For performing artists, open-air concerts present a rare opportunity to reach out to the community. But for the musicians, performing outdoors often becomes a compromise, as without the acoustic support of a stage shell, properly hearing each other can be a challenge. The Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra recently took to the stage supported by Meyer Sound's Constellation acoustic system, a first for an outdoor concert. The system uses a virtual electronic stage shell to give artists ideal acoustic conditions, while steering clear of the camera sightlines for the TV broadcast.
Installed at live performance venues like the Laboral University Auditorium in Spain and Zellerbach Hall in California, Constellation is an integrated acoustic solution that comprises proprietary processing algorithms, microphones, and loudspeakers to give venues the flexibility to host events with different acoustical requirements. In applications like the Star Wars:In Concert world tour, Constellation's Ensemble feature has equipped the 85-piece Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra with an electronic version of the traditional orchestra shell to allow the musicians to hear themselves in a familiar ensemble environment, without the need for any physical construction.
"Open-air shows with none or only a very distant orchestra shell require an enormous musician concentration so that they can follow the conductor," said Til Schwartz, co-founder of IT Audio, audio consultant for the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. "With Constellation, musicians have told us that the stage shell made performing much more relaxing, since they were now able to hear the other musicians as if they were in a controlled indoor situation."
Working closely with Meyer Sound's Constellation team and the Berlin Philharmonic's sound department, IT Audio specified a camera-friendly configuration that surrounded the orchestra area. The system consisted of 16 M1D line array loudspeakers overhead, six UPA-1P loudspeakers targeting towards the orchestra from behind, another four M1D line array loudspeakers on the floor and five UPJ-1P VariO loudspeakers on each side as lateral speakers. Also used were eight USW-1P subwoofers. The backbone of the Constellation system comprised a single MS-Constellation processor and three MS-VRAS processors. The entire system was set up and tuned in three days, with equipment supply from Weimar, Germany-based adapoe Event- und Studiotechnik GmbH.
IT Audio's co-founder Ivo König is pleased to have found an acoustic solution that he can use for future indoor or outdoor projects. "At any stage of the production, we can always fulfil the needs of the musicians by simply tweaking the Constellation's system setup, giving us a high level of flexibility to satisfy the crew and musicians," he said.