MONCTON, NEW BRUNSWICK: With the installation of a new Meyer Sound system at Moncton NB’s Capitol Theatre, the near century-old local landmark now has a state-of-the-art PA that suits the venue’s multi-purpose mandate better than ever before.
Installed in early 2020, the system includes nine Meyer Sound LINA line array elements per side, four 900-LFC subwoofers, four ULTRA-X40 point-source units for under-balcony fill, and two GALAXY-816 loudspeaker processors.
Located on Main Street in Moncton, the 800-seat venue first opened in the 1920s as a vaudeville house. Initially, the facility contained two theatres; the Empress and the Capitol. After a fire destroyed the Empress and gutted the Capitol in 1926, the facility was rebuilt. Although the Capitol functioned solely as a movie theatre from the 1960s to the late 1980s, since being purchased by the City of Moncton in the early-90s and restored to its original glory, it’s become a beloved local hub for all forms of entertainment. Many organizations and varying types of acts make up the theatre’s playbill; from theatrical and musical performances, to programs presented by Symphony New Brunswick and the Atlantic Ballet Theatre of Canada, to concerts by the likes of Leonard Cohen, The Irish Rovers, Serena Ryder, and many others.
The current project has been in the works for several years, says Dany Legendre, GerrAudio Distribution’s Quebec and Atlantic Canada sales representative, and involved the complete replacement of the Capitol’s previous audio system. “It’s a beautiful space,” Legendre says, “but their old system wasn’t ideal aesthetically or sonically, so it was time for a change.”
To assist with the design and install of the new system, the Capitol engaged the services of Pascal Dubé, founder of maritime integration/installation company, StageCrew, who began by ascertaining the venue’s needs byutilizing Meyer’s Mapp XP audio prediction software, and ultimately settled on a design that depended heavily on the LINA line array components; the latest addition to Meyer Sound’s industry-leading LEO family of loudspeakers, and the most compact loudspeaker in the line.
While the first consideration informing the choice of the Meyer system was sound quality, aesthetic considerations were also integral to the decision. Beyond LINA’s compact footprint and power-to-size ratio, the success Meyer has had with camouflaging speakers in applications that have similar aesthetic requirements also played a role. In this case, the colour required was virtually identical to what was used for a Meyer system deployed for Cirque du Soleil’s Corteo show, which, Legendre explains: “also featured some of the same types of design elements the Capitol has.”
The result is a powerful and visually unobtrusive system that dramatically improves coverage and sound quality across all seats in The Capitol. As an example, Dubé points to the fact that, previously, the under-balcony area was underserved: “we installed four of the new ULTRA-X40 point-source units for under balcony coverage; two per side, with each pair configured to provide left/right feeds. So, even if you’re sitting in the very last seats in the house, you still get a lovely, full-ranged stereo image.”
The LINA’s compact footprint, innovative concentric-driver configuration, and on-board power also provided substantial benefits – both in terms of the install itself and use of the venue long term.
“We had determined the desired loudspeaker placements in order to optimize the sound dispersion,” notes Dubé, “but because the theatre is almost 100 years old and there’s a lot of plaster, installing the loudspeaker grids and fill brackets took some time and required a high degree of finesse to minimize the visual impact of the loudspeakers.” “Beyond that,” he adds, “there was no room to install a motor to hang the main PA from, so we had to lift every box into place by hand, one at a time, from a scissor lift. Thankfully, the LINA boxes are light and the fact that they are self-powered made the cable runs to their local power sources quick and easy. “
Another obstacle that had to be overcome was the fact that a portion of the stairs on either side of the stage had to be dismantled to place the 900-LFC subs – owing to visual considerations and because the central part of the stage was already inhabited by an elevator for the orchestra pit.
And, of course, this being 2020 – the year that just keeps on giving – the COVID-19 pandemic added another layer of complexity by derailing Legendre’s plans to go to Moncton to help with the system tuning.
Instead, Legendre and Meyer Sound’s David Vincent worked remotely to aid in determining the ideal layout of the system and when it came time, to tune it. “We did the original design with the MAPP XT, but when MAPP 3D (a free application and Meyer’s latest iteration of their powerful sound system design/prediction tool) became available after the sale, we decided to import the 2D design in order to leverage a few of the new capabilities that MAPP 3D offers,” Legendre says. “We then were able to remotely export the system configuration and all loudspeaker settings from the MAPP 3D software directly into the two GALAXY processors located at The Capitol. Once they were loaded into the venue’s GALAXY 816s, I’d say we were about 85-percent of the way there.”
“The design is very particular,” Legendre continues. “So, to maximize coverage: “We used a new technique available in the GALAXY called low-mid beam control (LMBC) - an enhancement to GALAXY’s existing precision toolset. With LMBC enabled, it was possible to steer the low/mid frequencies to cover the entire floor and balcony area, and, with the two GALAXY 816s, they were able to assign dedicated GALAXY outputs to each box."
“It was nice having the 100% backing of GerrAudio on this project,” Dubé concludes, “Dany and his team are fantastic to work with.”
“Pascal is a great local resource for New Brunswick and neighbouring maritime provinces,” Legendre comments. His industry knowledge and willingness to collaborate with everyone involved contributed to the success of this project and we look forward to partnering with StageCrew again on future installations.”
Ultimately, this highly flexible system will allow the Capitol to serve the multi-purpose mandate it has since its 1993 reopening more effectively than ever – offering local, national, and international shows in a truly spectacular setting – with truly spectacular sound.
Written by: Kevin Young