Meyer Sound Constellation Redefines the Possible at Sun Valley’s Argyros Performing Arts Center
Located in Ketchum, the principal city of Idaho’s Sun Valley resort area, The Argyros Performing Arts Center presents a broad spectrum of performances in its 462-capacity theatre, ranging from dance, film, lectures and comedy to drama and concerts by local and touring classical, jazz, blues and pop/rock musicians. To provide the optimum acoustic environment and transparent amplification for all events, The Argyros has installed a Meyer Sound Constellation acoustic system together with a direct reinforcement system based around LINA compact line array loudspeakers.
“The Argyros has been hugely successful and a game-changer for the arts in our community,” says Tim Mott, vice president of the governing organization’s Board and a tireless advocate for the new venue since its inception. “People just rave about the theatre, and the acoustics in particular. Constellation ensures the best environment for all artistry, everything from the Sun Valley Music Festival Orchestra to Branford Marsalis, Robert Cray and the chanting of Tibetan monks.”
A retired Silicon Valley entrepreneur, Mott volunteered for the role of project coordination on behalf of the Board in early 2016. As soon as the basic structural dimensions of the theatre were determined, he flew to San Francisco to huddle with the noted theatre and AV consulting firm Auerbach Pollock Friedlander. When outlining anticipated programming to the consultant’s team — Principal Len Auerbach, Project Manager Howard Glickman and Theatrical AV Systems Designer Ben Strange — Mott emphasized the need to accommodate a range of performances without compromising the aural experience for any. The discussions quickly focused on an active acoustics solution.
“Once we agreed that was the direction to go, there was general consensus that Meyer Sound Constellation would be the preferred choice among the available options,” recalls Strange. “In the end, it’s amazing how much we were able to pack into this relatively small footprint. The flexibility Constellation affords is truly remarkable.”
Adaptable to events of all kinds, The Argyros theatre has raked tribune seating that can be retracted to open a flat floor. Three staging options are available, and an expansive tension grid allows open-ended choices for soft goods and set pieces. To accommodate these changes acoustically, Constellation has base presets for the various room configurations, which are then augmented with the desired acoustic settings for the performance genre of the day.
The base Constellation system comprises 58 full-range compact loudspeakers (MM-4XP and UP-4XP) along with 16 MM-10XP miniature subwoofers. An additional 12 loudspeakers (HMS-10 and HMS-5) serve a dual role for Constellation as well as for surrounds in cinema mode. At the heart of the system are the 12 modules of the D-Mitri digital audio platform, including three modules dedicated to hosting the patented VRAS acoustical algorithms — one for each of the three acoustical zones. Twenty-four miniature cardioid microphones, on retractable or motorized reels, are deployed for sensing of the ambient acoustic environment.
Dual hangs of nine-each LINA line array loudspeakers anchor the direct reinforcement system, with UPQ-1P and UPA-1P handling, respectively, the upper center and lower center coverage. Fill loudspeakers for side galleries and alternate staging are UP-4XP and UPJunior-XP loudspeakers, with abundant deep bass supplied by dual cardioid arrays of three-each 750-LFC low frequency control elements. Two Galileo GALAXY 816 network platforms provide drive and optimization while two RMServers facilitate comprehensive remote monitoring.
Oklahoma City-based Ford Audio-Video was selected as the supplier and integrator, with Ford’s Jim Tassey coordinating on site with the team from Auerbach Pollock Friedlander.
Upon completion, day-to-day operations were entrusted to Samuel Mollner, technical director for the center. For Mollner, Constellation’s array of acoustic possibilities has been a revelatory experience.
“Constellation has changed the way I think about audio,” he relates, “because we can adapt the acoustical environment to suit the performer. For example, we had a group in here doing 12th century Gregorian chants, and we could create the environment for which the chants were composed. For the Sun Valley Music Festival last winter we had six different acoustic environments in one evening, including a contemporary piece originally composed to be performed inside a concrete grain silo. We programmed a special Constellation preset for that one.”
Mollner is similarly impressed with the capabilities of the direct reinforcement system. “Since we’ve opened, I think a visiting engineer has changed our base tuning on the LINA arrays only once. Most are blown away by the LINAs. They do exactly what you expect them to do, and do it very well.”
After serving six months as interim executive director, Tim Mott turned over the reins of management to his son, Casey Mott, in May of 2019. The younger Mott was grateful to inherit a venue with cutting edge technology that places Sun Valley at the forefront of excellence in performing arts.
“Constellation definitely distinguishes us from other venues of this size,” he says. “Our first priority is delivering the best experience for the audience, but for me a close second is to make sure the artists also have an enriching experience, so the two can create a positive feedback loop. Constellation and the LINA reinforcement system give us powerful tools for doing just that.”
Named for founding benefactors Julia and George Argyros, the 25,000 square-foot Argyros Performing Arts Center also houses a 49-seat studio space, a café and an outdoor plaza. Longtime area resident Peter Cetera was featured at the opening gala, while visiting artists have included Keb Mo, Rick Miller in BOOM, Time for Three, and the San Francisco Ballet’s Stars of Tomorrow. Three Dog Night is scheduled for the New Year’s Eve celebrations.
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