Founders Theatre is home to a broad array of performances and gatherings for the roughly 160,000 residents of Hamilton and their neighbors in the surrounding Waikato region of New Zealand. Recently, the theater’s management upgraded the 20-year-old sound system to a contemporary design that would, as technical officer Kelvin Ballard describes, “deliver consistent level and quality to every seat in the house, with both a high level of musicality and uncompromised clarity of vocal reproduction.” The theater settled on a configuration of three arrays built around 34 Meyer Sound self-powered curvilinear array loudspeakers provided by Hamilton’s Audio Video Solutions under the direction of Hanspeter Frick, in consultation with Harley Richardson of Meyer Sound Australia.
“Events here range from international tours to very simple conferences,” says Ballard, “with everything in-between, including classical concerts, cultural performances, popular music, local community events, ballet and contemporary dance. Aside from rock ’n’ roll–type shows, which generally tour with their own systems, the most demanding use of the sound system would generally be for musicals.”
Frick’s system design uses left and right arrays comprising eight M1D ultra-compact curvilinear array loudspeakers and two M1D-Sub ultra-compact subwoofers each, and a center cluster of 10 more M1D cabinets. “The M1D line arrays have a very good name in theater work,” Frick says, “and they are the perfect size for this situation. Flying M1Ds is a breeze, and taking arrays out or changing them can be done very easily due to their size and weight. Plus, you have the added benefit of practically no cable installation.”
Rounding out the coverage is a set of four UPM-1P ultra-compact wide coverage loudspeakers providing front-fill,
The arrays’ configuration and placement were finalized by Richardson using Meyer Sound’s MAPP Online Pro acoustical prediction program. “Harley actually traveled to Hamilton from Australia to specify the exact speaker locations,” Frick says. “He ran MAPP in the venue using his laptop and connected to the MAPP server at Meyer Sound headquarters in the U.S. through the Internet via his cell phone. This allowed him to calculate, in real time, the effects of adjusting speaker placement.”
As for the result, Ballard points out that, at the first technical run-through of the system’s debut show (the New Zealand premiere of the musical The Full Monty), the director commented that the sound was like the CD of the Broadway recording. “We have found that the system reproduces a transparency and clarity, especially with vocals, not demonstrated in more conventional speakers,” Ballard says. “And the sound is virtually the same in every seat from the front to the back of the theater. It’s now very easy to find space for all the instruments and then have the vocals sit on top with excellent clarity and intelligibility. Our audiences are telling us that they love the sound of the band, and they can hear every word.”
For more information on Meyer Sound, visit www.meyersound.com.