Home of the San Luis Obispo Symphony, the 1,289-seat Christopher Cohan Center has recently installed a Meyer Sound Constellation® acoustic system. Featuring a retractable active acoustic canopy formed by 40 miniature loudspeakers, the Constellation system provides an environment that helps musicians hear each other better and hence improve their sense of ensemble.
“The orchestra plays on a thrust stage in front of the proscenium, under a very high ceiling,” explains Fred Vogler, principal sound designer at Sonitus, a Los Angeles-based audio and video consulting firm that handled venue demo, as well as the design and commissioning of the final system at the Cohan Center. “The distance between the orchestra and the walls and ceiling created the opportunity for Constellation’s virtual canopy to add early reflections to the stage and front seating areas. The result is improved communication among the musicians and conductor.”
Jim Black, executive director of the San Luis Obispo Symphony, says: “The reaction of the musicians has been remarkable. Now they are just beaming at one another while playing. Their ability to hear other parts of the ensemble has been greatly enhanced, and this has improved their overall performance.”
Constellation has also enhanced the overall audience experience. “Now you can hear more subtleties, and the sound just blooms better,” says Black. “There’s more color to the orchestra without it sounding at all amplified.”
The installed system is driven by a D-Mitri® digital audio platform with six processors, including two that run the patented VRAS™ acoustical algorithms. Completing the system are 16 suspended compact cardioid microphones, a combination of 40 Stella-8C installation loudspeakers, UP-4XP 48 V loudspeakers, and UPJunior™ VariO loudspeakers, and six UMS-SM subwoofers. Both the microphones and Stella-8C loudspeakers are suspended by small lift motors, allowing the system to be raised out of sight with the press of a button when not in use.
Fred Vogler worked with the venue, orchestra, and integrator on the final design and implementation of the Constellation system. Vogler also designed a new sound reinforcement system for the hall, in collaboration with Roger Phillip, the center’s audio lead. The system is anchored by twin arrays of 11-each MICA® line array loudspeakers, and includes two UPQ-2P, eight UP-4XP, and six UPJunior loudspeakers as corner, front, and balcony fills, respectively. Low end is supplied by eight 600-HP subwoofers. Installation was handled by the Los Angeles office of Miami-based integrator Pro Sound & Video.
Located on the campus of California Polytechnic State University, The Performing Arts Center, San Luis Obispo incorporates two venues: the Christopher Cohan Center, housing the main concert hall and two smaller halls; and the 498-seat Alex & Faye Spanos Theatre.