UC Davis Mondavi Center Sings with Meyer Sound M'elodie
Robert and Margrit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts at University of California Davis campus enjoys a well-deserved reputation as a premiere performance venue in Northern California. Named after the family that founded the famous Robert Mondavi Winery in the Napa Valley, the Center hosts more than 100 performances annually, including world-renowned philharmonic orchestras, rock concerts, lectures and dance performances, as well as various programs presented by UC Davis. Jackson Hall, Mondavi's 1,801-seat venue designed with exceptional natural acoustics mimicking the world's best classical concert halls in Vienna and Amsterdam, is now equipped with a pristine sound system comprising Meyer Sound M'elodie line array loudspeakers and 600-HP subwoofers.
Jackson Hall is considerably deep, with rear seats as much as 148 feet from the proscenium, which makes M'elodie a perfect fit. "M'elodie has an exceptionally tight focus, even to the back of the hall," explains John Dorsey, Director of Production and Facilities. "There's a distinctive drop-off when you stand up in the last row. We're able to precisely aim the sound at the seats, and keep it off the walls."
While the M'elodie system is used for the majority of the productions at Mondavi Center, the celebrated acoustics of the hall allows for unamplified classical and solo performances. In such situations, depending on the performance, the hall's natural acoustics can be altered by way of forestage reflectors and stage lifts as well as a large orchestra shell on air casters. "The shell is used when the P.A. is not in play." In those cases, the line arrays are lifted via winches into the ceiling of the hall. "The M'elodie's compact size makes them ideal for those scenarios," says Dorsey.
One of the biggest challenges here, as in many venues, is that of spoken word performances. "In a sense it's almost easier to mix the Rolling Stones than one guy talking," says Dorsey. "Musical performances are a bit more subjective, but everyone wants to hear every word of a spoken presentation, and it has to be clear, intelligible and intimate from every seat in the house. The M'elodie system performs remarkably well for the spoken word; we're thrilled."
"It's hard to comprehend the power and the throw of M'elodie when you look at the size of the cabinet," adds Dorsey.
A total number of 28 M'elodie cabinets are installed, with four 600-HP subwoofers providing low end. Processing for the system is handled by a Galileo loudspeaker management system. The venue's consoles have also been upgraded, with a Midas Legend desk at FOH and a Yamaha M7CL on monitors, or as an alternative FOH console.
"The difference in the hall's sound is quite dramatic," Dorsey concludes. "We now have a system that matches or exceeds what you'd expect to find in this type of world-class facility."