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John Pellowe observes: “The idea of putting a lot of loudspeakers and mics into rooms isn’t new, and the idea of voice lift systems isn’t new. What is new is that we now have the computational power to create many decorrelated signal paths such that adjacent microphones and loudspeakers are electronically decoupled from each other. We’re also able to optimise delays and other parameters necessary to create a system with the desired level of gain. “In some respects a voice lift

system is more of a challenge than a reverberation system because a high level of system gain is critically important – especially where microphones are some distance from people speaking. We achieve high gain in a number of ways and our early reflection processors are a fundamental part of this, ensuring that de-correlated

the right time.” The team aimed for an

RT appropriate for cinema, and ended up with a figure just slightly above this. This involved the use of various acoustic treatment measures by the architect – for instance, what looks like a wooden floor is actually a carpet. Following the installation of the Constellation system, the commissioning process included verification and tuning by Meyer Sound. Freddy Meyer from the company’s European Technical Services spent a

signals are applied to adjacent loudspeakers. There is no direct connection from the microphones to the speakers either, as all microphone signals pass through the early reflection processor before being applied to loudspeakers. “The secret of Constellation – both for reverberation and for early reflections – is that all the microphones and loudspeakers are decorrelated from one another. Conversely, where loudspeaker signals are correlated (the same sound on adjacent channels), as you increase system gain the risk of feedback increases because adjacent loudspeakers tend to behave like a single loudspeaker. With Constellation, all loudspeakers are de-correlated, so you can achieve higher system gain without coloration and low frequency build-up as gain is increased.”

week checking the system for “phase, level, appearance – everything”, according to Jørgensen. He took a lot of data back to Berkeley, where the Constellation team carried out calculations on how the system should be tuned.

FINE TUNING After that, senior scientist Dr Roger Schwenke and Constellation project designer Ana Lorente came to Jyske Bank and spent nine days tuning the system. Later on, Schwenke and Pellowe came back and did the final

Key players: (L-R) Steen Mertz of Jyske Bank, who instigated the project; Roger Schwenke of Meyer Sound, who voiced and calibrated the Constellation system; Anders Jørgensen of Stouenberg, who project-managed the Constellation install; and John Pellowe, Constellation project director at Meyer Sound

work – bringing the science and the emotion respectively to the sound, as Jørgensen describes it. Or, alternatively, “Freddy did the structural work, Roger did the scientific part, and John made the system sound as incredible as it does.”

The Constellation system uses Meyer Sound’s D-Mitri platform. Two D-Mitri processors contain the VRAS processors that are at the heart of Constellation – carrying out a staggering number of calculations 96,000 times per second. More than 60 speakers are used, along with 25 microphones. The speakers are predominantly a mixture of the compact 4in MM- 4XP and MM-4XPD models: the latter is the cardioid model, whose rear rejection minimises the level of sound exciting the curved ceiling. There are also eight MM-10XP mini subwoofers along the roofline, and two UP-4XP speakers, which provide sound reinforcement for the projection screen. Finally, four Stella-8C ceiling speakers relay Constellation output to the refreshment area. The system has a number

of operating modes. In Presentation mode, there is a strong emphasis on voice energy from the presenter in front of the videowall. If someone asks a question from somewhere else, this is returned to the presenter at a much lower level, “so the presenter certainly has the upper hand”, comments Pellowe.

In what the bank calls Debate mode, the gain is raised in the audience areas – “so the presenter still has the upper hand, but it’s more of an open platform”. In Conference Table mode,

An engineer’s sketch of the design for the condenser microphone mounts; these had to hold the microphones in place while also isolating them from rooftop noise and vibration

54 May 2014

energy is focused into the middle of the room, but the loudspeakers are muted in the rest of the room, so anyone chatting in a corner isn’t assisted by the

Constellation system. Small Groups mode – which Pellowe reports is the favourite of the bank staff – uses the VRAS processors in reverberation mode. “If you’re close to someone you can hear them very clearly, but if you’re far away, you can’t – the clarity deteriorates with distance,” explains Pellowe. There are also various music modes which are used by the company choir, and for special events such as company parties. The Constellation system is run via an AMX controller, which also looks after the videowall, lighting, conference systems and more. Alternatively, it can be controlled from laptop in the rackroom or via a web page. For each operating mode of Constellation, there’s a level control – adjusting the strength of the system depending on requirements. There are also four reverberation times, ranging from 0.8s to 4s – the latter being particularly enjoyed by the bank’s choir, says Pellowe. “It’s completely out of context for the space, but if you close your eyes you can imagine you’re in a cathedral – which is kind of cool.” “Steen says, ‘When nobody notices the system, it’s working perfectly,’” says Jørgensen. This is a feature common to many Constellation installations: the result sounds so natural that people aren’t sure if it’s switched on – until they hear the difference when it’s switched off. As Jørgensen himself puts it: “It should feel like the walls are talking to you in some way, rather than feeling like the room is being amplified artificially.” This project is a finalist for

two InstallAwards (Corporate/ Industrial category) next month – the Star Product Award (for Constellation) and the Teamwork Award. Jorgensen is particularly happy about the latter.

“We had a really productive collaboration with Meyer Sound,” he says. “Everyone we worked with knows what they’re doing, and knows what they’re talking about. If there’s something they’re not capable of, there’s always someone in the background who knows about that particular area.” Additionally, this was an unusual project in that two integration companies were involved: Mertz chose local company AV Centret to install the AV and control systems, with Stouenborg concentrating on Constellation (including interfacing it with the AMX system). “It was also really good to work with Jyske Bank and AV Centret. It’s a big achievement to get two AV suppliers to work together – that doesn’t normally happen in Denmark.” While Jørgensen admits to

having initially felt uneasy at the prospect of working alongside a competitor, he’s very pleased with the outcome. “On the level that we worked together, it was really good – and we’re talking about working together in the future because we can complement each other on different projects.” Pellowe is equally effusive about both integrators’ attention to detail throughout the project. He says: “This is one of the most perfectly executed installations I’ve encountered – the quality of the work is just outstanding.” 

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