The principal venue of Aotea Centre in New Zealand, the ASB Theatre has installed a Meyer Sound Constellation® acoustic system as part of its recent renovation. By subtly augmenting the theatre’s reverberant characteristics, Constellation creates an immersive acoustic atmosphere and enhances the audience’s sense of envelopment.
The improvement was noted by New Zealand Herald music critic Brian Rudman: “From the opening rumbles of the orchestra it was obvious that something magical had happened during the interior upgrading. Instead of the underwhelming ‘mono LP’ sound, there was volume, bloom, and the stereo-like envelopment you get in a great lyric theatre.”
The 2,068-seat hall’s original acoustics were optimized for amplified events. To provide acoustics that support ASB’s orchestral and operatic performances, Principal Consultant Chris Day of Marshall Day Acoustics specified a balanced approach blending both structural and active electronic solutions.
On the structural side, Day added new side and overhead hardwood reflector panels and parquet flooring. To provide the ideal acoustic support for classical music, ASB decided against the cost-prohibitive option, which required raising the ceiling to add room volume. Instead, ASB chose Constellation as a cost-saving option that provides a broadband extension of the reverberant envelope. The system also allows room operators to tailor the acoustics for any event with the press of a button.
“We’ve had good feedback from patrons, particularly during the recent opera,” reports Kerry Griffiths, head of technical operations for THE EDGE, the umbrella group that operates Aotea Centre and other Auckland venues. “Management has been pleased. And I’m relieved that we now can provide concert hall acoustics for orchestral presentations. It’s also enhanced what we can offer for opera, both for singers and what we hear from the pit orchestra, which is vastly improved.”
At the heart of ASB Theatre’s Constellation system is a D-Mitri® digital audio platform with three core processors, 12 input/output frames, one core matrix, and six dedicated processors running the patented VRAS™ acoustical algorithm. Forty-four cardioid and 32 omnidirectional microphones provide ambient sound pickup, while the enhanced acoustical response is precisely reproduced through a total of 268 very small self-powered mid-high loudspeakers including Stella 4-C installation loudspeakers, MM-4XP self-powered loudspeakers, UP-4XP 48 V loudspeakers, UPJunior™VariO™ loudspeakers, and 24 MM-10XP subwoofers.
The Constellation system was provided and installed by Bartons Sound Systems of Auckland under the project supervision of Robert Waddell and Tony Wehner.
A critical element in Constellation, the VRAS algorithm was developed by Dr. Mark Poletti of Industrial Research, Ltd. Poletti’s early work on VRAS was prompted in part by reports that the Aotea Centre was seeking improved techniques for high quality, cost-effective acoustical enhancements.