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New Meyer Sound CAL anchors VA System at Melbourne’s Hamer Hall

A €105-million revamp to the Hamer Hall in Australia's Arts Centre Melbourne saw the installation of the largest and most sophisticated Meyer Sound system in the Southern Hemisphere

Following a two-year, $136-million (€105m) inside-out redevelopment, Australia’s Arts Centre Melbourne reopened its 2,464-seat Hamer Hall with one of the Southern Hemisphere’s largest and most sophisticated Meyer Sound systems.

Featuring the advanced precision beam steering technology in the CAL column array loudspeaker, which began shipping this year, Hamer Hall is now outfitted with 147 self-powered Meyer Sound loudspeakers operating in three modes tailored to different acoustic and amplified events.

Two CAL 64 column array loudspeakers handle both emergency voice alerts and any speech applications with orchestral concerts, such as narration or comments from the conductor.

According to Nick Carroll, operations manager for sound at Arts Centre Melbourne, the combination of CAL and other Meyer Sound loudspeakers neatly fulfills both the hall’s sound system design and acoustical requirements.

“We have small Meyer Sound MINA arrays tucked away behind grilles for use with some amplified events,” stated Carroll: “For orchestral concerts, the MINAs are not used and a solid wooden door slides in front of them. The adjoining CALs then cover the stalls and many of the upper seats without hitting the balcony front.”

CAL features tight-packed high- and low-frequency drivers all individually amplified and processed to accurately direct the sound to the listeners while avoiding undesirable reflections.

In Hamer Hall, the CAL systems are utilised in two modes: for limited voice announcement and voice alert, the CAL beams have a 30º spread and are aimed 12º up; when used with the drop-down center cluster for conductor comments or narration, the CAL loudspeakers have a 15º spread aimed 1º down. These modes are activated through presets in the hall’s extensive control and distribution system based on the D-Mitri digital audio platform.

While the CAL loudspeakers are always available, the setup for amplified pop and rock events remains stowed above the louvered stage ceiling and drops down only when needed. The main system comprises left and right flown arrays of nine MILO line array loudspeakers and one 700-HP subwoofer; a center cluster of eight MINA line array loudspeakers; and four balcony delays each with six Melodie line array loudspeakers and a single 500-HP subwoofer. Five Melodie loudspeakers and two 700-HP subwoofers supply wide-stall coverage for each side.

For modest music amplification with the main arrays stowed, the six MINA loudspeakers and one 700-HP hidden in each lower niche are augmented by four MINA loudspeakers in the upper niches on each side. Rounding out the system are 20 UPM-1P and two UPM-2P loudspeakers under the balcony and circle; and three front-fill systems to accommodate stage extension and event modes: 15 MM-4 loudspeakers in ‘pit down’ mode, eight UP-4XP 48 V loudspeakers in acoustic mode, and eight M1D line array loudspeakers in full concert mode. The entire system is driven using the D-Mitri digital audio platform with 12 processing and I/O units, offering a total of 102 outputs. FOH and monitor consoles are DiGiCo SD7 with dual engines to run in mirror mode.

In addition to concerts by the Melbourne Symphony and Australian Chamber Orchestra, Hamer Hall has been booked for shows by the Cape Town Opera, Rufus Wainwright, Macy Gray, the Legendary Count Basie Orchestra, and the folk rock band America.

Lead sound system consultant for the Hamer Hall project was John Alekna of Marshall Day Acoustics. The in-house team participating in system design included, in addition to Carroll, Frank Ward, Peter Ripon, Simon Austin, David Harvey, and Chris King, with additional contributions by Meyer Sound Design Services. The system was commissioned by Bob McCarthy with assistance from Chris Braun.