ProjectPERELMAN PERFORMING ARTS CENTERLocationNEW YORK CITY, USAArchitectREX (NYC, USA)InstallerSound AssociatesAcousticianThreshold Acoustics (Chicago, IL)Submitted byd&b audiotechnik

A cultural jewel at the heart of the redeveloped WTC site in lower Manhattan, the Perelman Performing Arts Center represents the pinnacle of 21st century performance venue design. Fittingly for such a historic and hallowed location, the Perelman’s stunning translucent marble edifice houses sophisticated performance and theatrical facilities.

Its three auditoria can operate independently, or be combined and adapted into more than 60 stage-audience configurations to produce a vast range of theatre formats and performance types for audiences from 90 to 950. And of course, such an advanced and ambitious space required a sound system to match.

Charcoalblue was hired as theatre consultant. Josh Loar oversaw the completion of the project as Senior Consultant. The Perelman had developed a uniquely ambitious programming brief to serve a wide range of musical events, as well as theatre, dance, opera, spoken word and film. The plan focused on delivering a “kit of parts” – a system of equipment that could be repurposed across the many different configurations to suit the venue’s varying production needs.

The approach was to provide a stock set of configurations that would act as a baseline for the venue – to allow rental or short-run events to choose one of the Perelman’s already-tuned configurations and run with it. This approach allowed for these baseline system designs to be enhanced and adapted by visiting sound designers where needed.
The team settled on a point-source system to provide for a wide range of configurations. Further, they specified V-Series arrays and point sources paired with V-SUBs for end-stage and other array configurations. They also provided designs for a number of expanded systems: The Perelman elected to hold these designs as reference for rentals when needed.

To ensure that sound design possibilities matched the venue’s extraordinary flexibility and sound quality, the solution also included a d&b Soundscape system. d&b Soundscape is an advanced immersive sound solution that enhances the connection between performance and audience, creating a more realistic and natural sounding experience.

The resulting sound solution is a carefully developed ‘kit of parts’ – a sound designer’s playground for art and innovation.

The biggest challenge for this project was the extraordinary degree of performance space flexibility. This meant that the solution had not only to provide a complementary suite of hardware that could be adapted to varying configurations (see above), but also the control infrastructure to enable fast turnarounds with the very highest levels of sound quality to maximise the audience experience.
While d&b Soundscape typically requires more loudspeaker positions than a traditional PA setup, the loudspeakers can often be smaller cabinets at each position, improving sightlines or can even be tucked away out of sight. Since both level and delay processing are independently utilized per loudspeaker position in real time, multiple loudspeakers are producing sound simultaneously to create accurate localization no matter where a listener is seated.

d&b En-Scene, the Soundscape software module for object-based signal management, extends the basic matrix function of the DS100 Signal Engine with an object-based positioning tool for every input. In addition to the possibility of independent positioning and moving up to 64 sound objects, an algorithm-based control of up to 64 loudspeakers is provided, based on the loudspeaker positions and their assignment to function groups.

Adding further to the sound design options is another Soundscape software module, d&b En-Space. This can enhance or build an acoustic environment, either indoor or outdoor, based on convolution of many impulse responses captured in acoustically renowned performance spaces ranging from chamber recitals to large concert halls.
One of the strengths of d&b Soundscape is that it can be quickly deployed in a new space every couple of days, without the complex tuning and setup required by some other immersive solutions. Having such a high number of possible configurations, and therefore requiring maximum flexibility and ease of deployment, as well as superb quality, the Perelman was a perfect fit for d&b Soundscape.

This project should win because, when it comes to sound for live performance, it is the absolute definition of the state of the art. As a professional sound installation, it ticks every box. Not only is the venue itself a hugely prestigious centre for the arts in one of the world’s greatest cities, but it has included in its design an incredibly ambitious level of flexibility, ensuring it has the wherewithal to provide a rich and varied program of performances to its audiences. What’s more, by partnering with Charcoalblue and d&b audiotechnik, it has achieved this by exploiting audio technology of the very highest standard. One of the most impressive performance venues in the world successfully combines its ambitious flexibility with speed, efficiency and quality.

Micah Zucker, Lead Audio for the Perelman, says, “It is very exciting to have a full d&b system with V line arrays and extensive Y point sources while also having dedicated DS100s and being able to utilize all that Soundscape has to offer. During our opening season, we have switched configurations regularly and the flexibility Soundscape provides gives us the ability to pivot from one configuration to the next.”