Created by Philly POPS Music Director, Michael Krajewski, ‘Cirque Goes to the Movies’ merges epic movie music with Cirque aerialists, contortionists, strong men and dancers, and was the grand finale of the Philly POPS 2015-2016 season. This world premiere POPS program featured Cirque’s amazing physical feats of power and beauty scored with music from classic movies such as Star Wars, Harry Potter, Titanic, Mission Impossible, James Bond and others. ‘Cirque Goes to the Movies’ was performed live at Verizon Hall, Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, and sound design was created by Houser Audio exclusively with VUE Audiotechnik loudspeakers. The al-Class of Scalable Acoustic Linearity Arrays was at the heart of the sound design.
‘Cirque Goes to the Movies’ was created specifically for the 65-piece Philly POPS orchestra and required first-class sound design to meet the challenge. Andre Houser, Founder and Chief Engineer of Houser Audio, has been handling audio for the Philly POPS for eight years and executed the sound design for Cirque.
Houser explained the following: “We’ve been a VUE house since July 2014, when we used sixteen VUE al-4s for the very first time at the opening of Dilworth Park at City Hall. The VUE system for Cirque replaced their conventional PA, which is a semi-permanent loudspeaker system install that comes in-and-out of the Verizon Hall as needed.
A substantial truss structure was built to accommodate the aerial acts of the Cirque performers and a new loudspeaker system design had to be created around the structure. The main system configuration featured eight VUE al-8s plus four al-4s as an under-hang, per side.
The al-8 and al-4 are members of VUE’s al-Class, Acoustic Linearity Family of Scalable Line Arrays. Housing dual eight-inch woofers, 4 four-inch Kevlar mid-frequency drivers with Neodymium magnets, and dual one-inch exit compression drivers, the VUE al-8 is an extremely flexible line array element. Highlighting the al-8’s advanced technologies are two high-frequency compression drivers employing Truextent beryllium diaphragms. Use of beryllium enables the transducer to deliver significant improvements in high-frequency extension and response linearity that simply cannot be matched using aluminium or titanium. The HF drivers are mounted to a tightly coupled, precision waveguide with VUE’s Continuous Source Topology (CST) to reduce acoustic lobbing, while providing ideal line array consistency, even when paired up or down with the al-12 or the al-4, respectively.
Positioned in the middle of the al-Class, the al-8 can be scaled up with VUE’s al-12, or down with the al-4. The al-4 Subcompact Line Array System integrated elegantly with he al-8s in the Cirque system thanks to VUE’s CST technology that enables multiple, different al-Class loudspeakers to be arrayed in the same hang without compromising coherency, intelligibility or output for any seat in the venue. The result is coherent and symmetrical coverage from the larger al-8 cabinets at the top of the array to the smaller al-4 under-hung elements. Each al-4 incorporates two four-inch woofers and a single Truextent beryllium HF driver in an M-T-M arrangement (mid-tweeter-mid) for symmetrical, consistent horizontal coverage.
Unlike other compact line arrays with fixed vertical coverage, the al-4 functions more like a full-scale line array, whereby the number of elements in the array actively control the vertical coverage. Four VUE as-215 Dual 15-inch vented subwoofers provided low frequency extension for the Cirque system. Capable of handling 1200W long-term, each as-215 packs dual 15-inch drivers designed specifically for a-Class subs, into a multi-ply laminated birch cabinet that yields low-end response down to 38Hz. A four-inch voice coil permits the drivers to achieve high power handling with decreased power compression. Amplification for the speakers was generated by VUEDrive V4 and V6 Systems Engines, and the PA was fed with sources from a Midas PRO2 digital mixer.
Houser also acted as the FOH engineer for ‘Cirque Goes to the Movies’ and continued with the following: ”The Conductor’s Circle is typically a problem spot in the venue, as people sit around the orchestra. In the past, people have complained that the coverage is uneven, that every seat sounds different and whether or not you hear good sound depends upon the location of your seat. After the Philly POPS’ Cirque event, many audience members commented on the incredible difference in sound from the main VUE system.
Louis Scaglione, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Philly POPS concluded by stating how he found the speakers seamless — the Philly POPS sounded like an orchestra, NOT an orchestra through a PA. ‘Cirque Goes to the Movies’ marks the first time that Houser Audio brought a VUE al-Class Line Array to the Verizon Hall, and since then there has been talk about upgrading their old house system.
For next season – running from September through May – the venue will require Houser Audio to bring in the VUE system for any and all performance series as the resident sound provider for the POPS.