Seattle, WA (June 24, 2004)–Recent times have seen the $127 million renovation of Marion Oliver McCaw Hall–the centerpiece of the performing arts community at Seattle Center, an 87-acre landscaped campus, with theaters, arenas, museums and other public facilities, including the Experience Music Project and the Key Arena. Key to the effort was the re-building of the Hall’s 2,900-seat Susan Brotman Auditorium for improved sightlines and acoustics, including a revamped sound system.
While an opera house is typically designed and built to require little to no sound reinforcement, McCaw is a true multipurpose venue, hosting pop and rock concerts, lectures, stand-up comedy and four regional festivals per season. Since an audio system was needed, opera productions make use of it, too, using it for sound effects to support the onstage drama. The system is anchored around a Yamaha PM1D digital mixing system with two 96-input CS1D control surfaces (front of house and monitors) sharing a single Yamaha DSP1D 48-input/32-output mix engine, plus loudspeaker arrays and monitors from JBL’s Custom Shop. A Yamaha 01V96 digital mixer provides cue and program mixes for backstage and lobby areas.
Richard Erwin and a staff of 29 provide audio/video services for the entire Seattle Center campus, including sound designs for opera and ballet productions. During technical rehearsals, the sound designers work with a wireless tablet PC running Remote Desktop as a graphic interface to the main audio systems computer. In this fashion, the sound designer will configure the house and effects systems, and program individual scenes for each cue that will recalled. The Yamaha DSP1D handles A/D conversion and automates input signal processing, effects and matrix signal routing-all critical functions for creating an appropriate apparent location and/or movement for each cue.
Proscenium speaker arrays become 11 separate audio sources. Left, center, right long-throw 3-way; left, center, right 3-way down-fill; mid-proscenium 3-ways; subwoofers; low proscenium 3-ways; and all of the fill systems (including an 8 mix orchestra monitor system) are individually addressable via the PM1D, the patch bay, and 11 dbx DriveRack speaker management and signal processing units. A total of addressable 178 plug boxes for portable effects loudspeakers, located throughout the house, the stage and in the auditorium, complete McCaw’s intricate “surround” sound matrix. A total of 16 effects speakers are permanently mounted in the rear walls, but most are placed according to the sound design needs of each performance.