Case Study: Singapore Chinese Orchestra, Singapore

SCO digital image. use

Hurrairah bin Sohail talks to EAS about the AV upgrade at the Singapore Conference Hall, a project that was a finalist for the 2019 Inavation Awards in the Leisure & Entertainment Facility category.

Completed in 1965, the Singapore Conference Hall has housed multiple international conferences and exhibitions over the years. In 2001, Singapore’s late founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew reopened the venue to be the home of the Singapore Chinese Orchestra.

The Singapore Conference Hall also holds the honour of becoming the first structure built in Singapore’s post-colonial period to be gazetted as a national monument, achieving this milestone in 2010.

Acviron Acoustics was appointed as the AV consultant for the project while ElectroAcoustics Systems [EAS] served as the integrator. Design, supply, delivery, installation, testing and commissioning of the audio, video and lighting systems all fell under the remit of EAS.

Lam Tze Tze, executive director at EAS, talks about the initial conversations regarding the project: “Our goal was to deliver variable reverberation time to optimise the acoustics of the Singapore Conference Hall and to cater to the different music genres, such as orchestral performances, live events and presentations, that are hosted at the venue. We were also tasked with improving the video quality and upgrading the video system from 2K to 4K readiness.”

Lam continues: “The client gave full priority to the audio component of the project and was uncompromising with regards to the loudspeaker placement, to ensure optimal sound quality. This is understandable since the Singapore Conference Hall is home to the nation’s Singapore Chinese Orchestra.”

This particular Meyer Sound Constellation system is one of the largest installations of its kind in Southeast Asia, comprising of 26 units of UP-4XP dual 4-in and 39 MM-4XP single 4-in models, 12 dual 10-in UMS-1XPSM subwoofers and 44 Stella-4C ceiling speakers which are installed on the stage wall for the benefit of the orchestra.

Other Constellation units include 12 UPJunior-XP point source cabinets installed along with 19 overhead UPM-1XP dual 5-in models and four UMS- 1XPSM on-stage speakers. These complete the stage zone.

A carefully distributed network of 35 condenser microphones installed above the stage and seating areas continuously senses and feeds ambient physical acoustic information.

In the back of house, audio input is managed by a DCM-4 digital core matrix via two D-Mitri DAI-24 input modules before outputting to three DCP core processors. Four racked D-Mitri VRAS modules containing stored SSD measurement data and audio files are added to provide dedicated input channels and processing information for the zones they serve. Two network switches are included for full redundancy while six DAO-24 modules transmit the audio signals from the core to the speaker system.

EAS also integrated 16 MPS488HP external power supplies together with two Galaxy 816 modules for full DSP control for the main front of house line array system. CueStation software is utilised to remotely monitor and control the D-Mitri mixing and routing parameters. With the inclusion of two Galaxy 816 processors, the front of house reinforcement system can function separately or concurrently with Constellation.

The front of house system incorporates 14 units per side of Meyer Mica line array loudspeakers, coupled with three Meyer 1100-LFC 18-in subwoofers at stage centre with large format, point source, wide coverage provided by a single Meyer UPQ-1P unit. In addition, Meyer UP Junior-XP units are deployed for side-fills.

Sennheiser’s range of Digital 9000 and Digital 6000 wireless microphones with a combination of wireless handheld and bodypack transmitters were selected for uncompressed digital audio transmission. A total of 16 channels from each of the digital range were installed with Dante connectivity and a wide selection of microphone capsules ranging from Sennheiser and Neumann were employed.

To ensure individuals needing auditory assistance are not compromised, a Williams Sound MOD 232-02 two-channel infrared modulator is connected to WIR TX9-02 infrared emitters and RX22-4N receivers, providing enhanced assistive listening capabilities.

Jackie Tay, assistant director (concert production) at Singapore Chinese Orchestra, says: “Quality was the main consideration when it came to audio and it guided all decisions from the design process to the deployment phase. Adjusting the architectural acoustic properties to enhance and control early reflections and optimising reverberation while preserving the hall’s acoustics with key ingredients to deliver a high quality sonic experience, with warmth and resonance, was our goal. Meyer Sound Constellation system was selected because it fit the bill.”

Regarding the selection of speakers, Terence Ho, executive director at Singapore Chinese Orchestra, says: “The adoption of Constellation allows the client to adapt to different genres and uses without having to rebuild the hall specifically for orchestral acoustics. The musicians can now rehearse in their own familiar acoustic environment for their performances.”

Installing the speakers was not straight forward and Lam discusses one of the unique aspects of the project: “The Singapore Conference Hall is a heritage site. Many meetings with various parties ensued including the preservation society to ensure that any proposed developments would observe regulations in place to protect the integrity of the building.”

Video at the Singapore Conference Hall is handled by an Analog Way Ascender 16-4K multi-output 4K switcher with dual scaled layers that provide video switching to a 20,000 lumens HD projector which casts visuals on an 8m x 4.5m TabTensioned motorised projection screen manufactured by Stewart Filmscreen.

In addition, two portable Christie D12HD-H HD projectors provide video display to the side stage. A Vertige VRC300 control console provides user interface for video source selection and seamless switching to all the displays.

Transmission of 4K resolution was achieved using HDBaseT technology and Cat6 STP cables with HDBaseT transmitter and receiver pairs being used to carry to signal to each of the displays. Regarding the video system, Lam says: “As with all international performing arts centres and theatres, ease of operation was the main consideration as the control console is used for live events. We provided seamless input switching with multiple input plugs for a range of ports comprising HDMI, DisplayPort, DVI-I, Universal Analog and HD-SDI along with similar output providing flexibility configurations.”

To conclude, Lam talks about the challenges EAS faced: “Despite the challenging timeframe, we are proud to have participated in the upgrade and installation of a world-known system into the iconic Singapore Conference Hall. The on-time and successful completion of this project would not have been possible without great team work, project management and the professionalism of all team members on board.”