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Solutions: Constellation acoustics at Fosnavåg Cultural Centre

The Fosnavåg Cultural Centre stands on the island of Bergsøya just off the Norwegian coast. The centre has been designed for a range of uses and forms part of a new wider complex that includes a hotel and marine engineering and nautical training school. The venue houses the latest Meyer Sound Constellation acoustic system installation, used here to cover concert sound reinforcement, cinema and active acoustics.

Constellation is a linear, predictable system that combines electroacoustic technology with the physical architecture of the space to produce verifiable results and natural-sounding acoustics. The acoustic signature of the system is an enhanced version of the venue’s architectural acoustic, which helps to ensure a natural-sounding result is produced.

The focal point of the Fosnavåg Cultural Centre is the 490-seat Fosnavåg Konserthus. During the design process the technology committee had a clear vision to create a high-performance multipurpose space. “We wanted a perfect room for acoustic music and a perfect room for amplified music, but with conventional physical acoustics we couldn’t have both,” says Bjørn Holum, event manager for the Municipality of Herøy and the lead of the technology committee.

Following his first experience with Constellation in Estonia’s Nordea Concert Hall [formerly Nokia Concert Hall], Holum was quickly sold on the impact of the system. “When we first entered the hall, I was thinking, ‘This place already has a quite nice acoustic, why does it need digital enhancement?’ Then they turned off Constellation and I was stunned. With Constellation back on, we heard a chamber ensemble and I then had the opportunity to perform on stage. I was fully convinced.”

The Fosnavåg project stands out because the internal acoustics of the room have been specifically designed for Constellation, with a very low physical reverberation time that facilitates any type of application. Typical uses include: cinema (Constellation off); spoken word and drama (early reflections only); rock (Constellation set for very low reverberation time, 0.3s); chamber (1.8s); choral (2.8s).

Constellation’s reverberation processing operates under two basic principles: the apparent absorption of the venue is reduced through multichannel gain; and the apparent cubic volume of the venue is increased via the multichannel coupled reverberator. The system also uses the same microphones in the stage area to generate early reflections and reverberation, and the same set of Constellation loudspeakers to deliver both early reflections and reverberation.

Overcoming obstacles

The centre presented some specific challenges, namely the folding tribunes, which significantly increase the volume of the room. The stage is also motorised in two sections, allowing a virtually infinite variation in room configurations, which was accommodated by the Constellation stage shell specifically designed to adjust to different stage heights.

Fosnavåg’s Constellation system comprises a D-Mitri digital audio platform hosting the VRAS (variable room acoustic system) algorithm and 34 miniature condenser microphones to sense ambient acoustics. Early reflections and reverberation are delivered by 19 Stella-4C installation loudspeakers, 40 UP-4XP, 20 UPJunior-XP VariO, 30 HMS-10 surround loudspeakers, 10 MM-10XP and two UMS-1XP subs. The loudspeakers are split into two zones to create optimum auditorium acoustics and a virtual orchestral shell around the stage.

Sound reinforcement

Working in conjunction with Constellation is a sound reinforcement system that includes left and right arrays of 11 MINA loudspeakers each and four 1100-LFC low-frequency control elements. Four UPJunior VariO loudspeakers provide fill, and a Galileo speaker management system with one Galileo 616 processor supplies system drive and optimisation.

“We’re using Constellation with great success in our events, from unamplified symphonic concerts, to amplified concerts in combination with the PA system,” says Holum.

The concert hall also offers a 7.1 Meyer Sound cinema system anchored by three Acheron 100 and three Acheron LF screen channel loudspeakers. Using presets in D-Mitri and Galileo, Constellation’s HMS-10 loudspeakers and the reinforcement system’s 1100-LFC loudspeakers are instantly reconfigured to operate in cinema mode. All HMS-10 loudspeakers along the walls serve double duty for the Constellation and cinema systems, a design facilitated by Tom Sæthre of Bright Norway. The sound systems were provided and installed by Lillehammer Installation Branch of Bright Norway. The physical acoustics were designed by Oslo-based Brekke & Strand Akustikk.

The hall also features LED lighting throughout, a Midas PRO3 digital audio mixing console and a grandMA2 ultra-light lighting console, while the cinema uses a Christie CP4220 DLP projector.

In the same complex, a 90-seat movie theatre equipped with Dolby Atmos runs from a Dolby CP850 Atmos cinema processor. The three screen channels are all Meyer Sound Acheron 80s, the LFE is provided by four X-800C high-power cinema subs and two X-400C compact cinema subs handle surround bass management. Immersive audio comes from four HMS-10 and 30 HMS-5 surround speakers, powered by five MPS-488HP power supplies. There is one Galileo 616 to provide equalisation and gain control for the screen channels, and LFE – all the surround processing is handled in the CP850.