Spain's Laboral University Auditorium Becomes Truly Multipurpose with Europe's First Meyer Sound Constellation System
Built in the mid-20th century to become a self-sufficient city for accommodating the children of mine workers, Laboral University (Universidad Laboral) is located in the outskirts of Gijón and is one of Spain's architectural jewels. After years of deterioration, the regional government launched a transformation program which includes a series of upgrades to expand the usage of the buildings. The goal was to accommodate a broader range of educational and live performance programs. A centerpiece of this visionary project was the renovation of the university's 1,400-seat auditorium, featuring a newly expanded stage house and Europe's first installation of Meyer Sound Constellation electroacoustic architecture, a groundbreaking technology that enables venues to provide optimal acoustics for any type of
The dry characteristic of the auditorium's acoustics was well suited for amplified events, however, it did not meet the reverberation criteria for the classical music presentations. In order to create a truly multipurpose venue capable of showcasing operas, symphonies, jazz concerts, movie screenings, lectures and plays, Laboral University installed a fully integrated Meyer Sound audio system which includes a Constellation system for acoustical enhancement and 44 self-powered loudspeakers for the sound reinforcement and cinema playback systems.
Having a seamlessly integrated solution was a determining factor for choosing the Meyer Sound solution, according to Rafael Mojas, Technical Director of the auditorium.
Part of Meyer Sound's LCS Series of innovative digital audio products, Constellation incorporates the physical acoustics of a space with powerful technology and expert services to create flexible acoustical environments. This advanced turnkey solution is based upon the company's patented VRAS technology and combines rigorous design, calibration, and certification methodologies with a flexible hardware and software package. Each Constellation system is designed from the ground up to match the specific needs and circumstances of the venue in which it is installed.
Constellation gives venues the ability to modify room acoustics, allowing them to host a wide range of events and provide each with the acoustics most appropriate for it. The system also provides a flexible electronic orchestra shell that improves the experience of the performers and enhances the intelligibility of spoken word presentations.
Laboral University's Constellation system is functionally separate from the Meyer Sound reinforcement and cinema systems. Depending on the event, the university's technical crew can use a touch screen controller to choose from a selection of Constellation presets programmed with varying reverberation times and early reflection content. The options include a performance and a rehearsal mode for symphonic, operatic and chamber presentations respectively, as well as a speech lift mode which ensures each spoken word is clearly heard. More presets can be added in the future as the need arises.
The auditorium's Constellation system was designed by Meyer Sound's Constellation team, which includes John Pellowe, a Grammy-winning classical recording engineer and Meyer Sound's project director for this Constellation installation. Pellowe recalls a convincing demonstration of the system's effect during rehearsals. "I didn't tell the musicians what I was doing. They sat down and played and then, during a break, I warned them I would be turning Constellation on and off while they were playing. They were shocked by the difference. They were not even aware they were playing in an enhanced environment until I turned it off."
The artists can now hear their peers better while performing. "With the Constellation system, we all feel more comfortable performing on stage," states Yuri Nasúshkin, conductor of the Asturias Youth Symphony Orchestra, after experiencing the system in the auditorium. "No one can complain about the acoustics in this room any longer."
Installed by Viella, Spain-based AV contractor Tecesa s.l. with support from Meyer Sound Spain, the installed audio system encompasses MS-Constellation processors, MS-VRAS processors, as well as Constellation microphones precisely placed to capture early reflections and the reverberant field. The resulting signals are processed and routed to the self-powered loudspeakers mounted discreetly throughout the auditorium.
When amplification is required, the auditorium is well equipped to handle productions ranging from rock concerts to Broadway-style theater, dance performances, and a full schedule of contemporary eclectic blends. The main Meyer Sound reinforcement system is anchored by left and right arrays of nine M'elodie ultracompact high-power curvilinear array loudspeakers. A pair of UPA-1P compact wide-coverage loudspeakers is used as a center cluster. Frontfill is supplied by a half-dozen UPJunior ultracompact VariO loudspeakers, with six 600-HP compact ultrahigh power subwoofers providing deep bass.
A separate cinema system utilizes three CQ-1 and three DS-4P horn-loaded mid-bass loudspeakers for the LCR signals, augmented by two 600-HP subwoofers for low frequency effects. A dozen UPJ-1P compact VariO loudspeakers are split between the orchestra and balcony levels for surround sound signals.
The main loudspeaker system was designed by Álvaro Elena of Meyer Sound Spain and the cinema system was handled by Meyer Sound Design Services using MAPP Online Pro acoustical prediction program. System tuning was accomplished with a SIM 3 audio analyzer and Galileo loudspeaker management system provides system drive and signal processing.
Within the first few days of operation, the Meyer Sound systems had already made an impression on the officials responsible for venue's restoration. "What we have seen and heard so far tell us we have a unique opportunity with the new system," remarks Fernández de León, Vice-councillor of the Agency for Cultural Development, Principality of Asturias. "We are very excited about Constellation, and we are confident it will bring out the best in this venue."