American Repertory Theatre

TECHNICAL DETAILS

Project:
American Repertory Theatre

Location:
Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA

Project Submitted By:
Meyer Sound, USA, Avid, USA, Shure, USA

CONCEPT

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.

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.

The American Repertory Theater (A.R.T) has an extraordinary track record as the incubator and proving ground for theatrical productions – both drama and musicals – that go on to become major Broadway hits. The winner of nineteen Tony Awards, A.R.T. is widely recognized as one of the leading regional theaters in term of both artistic and technical innovation.

One of the main challenges for A.R.T. as the “last stop” before Broadway is keeping up with the spiraling level of audio technology applied to top-level Broadway productions, musicals in particular. Sound has progressed from mono through stereo proscenium and surround to full immersive. Sound designers for such productions will specify extensive, custom-configured rental systems for Broadway, but expect the same capabilities at A.R.T. in a smaller house (about 550 seats) with a far more limited budget. Renting in a complete system in these circumstances is too costly and time consuming.

To meet this challenge, A.R.T.Sound Manager Sam Lerner worked with Meyer Sound to design a flexible system – proscenium and immersive – that could be quickly reconfigured to meet the demands of any production. The system relies on two proprietary technologies: the D-Mitri digital audio platform with SpaceMap software and IntelligentDC™ remotely self-powered loudspeakers.

The D-Mitri digital audio engine offers extraordinary flexibility as the core processing modules can be augmented with analog and digital input and output modules, matrixing modules and GPIO modules as needed. With all matrixing and routing under software control, the entire system can be reconfigured offline and transferred almost immediately into the system at the beginning of a new production.

Also unique to Meyer Sound is IntelligentDC technology, which combines the inherent sonic superiority of self-powered systems with the installation ease of distributed systems. Balanced audio signals and 48V DC power can be sent to each loudspeaker over a single 5-core cable that does not require conduit. More importantly in this application, every loudspeaker is separately addressable from a discrete output of the D-Mitri system, which enables the sound designer to assign and – using SpaceMap – dynamically move sounds to and from any loudspeaker or combination of loudspeakers. No rewiring or manual re-patching of amplifier inputs or outputs is ever required. While some of the loudspeakers at A.R.T. are permanently mounted, many are on yoke mounts that allow quick repositioning on the lighting grids as needed.

The American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.) in Cambridge, Massachusetts is widely recognized as a focal point for artistic and technological innovation. As stated on its website, A.R.T. seeks “to expand the boundaries of theatre by programming events that immerse audiences in transformative theatrical experiences,” a commitment 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.

“With a mission statement like ours, it’s critical that we can follow through on the promise with what we can do in sound,” says A.R.T. Sound Manager Sam Lerner. “Thanks to this new set of tools, we can do just this with every production. With such an adaptive setup, our sound team can fulfill the imaginations of our creative teams and respond to whatever need may arise.”

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.

A.R.T. is also among the first theatres to deploy the LINA very compact linear line array loudspeaker. “I’d heard the MINAs before, and the change to LINA comes with a big increase in efficiency,” says Lerner. “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.”