The New England Conservatory music school has recently completed the installation of a Fulcrum Acoustic loudspeaker array that features AH65 high-efficiency, full-range coaxial horns and RX699 coaxial loudspeakers.
The sound system has been installed in Jordan Hall in the venue, which hosts a range of student recitals and concerts from leading soloists and ensembles. The conservatory was founded in 1867 and Jordan Hall was built in 1903, both were declared National Landmarks in 1994.
“Jordan Hall hosts classical music concerts, as well as performances by our Jazz Contemporary Improvisation and Electronic Music programs,” explained New England Conservatory director of Audio Visual Services Lisa Nigris. “The acoustics are ideal for instrumental music but challenging when a singer was part of an amplified group, or when a symphonic work included a narrator, particularly in the balcony. We needed a high-quality sound system that could reach all areas of the hall.”
Nigris assembled a team for procurement, design, and installation through a collaboration with Rick Scott of Parsons Audio in Massachusetts, as well as Ean White of Incendiary Arts, LLC, and Fulcrum Acoustic’s Rich Frembes. Nigris worked with Frembes to design a system for Jordan Hall based on a horizontal array of three Fulcrum AH65 high-efficiency, full-range coaxial horns, flown from the proscenium in a centre cluster. To install the system, Scott brought in Ean White of Incendiary Arts, LLC, who was known to be an expert in rigging sound systems in historic buildings.
“The AH65 is the right speaker for the room,” said White. “The hall has a very high ceiling and long reverb times, and we needed broadband pattern control. It was a good match.” Fulcrum Acoustic AH Series loudspeakers are bi-amplified, two-way, high sensitivity, arrayable, coaxial horn systems that provide pattern control to below 400Hz and low frequency extension to 75Hz.
“The centre cluster really solved our articulation issues in the main space, but due to our limited rigging options, it could not be flown to cover the front rows or any of the under-balcony seats,” commented Nigris. “So we designed the system to include four Fulcrum Acoustic RX699s at the lip of the stage to cover the front seats and shoot under the balcony. They’re small, powerful, and sound terrific. In fact, I was so impressed with those boxes that I’ve since purchased four more to use as monitors.
“Of course, how it sounds is of the utmost importance, but when you’re talking about a national historic landmark, the sound system has to be visually unobtrusive. We needed the speakers mounted as close to the ceiling as possible to avoid blocking the view of the organ pipes and cherubs. The decor is very ornate, and the idea of cutting a hole somewhere almost gave me a heart attack. Fulcrum Acoustic’s willingness to work with us on colour matching was huge, and Ean did a magnificent job in the installation. Most people don’t even notice the speakers.”