Home of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, the Golden Hall of the Musikverein is described by the New York Times as “a model of acoustic perfection” for classical concert halls around the world. To optimize the speech clarity in this space characterized by its resonant, rich acoustics, the Musikverein has chosen the steerable Meyer Sound CAL™ column array loudspeakers.
“Everybody is very pleased with the intelligibility of the new system,” reports Martin Laumann, audio engineer contracted by the Musikverein. “Voices through CAL have more depth, reach, and clarity in a room where you often can’t understand a colleague talking to you from only five meters away.”
In specifying a loudspeaker for speech reproduction, Laumann reports that the room was faced with layers of acoustical and logistical challenges. First, the system had to cope with a reverberation time of well over two seconds—exquisite for orchestral music, but poor for speech intelligibility. The loudspeakers also had to be completely hidden from view behind a grille, fit inside a narrow space in a less-than-ideal location, throw clear sound nearly 50 meters to back of the second balcony, and present voices with a natural balance and timbre.
“We auditioned and measured systems from different manufacturers, and CAL was clearly the best solution,” says Laumann. “The CAL cabinets are more compact, the sound beam is better controlled, and the STI-PA intelligibility measurements show better values. CAL also fits neatly into the narrow space, so the loudspeakers remain invisible to the audience.”
Two CAL 64 column array loudspeakers are mounted side-by-side: the beam of one is aimed down at a 19-degree angle with a 20 degree vertical beam spread to cover the main floor; the other is aimed on axis with a 15-degree vertical beam spread to cover the two rear balconies. These two CAL loudspeakers are set up for failover redundancy. In addition, the system includes two MM-4XP self-powered loudspeakers to cover small seating areas behind the stage on each side of the organ loft.
The CAL system has been used extensively for voice narration in performances such as Tchaikovsky’s Peter and the Wolf, as well as for introductions and commentary by conductors, rehearsals, and educational programs.
Provided and installed by Sommerein, Austria-based ATEC Pro Audio under the leadership of Manfred Prochazka, the complete system also includes an Allen & Heath iDR-8 matrix mixer and processor with remote capability, as well as Sennheiser wireless microphones.
In the Musikverein’s 600-seat Brahms Hall, ATEC also installed a Meyer Sound UltraSeries™ loudspeaker system. To accommodate the hall’s flexible seating and staging, loudspeakers are placed and timed to allow either longitudinal or transverse seating, with main loudspeakers in one configuration serving as delays in the other. The system includes four UPJunior-XP 48 V VariO™ and four UP-4XP 48V loudspeakers, plus eight MM-4 loudspeakers. An Allen & Heath iDR-8 with a PL-10 remote controller provides mixing and processing.
The Golden Hall of the Weiner Musikverein (Vienna Music Association) seats 1,744 with standing room for an additional 300. The room’s ideal reverberation envelope and balanced sound diffusion are attributed to its elongated “shoebox” shape and its richly appointed interior, which presents thousands of varied surface shapes for generating multiple early and late reflections.