Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Park
Monday, 2 July 2001
Amsterdam’s Museum Square provided the ideal setting for an audition of Meyer Sound’s new M3D system. Mike Mann reports.

The audition in question was a classical concert by the Royal Concert Orchestra of a range of classical music - the first performance of its kind to be streamed live on the Internet in The Netherlands.

The Meyer System came courtesy of Hof Audio - The Netherlands’ biggest Meyer Sound user, and owner Bart Hof regards himself as being part of a team - which means that he’s not afraid to voice criticisms. "I’m a true Meyer fan," he explained, "which means that while I can be extremely critical, I can also understand where the product concepts are coming from." The decision to purchase an M3D line array system was, he added, based on a need for a system that would cope with outdoor events: "I knew that we needed a bigger system than the MSL-4. We provided the audio for last year’s Museum Square concert using a system based on MSL-6, DS-2 and MSL-5 (Meyer’s long-throw systems) but we ended up using cranes to fly nearly four tonnes of equipment per side!" The new M3D rig (eight self-powered cabinets per side, complete with their own flying/stacking gear) weighed in at less than half this figure, allowing simpler (and much more elegant) truss towers to be built.

The concert venue is one of the largest formal parks in Amsterdam; and with a distance of 250 metres between the stage and the Rijksmuseum at the far end of the square, Hof had to be certain the system would have sufficient throw. "The idea behind conventional Meyer designs is that they are ‘point source’ - each cabinet has to throw the entire distance on its own, and we only add boxes to increase the angles of coverage. With other systems, where arrays are built to add power, the result is less even. With a line array, we knew that the high frequencies would be clearly audible at this distance - and that we could use the same system components to cover the whole area."

The system was split into two sectors on each side; since line arrays work differently in the near and far fields, it was important to be able to deal with each zone individually. "In the far field, all the HF outputs couple smoothly, whereas in the nearfield they are not supposed to couple at all," Hof explained. "This means that the SPL calculations are not simple - in theory, the level drops off by 3dB per doubling of distance, but in fact, the coupling effect changes this and means that we have to adjust the far field EQ separately from the near field."

The entire system was driven through a pair of XTA DP226 processors, which are used for EQ and level adjustment (the M3D cabinets are all treated as full-range). A SIM II measurement system was inserted into the drive chain, and kept an eye on the system response during rehearsals and the show itself. Finally, Meyer’s RMS data system allowed system engineers to se the parameters of every driver and power amp in the system - even down to heatsink temperatures and fan speeds. "The tools that we have to adjust and monitor the system are a big advantage - for once we can see, as well as hear, what we are doing," said Hof.

Low-end response was a major consideration - especially with many open microphones on the orchestral stage. "The low-frequency steering that the M3D uses is impressive - especially for this kind of concert," reported Hof. "We have so much headroom before we get any trouble with feedback or colouration - it’s great."

Unusually, the Royal Concert Orchestra (Koninklijk Concertgebouworkest) is accustomed to playing outdoors and requires no foldback. The acoustics of the transparent tensioned tent (provided by StageCo) were sufficiently good to allow musicians to hear themselves - though Hof did provide the conductor’s podium with a simple foldback and reverse talkback system. Other speakers included single UPA-1P and 2Ps per side for front fills, and small MSL-4 delays - neither of which were really ne

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