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AUDIO DESIGN

How should your space sound? We provide consulting and design for your loudspeaker systems, processing, monitoring, mixing and control to support intelligibility, performance, communication and to create soundscapes.  We also design mass notification systems so that venues can communicate effectively during emergencies.

What are the trends in game day audio?

Speakers have become incredibly space-efficient for high sound quality and excellent coverage. This trend to smaller equipment is providing big wins for venues as equipment rooms shrink and the profile of speakers become easier to integrate and require less rigging and structural steel to support. The other big trend is convergence. It's becoming more and more difficult to draw lines between what is audio, what is video and what is IT. With networked audio solutions and the leveraging of handheld devices during game day – in addition to technology like RFID bands and QR codes -- the conversation is becoming less and less about what is new in audio and more about designing a holistic, immersive experience that offers a depth of experience that can't be recreated outside the venue.

Why is it so difficult to get quality amplified sound in a concert hall?

Few concert halls have the luxury of only hosting unamplified performance. The realities of venue management require a broader program and dates where amplified concerts, corporate meetings and other events have use of the hall. Many halls struggle with these "atypical" performances because the audio systems tend to project energy onto reflective surfaces creating undesirable echoes negatively impacting intelligibility. To achieve quality needed, audio designers use beam steering techniques to keep the audio into the audience and off of the reflective surfaces—a process that requires a great deal of computer modeling and a bit of artistry to get just right.

ACOUSTIC DIMENSIONS is often called to assist venues where amplified performance was not a part of the initial program, but was added later into the venue to design systems that optimize intelligibility without compromising the natural acoustic characteristic of the hall.

 

How do you support stereo imaging and speech intelligibity for a space with high-energy worship music?

That was the question posed to us by the team at Venture Christian Church in Los Gatos, California. The desire was to make improvements to the speaker system in their worship center to provide for both good intelligibility and stereo imaging. The original system was made up of three line arrays along the front of the room. To the casual observer, it looks like the design intent was to do a Left/Center/Right system with this configuration (which it could never properly do). However, the original design was actually being mixed more like an exploded mono system with most audio signals being bussed to all three primary speaker sources.

The renovation plan was to reuse the existing speakers plus augment this equipment with additional new speakers and amps so that the system would work as a true Left/Center/Right speaker system. The Left and Right speakers were reworked from 5 box arrays to 7 box arrays and were move closer in towards the center of the room for better stereo imaging. The center line array was replaced with a conventional array that would provide significantly wider horizontal coverage and delay and side fill speakers were installed to provide improved coverage to the extreme sides and back of the room. Once the system was installed and testing completed, it was determined that the coverage over the entire room was +/- 1dB at all seats. In addition to better coverage, the new system provides improved clarity, tonal response and stereo imaging.

 

Can the acoustics of a room be changed electronically?

Architecture is the driver for the acoustics of a space, but what if the architecture is not ideal?  Or what if a range of performance types require differing acoustic environments? An acoustic enhancement system (sometimes called electronic architecture) is a type sound reinforcement system used to supplement the natural acoustics of the room.  The systems use microphones to pick up the natural sound from the platform, process it, then reproduce it using amplifiers and loudspeakers integrated into the walls and ceiling of the room.

   

ACOUSTIC DIMENSIONS often works with clients who either have competing program elements or are creating musical performance in less than ideal spaces where electronic architecture can enhance the experience. At Stonebriar Community Church, the desire to create a fan shaped room which would support preaching and minimize the distance from the congregation to the platform was in direct conflict with the desire to create a room that is supportive of a traditional worship style focused on choir, orchestra, and a pipe organ.  Although large, the natural acoustics of the room are well controlled and fairly dry – very supportive for the effective communication.  The electronic enhancement system adds additional acoustical energy into the room, using over 100 speakers to simulate the early reflections and reverberation that would be found in a high end concert hall.  The room now has a flexible acoustical signature that supports the elements on stage.

 

What do you do when you get the call for an all-glass cathedral with a history of audio challenges?

The solution wasn't simple. We used line arrays, beam shaping, and a combination of EQ, band limiting and phase shifting to get the coverage and imaging right while avoiding the balcony face. For the center cluster, there are two arrays of five cabinets each that hang side by side to cover the floor. Amplitude tapering and some frequency shading allowed consistent coverage on the floor and limited overspray on the balcony face. Hanging between those two clusters is another array of boxes that cover the balcony. Beam shaping is used to hit just the balcony and miss the face below. The left and right clusters are a similar concept resulting in an 8 channel surround sound system.

Of course working in an all-glass structure wasn't the only unique element. It was the first time we ever got a call late at night because a flying boat had knocked a speaker off axis. In addition to weekly services and a national broadcast, the Crystal Cathedral offered a wide array of high-end productions--many of which featured actors in aerial harnesses.

 

How do you design an audio system for a deaf congregation?

You might not expect a Deaf congregation to need a loudspeaker system; however, Brentwood's Deaf Chapel is designed with families in mind.  Still, music for Deaf individuals is a primarily a tactile and visual experience. Before the chapel opened, Brentwood would pass out balloons which would vibrate giving the sensation of the music. Building on this concept, the  floor for the Deaf Chapel was designed to vibrate with the music. There are two seating areas built up on wood on isolators that connect to the concrete. The floor utilizes 36 tactile transducers (bass shakers) which provide a natural feeling and enveloping tactile response for the audience. The vibrating finish floor had to be resiliently mounted on the structural slab and separated from the perimeter walls with neoprene pads. This floor, typically the simplest of constructions in a hearing church, proved to be one of the most challenging aspects of the Brentwood project.