The Buzz: Install of the Month:
Dec 1, 2005 12:00 PM, By Jack Kontney
In 1955, to mark the 50th birthday of the province of Alberta in a memorable and lasting way, the Alberta government constructed two identical auditoriums — one in Edmonton and another in Calgary. Completed in 1957, the Jubilee Auditoriums have been true centers for the fine arts, providing a home for the Alberta Ballet, Edmonton Opera, and Calgary Opera, while also hosting a wide array of other concert and cultural events.
With 2005 — Alberta's centennial year — approaching, the provincial government again wanted to mark the occasion. A full rejuvenation of both theaters was authorized, with the goal of improving the concert experience by ameliorating seating and sight lines and installing state-of-the-art acoustics. One big advantage of having twin buildings, of course, was the ability to create a single audio design that would work equally well in both.
For Roy Fraser, head of audio for the Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium in Edmonton, the key element was selecting the right PA system. “We've had Meyer loudspeakers for the last 20 years. Between ourselves and the consultants, we agreed that a line array would be a very appropriate method to cover the hall.”
In 2003, Fraser's team did a test, arranged by Allstar Show Industries' Edmonton office, of the Meyer Sound M2D line array in the Calgary facility and came away pleased. The primary consultant for the Jubilee project was Fred Gilpin of Douglas Welch Design (Vancouver, British Columbia), a specialist in theatrical design.
For the demo, the Meyer Sound MAPP Online multipurpose acoustical prediction program was used in advance to optimize coverage, and a SIM II audio analyzer was brought in during the demo. “That's how we decided on the number of line array speakers required, and whether the M2Ds were going to be right for the new renovation,” says Gary Urlacher, who heads the installation department in Allstar's Edmonton office.
The rejuvenation included major changes to the basic acoustical design of the buildings. The original Jubilees created as much acoustical gain as possible, allowing the whole audience to hear, but also producing slapback reverberation on the stage. To counter this, the interior walls were altered to break up these reflections and steer them away from the stage. To accommodate acoustical performances like opera, a reverberation chamber was built into the ceiling, reflecting sound directly down to the audience. During amplified performances, the reverb chamber is closed off by a series of motorized baffles, breaking up unwanted reflections in the house. These changes, along with upgrades to the buildings' heating, ventilation, and lighting systems, required the Jubilees to be closed for 14 months during construction.
The buildings had to reopen on an inflexible deadline: Alberta's 100th birthday celebration. Working with (and around) the other contractors, Allstar delivered successful installations in both cities, on time and within budget.
The final house system includes three hanging clusters, all self-powered. The left and right arrays consist of seven M2D compact curvilinear array loudspeakers and two M2D-Sub compact subwoofers. The center array also includes seven M2D boxes, augmented by four M1D ultra-compact curvilinear array loudspeakers. To ensure complete coverage for all patrons, eight more M1Ds are spread across the stage lip as frontfills. In Calgary, four Meyer UPA-1P compact wide-coverage loudspeakers add reinforcement over the balcony, while Edmonton uses its existing stock of UPA-1C loudspeakers for this purpose.
In Edmonton, both mixing desks are by Yamaha, with a 48-input PM1D digital console at front of house and a 52-input PM3500M handling monitor duties. At Jubilee South in Calgary, on the other hand, a 40-input Midas XL3-40 is in the house position, augmented by a Yamaha DM2000 when required. Monitor mixing runs through a Midas XL250-40 desk. Both venues use a mix of Shure, AKG, Crown, and EV microphones. The Edmonton auditorium also has Sennheiser and Audio-Technica mics. With an eye to future needs, infrastructure was added to accommodate surround-sound productions.
Both Jubilees reopened on schedule on Sept. 1, 2005, as the province marked its centennial with AlbertaSpirit, a series of celebrations spread across 14 venues in 10 cities. Both Jubilee theaters were filled to their seating capacities of 2,534. The Jubilee North in Edmonton featured country artists Paul Brandt and Ian Tyson along with k.d. lang, while the Jubilee South hosted Jann Arden and the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra.
Fraser had no worries about the debut of the new Jubilees. “The next two or three tours we have coming up have all expressed an interest in using the Meyer line array instead of bringing in their own PAs,” he says. “For me, that's everything.”
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