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The Centaur Earns Grandstand Finish with Meyer Sound M1D
Horse racing is a national obsession in the UK, but racecourses here are recognizing that they occupy prime locations for many other types of event. For business or leisure, these non-urban sites provide good facilities with easy access and a colorful backdrop – so it's no surprise that one of the finest in the UK has gone one step further and built its own multi-purpose venue. Cheltenham's course is the home of the prestigious Gold Cup, and its new structure, The Centaur, has been dovetailed onto its famous grandstand complete with a Meyer Sound self-powered M1D ultra-compact curvilinear array sound system.
Cheltenham-based Event & Management Services provided technical consulting on the Centaur installation, and, having selected the M1D system as the ideal audio solution, called upon Meyer Sound dealer Marquee Audio to supply and install it. "I worked closely with Peter Allison at Event & Management Services, who knew all of the building's technical requirements," says Marquee Project Manager Scott Wakelin. "Meyer Sound was the product he wanted, and we gave him a couple of variations. We settled on the M1D system for its power in relation to size."
"Given the sheer variety of events that The Centaur is designed for, including visiting productions with their own systems, there was no need for a heavy-duty speaker system that could end up under-exploited," points out Allison, managing director of Event & Management Services. "So we looked for the ideal solution for conferencing, classical music, light cabaret at a race meeting and so on. A compact line array fitted the bill, because the 17 meter headroom was great for flying a rig, and the M1D boxes are small, discreet and self-powered."
Ten M1D cabinets and two M1D-Sub ultra-compact subwoofers are hung on each side, supplemented by a center cluster of two UPJ-1P compact VariO loudspeakers. Two UPM-1P ultra-compact wide coverage loudspeakers provide balcony fill. The arrays and center cluster are flown from a substantial mother-grid trussing solution, allowing the coverage to ebb and flow with the events being staged. The venue itself ranges from a capacity of 2,150 seated to 4,000 standing, with highly variable options between stage, catwalk, stalls and cabaret/dance floor.
The installation enables Centaur staff to switch off the top four boxes in each array if only the floor area is being used. Should a large-scale production come in with its own ground-stacked loudspeakers, the arrays can be adjusted easily to focus on the balcony seating. Most importantly, selectable delay and EQ settings have also been installed to allow for variations in the positioning of the arrays.
"When configured for both floor and balcony coverage, the system puts just over 86dB on the back wall – which for a speaker that size is amazing," adds Wakelin. "When you're actually in the venue you can barely see them."
Crucial to the flexibility of the venue is the system of tie lines designed and installed by Marquee Audio, a 48-way conduit accessible at five different positions. Alongside is a total of 16 channels of data and technical control cabling, which appear at a further five follow-spot and managerial positions. On top of this infrastructure, ready for anything from touring productions to OB (outside broadcast), sits a layer of audio control combining Meyer Sound's LD-3 compensating line driver, BSS Soundweb and an Allen & Heath ML3000 console.
The Centaur is now marketing itself as Southwest England's premier venue for sporting events, concerts, comedy shows and musicals as well as the corporate and conferencing dimension already established at the racecourse. Amidst a plethora of technical specifications, Allison singles out the audio system for particular praise. "Once we'd decided on the line array principle, and then the M1D," he says, "we let Marquee Audio and Meyer Sound design the system and it was a very happy solution. As project managers, we gave a remit for systems of excellence throughout – and that's what we got."
But Allison is not the only one recognizing the success of the Centaur's new sound system: Marquee Audio has received the 6th Annual AV Awards' AV Project of the Year for their work on the Centaur installation. Andy Huffer, Marquee's sales director glowed, "Naturally, we're over the moon at winning this award, as it reinforces Marquee's position as one of the UK's key audio system providers. It also further strengthens our relationship with Meyer Sound, as we strive to broaden the products' appeal."