 8-ohm cabinets. "The beauty of the MM-4 system is that each speaker has an impedance of 16 ohms, so Meyer recommends that you put four speakers in parallel on each amp channel. To power two dozen speakers we needed only three amplifiers. So, all in all, the MM-4 fell right into the groove — tiny, good sounding, high sound levels and affordability."
North Shore Music Theatre, located on a wooded 26-acre campus about 25 miles north of Boston, is the largest nonprofit professional theatre in New England. The 1800-seat arena theatre hosts approximately 400,000 patrons annually. The venue's regular subscription series of six musicals is augmented by a holiday production of A Christmas Carol, a Celebrity Concert Series, and a variety of award-winning programs for children and youth.