A thriving hub for the arts in the capital city of Taipei, the Taiwan Traditional Theatre Center is now the permanent home to the Guoguang Opera Company and the National Chinese Orchestra while also hosting a wide variety of other events on a rental basis. With the recent installation of a Constellation acoustic system — the first in Taiwan — the Center has enhanced the audience experience across all musical genres while at the same time reducing operating expenses and often eliminating costly down time between performances.
The impetus behind the eventual installation of Constellation stems from the original concept behind the Center’s main 1,055-seat performance hall, as explained by Technical Director Huai-min Jen.
“When the Center was first proposed nearly ten years ago, the resident opera company was transitioning to the use of wireless reinforcement for the singers,” he says. “The hall was designed with a relatively dry acoustic to accommodate amplification, which meant that a large and very cumbersome stage shell had to be erected to support orchestral performances. It required a crew of 10 or 15 to bring up from the basement as well as an entire day to set up and then take down, which cut into rental availability.”
Operating costs aside, the physical shell also introduced acoustical compromises. “The shell was not optimum for all performances,” Jen continues. “You can’t adjust it to provide the perfect environment for all performances. But now, with Constellation, we can instantly optimize for every performance and ensure the same listening experience at every seat.”
The Center is operated by a government entity, the National Center for Traditional Arts, so a rigorous bid tender process was required prior to selection of the active acoustic system. Final decision was entrusted to a committee; Jen was not a voting member though he did consult as part of a working group.
Four systems were evaluated, and Constellation was judged audibly superior. “Because they use a higher density of loudspeakers and microphones in the space, it is the only system that is natural,” says Jen. “You never feel like the sound is localized to a nearby loudspeaker.”
As installed, the Constellation system incorporates 128 full-range loudspeakers (Ashby-8C and Ashby-5C, MM-4XP, UP-4slim™, ULTRA-X20XP™) along with 16 subwoofers (MM-10XP™ and USW-112XP™) provided by Meyer Sound’s Taiwanese distributor, To Gather, with Taipei’s IN LI CHA Co. Ltd. consulting on complementary physical acoustics. Nancy Chen served as project liaison for To Gather.
Constellation was operational within the deadline, with final tuning following shortly thereafter. The system was programmed with 17 presets: 10 for the orchestra, one for opera and six options for rental clients. The longest preset, for choral music, extends the baseline RT60 of 1.2 seconds out to 3.8 seconds. The system also was programmed to offer Spacemap dynamic panning for spatial sound effects.
“When they brought in the 80-piece orchestra for final tuning, it almost brought tears to my eyes,” recalls Jen. “It was that good. I felt that now we truly have a theatre that also can be a world-class concert hall.
“Because we are the first [Constellation system] in Taiwan and we belong to the government, we can demonstrate to other multipurpose venues in the country how the experience of active acoustics can enhance and transform all types of performances. When other venues do renovations, they should consider this as an option to physical shells.”
Designed by Taiwanese architect Kris Yao of Artech, the Taiwan Traditional Theatre Center is located in the Shilin District of Taipei. It also includes a 300-seat experimental theatre and music library. The National Center for Traditional Arts operates under Taiwan’s Ministry of Culture.