AOTEA CENTRE REFURBISHMENT
AUCKLAND CENTRAL, AUCKLAND
ABOUT THE PROJECT
The Aotea Centre’s ASB Theatre (now renamed the Kiri Te Kanawa Theatre), opened in 1990. A lower than ideal roof kept costs in check but resulted in less-than-ideal natural acoustics. In the early 2010’s the venue was renovated, with everything forward of the proscenium refurbished.
This renovation presented an opportunity to revisit the acoustics. Raising the roof was not considered financially viable, but Meyer’s Constellation system was found to offer the variable acoustics required to enhance the space. Interestingly, a patent for the system, the Variable Room Acoustic System (VRAS) is licensed to Meyer Sound by NZ research powerhouse Callaghan Innovation, where its developer Dr Mark Poletti is now a senior research scientist.
The project was to be completed in two stages, over the Christmas venue shutdown. This tight time frame required careful planning and coordination. The asymmetry of the room and multifaceted walls and ceiling made for a very complicated set-out of the hundreds of speakers and microphones.
Bartons Sound Systems worked in 3D where possible to model the installation details. All cabling was done in house to ensure a very high standard of work and to expedite any design changes required ‘on the fly’. All cabling, microphones, speakers and digital signal processors were installed, and site acceptance tested by Bartons Sound Systems prior to the Meyer commissioning team arriving from the USA and UK.
Rather than acting as an artificial reverberation system, Constellation samples a room in real-time through numerous discreetly placed microphones. By adding several finely-tuned delays to the input, a newly generated soundfield is output through a constellation of Meyer loudspeakers. Constellation mimics real world audio behaviour and seamlessly blends its treated audio with the room’s. The careful placement of microphones and speakers eliminates feedback and phase cancellation.
It sounds simple, but Constellation requires serious grunt. This is provided by high resolution Meyer D-Mitri audio processors, which offer real time networking, simultaneous multichannel processing, and deep customizability.
This system can be configured to simulate any acoustic space, big or small. It’s also capable of complex panning for special effects and cinematic surround sound. Its ideal function, though, is to produce an environment that suits the room and doesn’t distract the audience. All of this blends into the background, remaining unobtrusive and tidy.