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Clair Brothers Updates The Met Philadelphia

Revamping sound at the former opera house was all music, no drama for Clair Brothers.

Philadelphia, PA (February 11, 2020)—Under event promoter Live Nation, Philadelphia’s Metropolitan Opera House—known locally as The Met Philadelphia—began a massive restoration in 2017 and 2018. The aim was not merely to fix the decrepit facility’s disintegrating plaster and hole-riddled roof, but to bring the entire venue back to its original glory while also ensuring that it met modern-day expectations in terms of ADA compliance, safety, production values, acoustics and more. A key part of that was the design and installation of a considerable Clair Brothers PA.

The 3,400-seat room sports a 94-foot stage as well as a two-level balcony which creates a room with a capacity of even 4,000 when seats are removed for a general admission production. Dustin Goen, consultant at K2 Consulting in Boulder, Colorado, who often works with Live Nation, called Josh Sadd, chief engineer at Clair Brothers, to discuss about the Met project. “There’s an instant comfort level between us and our companies,” said Goen. After hearing the pitch, the Clair Brothers team evaluated the project and made suggestions on products, as well as an execution plan.

Inside the Met Philadelphia. Photo: Live Nation.
Inside the Met Philadelphia. Photo: Live Nation.

When first built in 1907, the Met’s original acoustics were designed for non-amplified performances. Adjusting that for modern-day use, the renovation teams made several acoustical decisions, such as hanging curtains to cover the side walls from front to back on all levels. They also treated the large open areas in ceiling areas with an acoustical treatment which provides a rich natural sound. Since the venue was originally non-amplified, the room itself retains its natural opera and amphitheater aesthetics. Sadd noted, “Add a great PA, and you’ve got a room with wonderful sound.”

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Today, the Met’s main PA is the Clair Brothers stereo C12 line array with 16 cabinets per side—eight iS218 double 18-inch subs flown per side; and eight CS218 double 18-inch subs beneath the stage. For sound reinforcement, Clair Brothers FF2 front fills, as well as, kiTCurve12 front fills are aimed underneath the balcony to the left and right sides of the stage near the front.

Remaking the Met Philadelphia into a modern music venue for amplified music required dealing with balconies and box elements where the architecture has a tendency to obscure the clarity of sound in areas. Several time-delayed speakers were installed to fill out the frequency range under the balconies, on walls behind columns and inside the box seat areas. In the back of the room on the first level, where the intermediate Loge level balcony is situated, a series of kiTCurve12 under balcony speakers were installed in addition to 16 P8s distributed around the balconies and box seats as fill speakers. On the Mezzanine level are three separate arrays of three kiTCurve12s used as over-balcony delays.

Sadd offered, “One of the guys from Live Nation told me that the best sound in the room was in the last seat. So, I checked it out and was impressed with how intimate, natural and clear the sound was. It pulls you in like you’re right there. You don’t feel far away at all!”

Following a grand reopening with Bob Dylan as the first act on its stage, one-hundred and ten years after its doors opened for the first time, the venue has now completed its first year post-renovation and is just getting started, more than 200 shows on the books for 2020.

Clair Brothers •