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Meyer Sound Fills Federation Square Inside and Out
Designed to provide Melbourne, Australia, with a unifying public space, Federation Square is a landmark destination, built over a major railway yard and linking the city's central business district to its riverfront. The city-block-sized development combines open spaces with innovative architecture housing museums, offices, restaurants, shops, and performance venues. A major public/private venture, the site is projected to draw some six million visitors a year, many of whom will come for events such as concerts, lectures, and impromptu performances. To ensure a level of production quality that will keep these visitors coming back, the Square's management recently invested in sound systems from Meyer Sound for their two most important presentation spaces.
The heart of Federation Square is the square itself, a sloping, sandstone-paved, irregularly-shaped plaza surrounded by raised planter beds, restaurants, cafes and bars. With a capacity of 10,000, the square features a Barco DLite LED screen for large-screen video and offers casual seating for outdoor performances, exhibitions, and outdoor viewing of events such as the Rugby World Cup.
"The square has Friday night jazz bands, mobile radio broadcasts, multimedia art demonstrations, exhibitions, and New Years Eve celebrations," says Matt Edgcumbe, who was project manager for the sound system installations by Rutledge Engineering of Northcote, Victoria. The setting, however, was not designed with acoustics in mind. "The speakers are directed towards buildings with some harsh surfaces," he says, so CQ-1 wide coverage loudspeakers were placed halfway down the plaza to enhance direct-field sound at the rear.
The square's main cluster is made up of three M2D compact curvilinear array loudspeakers and an M2D-Sub compact subwoofer. "The cluster is as close as practicable to the Barco," Edgcumbe says. "The cabinets are not necessarily set up as a line array, because the required vertical angle of dispersion is quite small. There is nowhere forward of the stage to fly the cluster from, so one of the main requirements was to project sound over the top of the stage without causing feedback."
Sound from the mains is complemented by six UPM-1P ultra-compact wide coverage loudspeakers installed within two galvanized poles. "These speakers," Edgcumbe says, "are primarily intended to provide ambient sound in the plaza using the audio tracks of the video or multimedia material showing on the LED screen."
Rutledge's Shane Cannon, who handled system sales on the project, says Meyer Sound loudspeakers were favored by sound consultants Marshall Day Acoustics for their reliability and resistance to the elements. "We took the weather-proofing option," he explains, "as some of the boxes are in the direct weather." Cannon adds that Meyer Sound loudspeakers also offered the perfect solution for the physical requirements in the plaza setting. "The Meyers were a great choice because they provide a lot of punch in such a small enclosure, which could be located within the center of the poles. And the combination of the pole delay stacks and the front-of-house cluster delivers great overall sound."
The installed system in the square can be supplemented by portable Meyer Sound loudspeaker elements on an as-needed basis. "Two UPA-2P compact narrow coverage loudspeakers can be used on stands for fill close to the stage," Edgcumbe says, "and there are also two UPM-1Ps for foldback." The same pieces can also be used in Federation Square's other venue, the BMW Edge. An indoor amphitheater seating from 290 to 450, BMW Edge is situated at the river end of the Atrium, a galleria-like structure made of glass, steel and zinc. BMW Edge is designed for music, small- to medium-scale theater and cabaret, comedy, talks, and presentations including product launches.
The glass structure posed a challenge in terms of rigging. "There were limited rigging points due to the barasol paneled ceiling," Edgcumbe says. "So we had an adapter bar manufactured to attach to Meyer Sound's MTG-2D top grid. This enabled us to drop cable slings through the narrow joins in the ceiling to pick up the grid, while still allowing some azimuth adjustment of the cluster."
With glass on three sides, Edgcumbe says, "it was important to direct the sound at the audience as accurately as possible. So we flew two M2Ds and an M2D-Sub on either side of the stage. They were selected because of their tight directional characteristics."
Cannon adds that the boxes were not used in a line array configuration, but as high-end cabinets. "This gave us scope to focus the sound given the speaker pattern and box characteristics. We had a great deal of glass to contend with, and the beam configuration of the cabinets allowed us to focus the sound right were we wanted it."