Meyer Sound Installs Constellation System at Monash University

Meyer Sound Constellation Expands Musical Possibilities at Monash University in Melbourne

A Meyer Sound Constellation acoustic system has been installed in the 561-seat Alexander Theatre at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. The Constellation system is the first in a dedicated performing arts venue in Australia.

The impetus to renovate and repurpose the 50-year-old auditorium originated with Professor Paul Grabowsky , recognising that the theatre’s physical acoustics were poorly suited to musical performance, university administrators engaged the international consulting firm Arup to evaluate possible solutions.

Paul explained: “We were given two options, one was to create an acoustical environment suitable for music through physical means by use of materials and slightly reconfiguring the space. But no matter what was done it could never be great acoustically because of the existing constraints of the building structure.”

The other solution presented was an active acoustic system, Paul added: “Initially I was very skeptical, when you talk about intervening in a space with electro-acoustic devices, your mind immediately goes to, ‘Well, why would you want to do that? It’s not genuine.’ But the potential was intriguing so I decided to give it a listen.”

The Constellation system comprises three elements: sensing of the ambient acoustics, high-resolution digital processing using the patented VRAS acoustical algorithm, and distribution of early reflections and reverberant signals using more than 150 loudspeakers. For ambient sensing, 16 compact cardioid microphones are placed on stage, 16 miniature cardioid microphones are placed in the auditorium, and eight boundary-mounted omnidirectional microphones are placed in the orchestra pit.

The processing is accomplished by a D-Mitri digital audio platform with 18 modules for input and output, core processing, and creation of the acoustic presets. The loudspeaker complement includes 133 full-range Meyer Sound systems (MM-4XP, UPM-1XP, UP-4XP, and UPJunior-XP) along with 19 compact subwoofers (UMS-1XPSM and MM-10XP).

As all Constellation loudspeakers are self-powered and receive dedicated, discrete input signals from D-Mitri, the hardware component also provides a dynamic, immersive sound environment with Meyer Sound’s SpaceMap™ 3D panning software. Using SpaceMap with the Constellation infrastructure allows dynamic movement of multiple sounds in three dimensions throughout the auditorium.

Paul added: “The possibility of using the spatiality of the system enables one to add a new dimension to a musical composition that has been talked about for perhaps a half a century, but has never been realised to this extent. I remember when I talked with John Meyer he referred to Constellation as an instrument, not just equipment, and that’s a profound indicator of this system’s potential. It allows a degree of spatial flexibility beyond any other system I have experienced.”

In the first months since reopening, the Alexander Theatre has used Constellation to optimise acoustics for a wide spectrum of events, the theatre offers a direct reinforcement system anchored by twelve LEOPARD compact line array loudspeakers along with six 900-LFC low frequency control elements for deep bass support and eight MM-4XP miniature loudspeakers for front fill.