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Meyer Sound Constellation system turns Norway barn into concert venue

The historic barn was never intended to be a concert hall, but Meyer Sound's Constellation has turned it into an acoustical space ideal for hosting chamber music

Meyer Sound’s Constellation system has transformed a historic barn in Norway, now called the Riddersalen, into a concert venue.

The barn was, understandably so, never intended to be a concert hall. However, Meyer Sound’s Constellation has turned it into an acoustical space ideal for hosting chamber music.

Pianist Leif Ove Andsnes and a group of acclaimed musicians will play for the fourth annual Rosendal Chamber Music Festival, August 8-11, 2019, at the Riddersalen.

Leif Ove Andsnes commented on the now universally acclaimed venue: “Over the past three seasons, musicians and audiences alike have responded very well. For me, it’s total magic, and after a while, I don’t think about the fact that there is a system. I just feel like I’m in a very good room for making music, spacious and reverberant. I trust that the people in the last row can hear as much detail in my performance as people in the front row.”

The main challenge with the Riddersalen lay in the dimensions of the building, which is too narrow and lacks sufficient volume to function acoustically for chamber music. By applying advanced acoustic engineering, coupled with high-resolution digital signal processing, Constellation widens the perceived aural space and creates an immersive acoustical ambiance.

Constellation does not directly amplify the instruments. Instead, it captures and modifies the natural acoustical environment of the hall. For chamber music, Constellation is set for a mid-band reverberation time of about 1.5 seconds. 

The Constellation system at Riddersalen has three basic components. 34 microphones are spaced around the hall, and the microphone signals are sent to the digital signal processing system which applies patented computer algorithms. The output signals are sent to 145 small loudspeakers spaced around the room, which together emulate the effect of reflective surfaces placed at the ideal distance and angles from the musical performance.

The system was specified by the acoustical consulting firm of Brekke & Strand and installed by systems integrator Bright Norway. Design and calibration were led by John Pellowe of Meyer Sound’s own Constellation team in collaboration with Brekke & Strand.

“Experiencing Constellation for the first time opened my eyes and ears,” said Andsnes. “I really had to rethink a lot of my perceptions, when I heard how excellent it sounded and how the acoustic could be transformed, I said to myself: ‘this is the future’.”