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Treating the Crowden Music Center with Meyer Sound Constellation System, Part 2

Feb 21, 2013 4:09 PM, With Bennett Liles

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Part 1 | Part 2

Editor’s note: For your convenience, this transcription of the podcast includes timestamps. If you are listening to the podcast and reading its accompanying transcription, you can use the timestamps to jump to any part of the audio podcast by simply dragging the slider on the podcast to the time indicated in the transcription.

Installing a Constellation system from Meyer Sound is a very complex operation with critical distances and precise setup. AV integration firm BugID, from San Francisco, has done several of these. Matt Lavine and Paul Lomolino are back to tell us more about the one they set up for Crowden Music Center, coming up next on the SVC Podcast.

SVC: Matt and Paul, thanks for being back with us for part two on the SVC Podcast from Bug ID in San Francisco. Talking about the Crowden Music Center’s performing area with the Meyer Sound Constellation system that you installed. These are amazingly complex systems that custom-tailor the acoustical response of a venue to make it sound like any one of your several presets. You guys had a lot to do, so what was the timeframe on this project? Did you have to work around things that were going on in there? What was it like working on that?

Matt Lavine: Well, the project started where we met with the architects at Meyer and being that it was a school, it was a non-profit school, there was a lot of different trades that were donating time. So we definitely had to work with individual schedules and, you know, really not much budget because everyone was kind of putting in their own time or resources to make the project happen. Once it was decided upon to do this system and how the system was gonna be done, then we did have some challenges working with the school because it’s a performance space. It is used for rehearsals every day, and even on the weekends. So we were definitely were challenged trying to work with the general contractor because we were making some other modifications. The general contractor was putting acoustic treatments in. We were trying to get wires pulled and, you know, there was no existing infrastructure that we could use. The actual install from the time we started was three to four weeks of physical install with lifts in the space. We had access to the entire space for about a month before anyone else could come back in there. So it was a pretty aggressive schedule for the amount of work that we had to do. [Timestamp: 2:24]

With a system that complex and critical on placement, that’s no small matter, even getting it done in that amount of time. I was wondering where the processing and controls are all located because you have so much going on behind the scenes. So where was all that happening?

Paul Lomolino: This is an historic building. As far as my understanding, it’s a 100-year-old-plus structure, so that was another challenge. They selected like a utility closet that wasn’t being used very much, so we took that over. But then you have to look at a full rack of Meyer processing gear generating a lot of heat and demanding a fair amount of power, so we did have to coordinate with that, you know, getting wiring in an old building for this new technology was a challenge and then also dealing with installing some spot cooling so that the closet didn’t overheat. They were going to start with just a vent in the door and we said, ‘No, I don’t think that’s going to make it.’ So we came up with with some portable air conditioning scheme that we feel solved the problem on their budget. [Timestamp: 3:30]

Sometimes I think it would be difficult to explain to those who’ve never had a system like that, and being able to actually see it work, on how hot all that stuff can get when it’s crammed into a little closet. So how long are the cable runs you’re dealing with on this? You said something in part one about that being sort of a situation.

Lomolino: Yeah, the longest runs were well over 100ft. So yeah, they are long pulls and had to be, you know, routed through existing walls and flooring. We actually dropped down through the choir loft, which was right above the equipment closet. So we created our own cable runs and paths and tried to make that all as aesthetically pleasing as we could, you know, given the fact that you can’t conceal it 100 percent. [Timestamp: 4:16]

Well, that’s where some of the real creativity comes in, when you’ve got all that stuff going on and making it look like it’s not there. So the main idea with a system like this, especially in a very reverberant environment, is to be able to distribute the sound by cable and lots of speakers rather than by acoustic throw, like you might have in something like a sports venue.

Lomolino: Yeah, I think the fact, yeah, that if they do so much monitoring, you know, reference mics analyzing and one of their goals is to have no bad seats in the house, which is a tall order in many places just as acoustics change pretty dramatically throughout a space. They’re trying to overcome that with that same philosophy with a wide distribution from many points. [Timestamp: 5:07]

And of course they have different settings on the system. There are presets you can call up. I think this one has five presets. You have speech, chamber, let’s see, what are the other ones?

Lavine: Opera, symphony and choir.


Lavine: You can pretty much program the system to have as many presets as you really want. And there’s also ways to adjust the system so you do have, you know, it’s controlled via an iPad that you can dial in certain settings if you want. So it’s not just presets. It’s not just preset-driven. [Timestamp: 5:34]

And between the presets on it, what are the differences? What are the different parameters that change between the presets?

Lomolino: That sounds like a Meyer question. Yeah, I think they just go through basically the uses of the room right there, in a nutshell. So they probably, you know, maybe optimize speech with some, you know, mid-level, you know, accentuation, maybe a little less reverberation to get more intelligibility. But, you know, like Matt was saying, it’s basically kind of anything goes as far as you want to make the space sound larger or you want it, you know, just to give the overall feeling of a different venue. That’s what they’re driving at. [Timestamp: 6:18]

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