A New Jersey concert hall offers concessions without compromise.
The main auditorium, Prudential Hall, at New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) has always grappled willingly with everything from Beethoven to Bernstein. Recently, trends in popular music have created an increasing drive to present amplified concerts. Unable to meet such demands with their twenty year old loudspeaker system, NJPAC turned to leading consultants and d&b Installation partner Acme Professional.
“The original sound system and concert acoustics were designed by Artec and the now sadly missed Russell Johnson,” explained Pete Cosmos, project leader for Acme. “My business colleague, Tom Clark, began his career at Artec in ’95 and NJPAC was his first project, so we have deep historical connections.”
“The room presents as a classic European opera house with four tiers above the stalls,” commented Paul Allshouse Head of Audio at the venue. “Even with acoustic banners and curtains in and the concert ceiling collapsed, the hall remains lively and inclined to boom. The aim of our brief was for best quality listening experience for all seats. Concessionary prices were to be solely by measure of their distance from stage, not what our audiences could hear.
“I’d first encountered d&b when touring Europe with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and had been blown away,” recalled Allshouse. “More recently we had several tours come through with the d&b J-Series. With Barry Manilow I arranged for the system to stay in on a rest day. Again I was blown away. I was able to do things I’d not been able to before. So I was already predisposed to a d&b solution.”
Cosmos: “Our appraisal identified V-Series for optimum coverage and more than adequate headroom. Even so, when we came to demo and turned up the volume, we were surprised at how little the surfaces of the hall were tickled. It’s the off axis response of d&b systems in general that was responsible, typically very even and inclined to roll off above 12 kHz. ArrayCalc had shown this would be the case; even so, the lack of spurious HF hitting the walls defied expectation.
“It’s a slightly shorter array than might be suggested by the vertical dimension of the coverage area,” added Cosmos on the final design. “This is in part due to Acme’s design thesis. We know placing a line array system physically lower and closer to the stage stacked V-SUBs produces a more coherent sound, especially with such a steep array angle. Adding two extra V8s provides an increase in level over the significantly greater distance to the top tier. More significantly, the lower trim heights of the system enable the seating areas to be covered by fewer loudspeakers since the vertical coverage angle required is much smaller compared to a high flying truss position. Systems flown tighter to the stage and band also provide much more coherent time arrivals in all directions out into the house when combined with the stage energy.”
“No one seems to question how low rigged the system is,” concluded Allshouse, “they just go with it. In twelve months not one touring production has asked why. I believe that’s predicated on experience; they are well used to encountering d&b house systems and know such installations aren’t casually thrown together.”
Photographs courtesy of Steve Hockstein (interior) and Chris Lee (exterior).