Abravanel Hall is the 2,800-seat home of the Utah Symphony and the principal concert venue of Salt Lake County Center for the Arts (CFA), with acoustics designed primarily for classical music presentations by renowned acoustician Dr. Cyril M. Harris. To deliver an equally exceptional live experience for the amplified programming as the unamplified classical events, a Meyer Sound system based on 26 M'elodie line array loudspeakers has been installed.
Noting the live architectural acoustics in the shoebox-shaped venue, Paco Aguilar, the venue's technical director, reports: "Amplified sound in here could be murderous. The M'elodie system is immensely better at keeping sound focused on the seats, and the improvement is astonishing."
The M'elodie arrays are supported by six 500-HP subwoofers, with all six configured as a cardioid array in an overhead soffit built for the former main cluster. Two UPQ-1P and UPJ-1P VariO loudspeakers share the same space as a new center cluster, while 14 discreet UP-4XP loudspeakers are deployed as front fill and side proscenium fill for the tiers. All loudspeakers are custom painted and are equipped with the RMS remote monitoring system. TALASKE acoustical consultants of Oak Park, Ill. was enlisted for the demo specifications, with the final installation handled by local systems integrator Performance Audio.
The system's power and punch was certified by an October appearance by the Christian rock band Casting Crowns.
"As we expected, the sound for that show was amazing," testifies Aguilar. "Even though it was quite loud for a live room like this, the mix was always clear and controlled."
On the Mannheim Streamroller concert in December, Chuck Thomas, Abravanel's house sound engineer who is also touring monitor engineer for Gordon Lightfoot, says: "The house system worked extremely well. I walked to various areas of the room to listen. The proscenium fills were very present and the music was crystal clear. When I sat at the FOH position for the second half of the show, the sound was excellent as well."
This Meyer Sound installation was the first for Performance Audio, but the company's John Andersen says others are already in the works. "We enjoyed the whole experience," he says, "and the sound that was achieved in there is just phenomenal."
For Paco Aguilar, the decision to hang M'elodies brought overdue relief. "I can sleep at night because I know that we're always ready for the next show that rolls in. I know everything will be working 100%, and if for any reason it isn't, Meyer Sound will make sure it's back to 100%—very quickly."
Opened in 1979 as Symphony Hall, the venue was re-named in 1993 for long-time Utah Symphony conductor Maurice Abravanel. Acoustics were designed by Dr. Cyril M. Harris, also known for his work on Avery Fisher Hall and The Kennedy Center.