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Tannoy loudspeakers sound and look good in cultural centre

Paddy Baker 2 September 2015
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Tannoy’s Dual Concentric loudspeakers are integral components in a new state-of-the-art AV system in the Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles. Since 1996, the centre has gained a reputation as one of the world’s foremost Jewish cultural institutions, a leading cultural venue and a truly elegant event space designed by renowned architect Moshe Safdie.

With the latest addition to the campus, the 4,100sqm Herscher Hall/Guerin Pavilion, Skirball has dramatically enhanced its ability to serve the 600,000 some patrons who visit annually. Lauded by the New York Times as a lesson on how to connect the eye to heart and mind, the Guerin Pavilion combines exceptional versatility and high aesthetics.

“The Dual Concentric design originally comes from our studio monitors from back in the day,” said Dudley McLaughlin, consultant manager, install and tour, North America, for TC Group. “And the intelligibility and musicality they offer is a huge part of why they’re used when clarity is critical.”

The bulk of the Tannoy loudspeakers used in the project were deployed in the facility’s 850sqm ballroom: a distinctive and highly flexible space used for conferences, corporate gatherings and celebrations of virtually any description.

“It’s a complicated space meant to fulfil many roles,” said Corey Salvatore, CTS, senior consultant at Acentech, designers of the venue’s audiovisual, architectural acoustics and IT systems. “The ballroom can be partitioned into three spaces or a combination thereof and there are four meeting rooms on the third floor above it, for smaller events, or for overflow for events taking place in the ballroom.”

Salvatore worked closely with project architect Belinda Valenti (then associate principal of Safdie Architects) to ensure the seamless integration of the audiovisual elements into the architecture of the space. The resulting facility, which won the 2014 BizBash National Event Style Award for Best New Venue for Meetings and Events, is “spectacular”, said Ben Elisondo, vice president, operations for Skirball. “It has 45ft [14m] high vaulted ceilings, Douglas fir beams arching over the top, 96 skylights. It’s gorgeous.”

Aesthetics and hig- quality sound reinforcement were equally important considerations, according to Salvatore, and influenced his choice of Tannoy for reinforcement of speech and music in the ballroom and meeting rooms.

In all, eight rows of five Tannoy VX 12HP loudspeakers running the length of the ballroom are mounted on truss suspended from the ceiling and concealed from the audience by decorative aluminium elements. The VX 12s are time-aligned so when the entire ballroom is in use the sound appears to be coming from the stage end of the room. They are also zoned to optimise coverage and eliminate feedback when the ballroom is partitioned.

Salvatore explained: “We specified the VX 12s because we needed intelligible audio with full-range response – there are no subwoofers. The speakers are used for reproducing speech as well as music for the various events taking place on any given day. There’s a glass wall running the length of the ballroom, so we had to be careful to minimise any unwanted reflections in the space. The limitations that presented led us to the VX 12 because they have a very defined coverage pattern, allowed us to control the audio and eliminate spillover onto adjacent surfaces.”

Additionally, two Tannoy CMS 501DCs and two iw 6TDCs were installed in the meeting rooms for use during events held in those spaces or in tandem with the VX 12s. The iw 6s are mounted behind acoustic panels, which have a cutout for a video display, keeping them visually unobtrusive. “It’s a very high aesthetic space throughout and the iw and CMS allowed us to get quality audio and full frequency range without sacrificing aesthetics,” said Salvatore. Like the ballroom, these spaces also have a glass wall on one side and the iws wide and controlled dispersion pattern helped eliminate reflections.

The compact footprint of the CMS was also beneficial. “We were required by the curvature of the ceiling to use a small speaker, but still needed maximum output and control. Sonic consistency throughout the facility was also a consideration,” Salvatore added: “Tannoy products, generally, are voiced similarly and we wanted the systems throughout to sound as consistent as possible.”

Other elements include a Biamp Tesira audio DSP platform for providing the audio processing and routing, Crown amplifiers to drive the loudspeakers, wireless Crestron control and a variety of input and playback options in each space.

“From an install perspective, the central challenge was mounting the VX 12s behind the decorative cloud skin features, without sacrificing sound quality,” said Eric Johnson, design engineer at AVDB Group, the integrators on the project. “But everything blended nicely and the system was easy to tune even though the room was fairly reverberant.”

“When I first heard the system it actually hadn’t been tuned, but I thought it had. Tannoy really stepped up to the plate,” added AVDB general manager Paul Turner. “If they’re not specified we often default to Tannoy for their sonic performance.”

For Ben Elisondo the beauty of Herscher Hall/Guerin Pavilion goes beyond the fact that it’s a spectacular venue: “It has major versatility and gets used a lot for private events. If we have major live performances we augment with portable speakers, but the majority of the time we use the Tannoy system and we’re very pleased.”

Tannoy, part of TC Group

Skirball Cultural Center

AV and acoustics designer Acentech

Integrator AVDB Group

Safdie Architects

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