08.01.20

Meyer Sound systems highlight 50th anniversary of India’s National Centre for the Performing Arts

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View of the seating and stage at Tata Theatre, National Centre for the Performing Arts in Mumbai, India

The National Centre for the Performing Arts [NCPA] in Mumbai recently celebrated 50 years of presenting an extraordinary array of dance, drama and musical performances by Indian and international artists. To continue providing a quality audio experience and to streamline operating logistics, NCPA recently installed permanent Meyer Sound reinforcement systems in its two principal venues, the Tata Theatre and the Jamshed Bhabha Theatre.

Prior to the recent renovations, the Tata Theatre offered only a minimal vocal system and the Jamshed Bhabha Theatre had no system at all. This was increasingly problematic as a wider diversity of programming coupled with changing public tastes dictated increasing use of amplification.

Nayan Kale, general manager, technical at NCPA, said: “In years past we were required to hire in systems of various brands from different vendors. This was consuming a lot of set-up time and affecting the quality of sound.”

To develop a technical brief for meeting all performance goals, NCPA management engaged London-based consultant Richard Nowell of RNSS to fashion permanent solutions based. After visiting the venues and consulting with Kale and Ashwin Jyoti, chief audio engineer, Nowell crafted a base specification allowing three options from different loudspeaker manufacturers. Based on stated performance specifications, availability of local support and familiarity with similar systems elsewhere, a Meyer Sound solution was chosen for both venues.

The Tata Theatre presented a unique set of challenges. The extreme width and shallow depth, coupled with the unique acoustical features rendered the typical line array solution a poor choice.

“The Tata was originally — and brilliantly — designed for Indian classical music and dance. The design puts the audience 150 degrees around what is effectively a thrust stage. The historical status of the architecture meant we wished the installation to be as unobtrusive as possible. This required a complete rethink of how amplified music might be approached in this space. The look of the system was almost as important as the sound. Mr. Kale went to enormous lengths to provide a new rigging system, and Meyer Sound provided coloured cabinets to match the room whilst the new UP-4slims allowed a front fill solution that was visually unobtrusive.”

The distributed system comprises five evenly spaced clusters, each with a UPQ Family loudspeaker over a UPJ-1P loudspeaker for even front-to-back coverage. Spaced between these clusters, three 900-LFC low-frequency control elements supply ample bass energy. Front fills are five UP-4slim loudspeakers, with system management supplied by a Galileo Galaxy 816 network platform and comprehensive system monitoring enabled via an RMServer. Systems for both theatres were supplied and installed by Image Engineering of Mumbai under the direction of Nainesh Vora.

The greater depth and narrower dimensions of the Jamshed Bhabha Theatre pointed to a line array solution, in this case realised by 10 Leopard loudspeakers per side, with each array flown underneath two 900-LFC low-frequency control elements. Near fills are seven UP-4slims, with pairs of UPQ Family and UPM-1XP loudspeakers positioned back in the auditorium as delays. Also included were a Galaxy 816 processor, an RMServer for monitoring system performance and a pair of UPJ-1P loudspeakers for confidence monitoring in the mixing booth.

Nayan Kale said: “The new systems have definitely reduced set-up time, and they are much safer because of the permanent cabling. Now we have a good level of sound across the seats and greater consistency across different performance types. The Meyer Sound self-powered systems also help save onstage space, which had otherwise looked cluttered with the equipment racks of the hired systems.”

Richard Nowell added: “In both theatres, the systems have outperformed even my expectations and have been incredibly well received by engineers from all music genres.”