Meeting held November 17, 2003
PNW Section Committee Member Rick Chinn opened the meeting by welcoming approximately 60 AES members and guests to the Marion Oliver McCaw Hall for the November meeting.
He introduced Richard Erwin. Richard is the Sound Crew Chief at the Seattle Center, which includes the Key Arena sports complex (home of the Seattle Supersonics), the Seattle Center House, the Mercer Arts Arena, and the newly remodeled Marion Oliver McCaw Hall (home of the Seattle Opera and the Pacific Northwest Ballet).
Richard began his presentation by reviewing the history of the building that has recently been remodeled and renamed the Marion Oliver McCaw Hall.
Originally constructed in 1929, it was called the Civic Auditorium and was the home of the Seattle Symphony. In 1959, construction began to remodel the aging building for the 1962 World's Fair in Seattle. It was renamed the Opera House, with seating for about 3100 people. It was designed with a three-channel sound system (left/center/right) that was the first of its kind according to the 1959 project acoustician, Paul Veneklausen.
In 1999, plans were drawn up and bonds approved by Seattle voters to rebuild the Opera House. The nearby Arena was remodeled and became the Mercer Arts Arena so it could serve as the interim home for the Seattle Opera and Pacific Northwest Ballet during the reconstruction of the Opera House.
About 40% of the original structure was reused in the remodeling, which helped to reduce costs. However, the changes in the visible structure are dramatic. It has a larger, better-equipped backstage area, more intimate seating arrangement, and a more spacious lobby to improve the theatrical experience for both artists and audience. Architects were LMN Architects of Seattle.
A Nomad computer-controlled rigging system was installed to facilitate changing the scenery and sets. A variable acoustic system was originally specified for the main auditorium, but had to be postponed in order to meet the budget. It is anticipated that motorized curtains can be installed in 2004 to adjust the acoustics in the auditorium. The auditorium currently has a measured RT60 of 2.4 seconds. The measured NC (noise criteria) noise level of the HVAC system is just NC=17. Jaffe-Holden Acoustics was the acoustical consultant.
About $1.5 million was budgeted for the sound system to meet the needs of the opera, ballet, and auxiliary events. (The entire remodeling project's budget was $140 million). A Yamaha PM1D Digital Audio Mixing System with two control surfaces acts as both the FOH and Monitor mixer. One control surface works onstage for opera and ballet events to provide music monitoring for the performers, and one works as a FOH mixer for musical performances. The PM1D is configured for 48 inputs and 32 outputs. A 56-channel active splitter routes signals for recording or broadcast purposes.
Other equipment used includes a dbx DriveRack processor, BSS Sound Web processor (8x8) integrated with a Crestron control system, Crown Macro-Tech amplifiers with PIP cards, a Clear-Com wireless system, and a Sennheiser IR Assisted Listening system. A Shure VP88 stereo microphone suspended above the stage feeds a Yamaha 01V Digital Mixer, providing eight program feeds to various parts of the building for monitoring cues.
The new sound system still uses the L/C/R design, with side speakers installed to steer the image. Each of the L/C/R speakers is comprised of custom JBL clusters consisting of a long-throw horn and a short throw horn aimed at 45 degree angles from each other, for a total of six separate systems.
The meeting concluded with a tour backstage to view the equipment rooms and the concealed speaker clusters.
Reported by David Franzwa
Last modified 2/2/2004.