American Repertory Theater Takes Immersive Plunge with Meyer Sound Technology

(Jeremy Goldenberg)

A recipient of nineteen Tony Awards, the American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.) in Cambridge, Massachusetts is widely recognized as a focal point for artistic and technological innovation, seeking to “expand the boundaries of theatre by programming events that immerse audiences in transformative theatrical experiences.” This commitment is bolstered under the leadership of Executive Producer Diane Borger and Diane Paulus, who holds the endowed position of A.R.T.’s Terrie and Bradley Bloom Artistic Director. To support this ambitious endeavor, A.R.T. recently acquired an extensive Meyer Sound system consisting of a D-Mitri digital audio platform and a complement of 88 self-powered loudspeakers, including new LINA line arrays and an immersive surround setup incorporating proprietary IntelligentDC technology.

The new setup is a product of close collaboration between ART Sound Manager, Samuel Lerner and Meyer Sound’s technical support staff.  At the heart of A.R.T.’s immersive setup is a D-Mitri digital audio platform equipped with seven modules for core processing, digital and analog I/O, GPIO control and WildTracks recording and playback. When controlled via SpaceMap software, the system provides ultimate flexibility for dynamic 3D panning of sounds anywhere in the auditorium.

The equipment’s full potential will be employed with the forthcoming world premiere Jagged Little Pill, directed by Paulus, which incorporates the music of Alanis Morissette’s album into a new story. Sound design will be by Jonathan Deans, the acknowledged pioneer of immersive audio not only on Broadway, but also in Las Vegas for productions like The Beatles’ LOVE by Cirque du Soleil.


Photo: Jagged Little Pill

According to Deans, the augmented system easily handles the show’s wide dynamic range. “We are nowhere near tapping out the LINAs, let alone the LEOPARDs. We could shake the building, but the purpose is not to do that. What we needed was something that was powerful and coherent, yet at the same time delicate and beautiful. It’s a very transparent and focused system.”

A.R.T. is also among the first theatres to deploy the LINA very compact linear line array loudspeaker. “The fact that you need so little electrical power to produce such quality at high levels is incredibly impressive. The same applies to the 750-LFC (low frequency control element). You look at it and wonder how something so small can be so powerful,” says Lerner.

The loudspeakers on surrounding walls incorporate Meyer Sound’s exclusive IntelligentDC technology, which combines the inherent sonic superiority of self-powered systems with the installation ease of low-voltage distributed systems. “The IntelligentDC speakers were a godsend,” explains Lerner, “the fact that you can run those speakers all flat-out – not just the little MM-4s but the big UPJs as well – off 48 volts just blows my mind.”


Photo by Jeremy Goldenberg

In addition to the eight-each LINA arrays, the complete Meyer Sound roster includes six 750-LFC and two 900-LFC low frequency control elements; two UPA-1P, four UPJ-1P and two UPQ-2P loudspeakers; eight UPJunior-XP, eight UPM-1XP, 10 UP-4XP, six UPJ-1XP and 22 HMS-5 surround loudspeakers with IntelligentDC; four Galileo GALAXY 816 networked processors; and two RMServers for remote monitoring of all loudspeakers. Additionally, two Meyer Sound CAL column array loudspeakers are installed in the lobby to provide highly controlled reinforcement in this acoustically problematic space.

Although the primary impetus for upgrading the sound capabilities was to enhance A.R.T.’s productions, Lerner also stresses the theatre’s important role in education and training. “Students enrolled in Harvard’s new Theatre, Dance, and Media concentration are engaging with the new system” he says. “In addition, we host frequent workshops and trainings for the Greater Boston theatre community for practicing freelance designers as well as students looking to enhance their skills. It’s critical that we provide opportunities for young sound designers to extend their horizons because they will be the innovators of the future. With the new equipment from Meyer Sound, we can give them the tools they need to push their creativity to the limit.”

Gear List

eight-each LINA array

six 750-LFC

two 900-LFC low frequency control elements

two UPA-1P

four UPJ-1P

 two UPQ-2P loudspeakers

eight UPJunior-XP

eight UPM-1XP

10 UP-4XP

six UPJ-1XP

22 HMS-5 surround loudspeakers with IntelligentDC

four Galileo GALAXY 816 networked processors; and

two RMServers for remote monitoring of all loudspeakers

two Meyer Sound CAL column array loudspeakers

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