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SIA Finesses Tough Lincoln Center Event With Meyer Sound M1D
Late last year, more than 800 invited guests gathered in the promenade of the New York State Theater at Lincoln Center for a ceremony celebrating the close of the first year of the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative. In this innovative philanthropic initiative, Rolex's corporate sponsorship pairs emerging artists with accomplished masters in their field, such as conductor Sir Colin Davis, author Toni Morrison, choreographer William Forsythe, theater artist Robert Wilson and architect Álvaro Siza.
The New York State Theater was chosen by the event's producers for its prestigious address, ample floor space, and resplendent surroundings – but certainly not for its acoustical properties.
"It was one of the most difficult acoustical environments I've ever had to deal with," says Steve Sockey, a principal of SIA Acoustics, a New York-based consulting firm. "The space is about 200 feet long, 60 feet wide and 45 feet high, nearly all enclosed by marble and glass. It suffers from excessively long reverberation times, and the tonal imbalance – with longer times in the lows and mids – produces pronounced 'boomy' and 'echoey' effects."
To tame this unruly acoustical environment, Sockey proposed a two-pronged solution. First, to gain working control over multitudinous reflections, he specified strategic placement of more than 200 acoustical panels, each four feet square and two inches thick. This selective deadening strategy was complemented by a distributed system of Meyer Sound self-powered loudspeakers – principally controlled-coverage M1D ultra-compact curvilinear arrays.
"We chose an all-Meyer solution because, first, we wanted self-powered systems," explains Sockey. "The design called for a number of different zones, and, to get the precise balance we required, it helped to have everything self-powered. Also, we had a very short load-in and set-up time, so we wanted to make sure that once we were on site there would be no wiring problems."
Sockey says the M1D arrays were selected as the main system for their unique combination of diminutive size, precise coverage patterns and exceptional fidelity. "We were able to create small, four-element arrays that tucked right up underneath the decorative elements," he adds. "They looked great."
Sockey's assignment was further complicated by the unusual structure of the evening's ceremonies. Speakers would use three different podiums, sometimes with two podiums used simultaneously, and all three podiums had to be placed in front of the main speaker arrays. Also, very high-quality music playback was required for musical selections and video soundtracks. Sockey continues, "It was particularly important to have excellent fidelity because of the high-profile leaders in the arts community in attendance, including famed conductor Sir Colin Davis, who was one award recipient. Yet even though this was a very reverberant space, not designed for musical productions, we were able to maintain very high fidelity and consistent coverage at all seats."
Using the Meyer Sound MAPP Online acoustical prediction software, Sockey plotted his coverage to meet program requirements without unduly exciting the troublesome room. The main system comprised seven four-element M1D clusters placed around the perimeter of the promenade, four on one long side and three on the other. Controlled bass was provided by two M3D-Sub directional subwoofers, and eight UPM-2P ultra-compact narrow coverage loudspeakers provided fill as needed. Podiums were placed in deliberately created "shadows" of main array coverage to maximize gain before feedback; seats adjacent to podiums were covered by MM-4 miniature wide-range loudspeakers, four at each location.
"The event was tremendously successful," says Sockey, "and it worked because we were able to fully integrate acoustic treatment with the sound system design. The sound system itself was fabulous. It worked perfectly, and showed why we're huge fans of Meyer product."
Scharff Weisberg of New York supplied all audio and video equipment for the event, with Chris Grecko coordinating equipment sub-rentals and overall system integration, and Derek Holbrook taking charge of the on-site project management.