AV Case Study: Cairns Convention Centre
Cairns Convention Centre has enjoyed a $176m investment, including a sizeable Meyer Sound upgrade. We hear from the centre’s AV Director, Chris Targett and lead audio operator, Gary Fleming, about the new capabilities.
Text:/ Christopher Holder
Cairns Convention Centre has made a big investment (A$176m) in the upgrade of its building and facilities, including a magnificent new function space with some of the best views you’re likely to experience in an exhibition centre anywhere.
The audio got its fair share of love too — a big upgrade, with brand-new Meyer Sound loudspeaker systems and processing.
That’s all noteworthy, but the human story is Gary Fleming — Gary and his affection for Meyer Sound PAs: “I was involved in the original deployment of the M1D system.”
For those of you without encyclopaedic memories of early line array systems, M1D was the sub-compact sibling of Meyer Sound’s original 188kg M3D line source system. Released in 2002, the M1D was based on two five-inch drivers and three HF units in an active 14kg enclosure.
So when it came time to select a new loudspeaker system for the Cairns Convention Centre, it’s not to say that other vendors weren’t in with a sporting chance (in fact, the tender process was very robust) but Meyer Sound certainly had the inside running with a Leopard-based design.
Gary Fleming is Cairns Convention Centre’s senior audio operator and is a well-known and highly-regarded audio guru in the area. He’s been instantly impressed by the upgrade:
“The M1D was a great system but the tonal quality of Leopard is next level. Just the evenness of Leopard across the entire space has really blown me away. The clarity and tightness of the 900-LFC subs is also just really, really nice. We’re not getting so much of that boom we used to get from the 700-HPs.
“Being a convention centre, spoken word is important and the headroom in the lapel microphones and lecterns is just sensational. The punch we’re getting out of bands is also a real eye-opener. We’ve already hosted a few gala dinner bands – seven- or nine-piece bands — and we’re getting a full sound without being overbearing in any way. That’s exactly what we want. We want people eating, drinking, enjoying themselves and a good conversation while others can be on the dancefloor having a good time. We can do that without anyone complaining about the level being too high or too low.”
The Great Hall with some of the Meyer Sound Leopard inventory in action. In all, 36 x Leopard and 8 x 900-LFC subs form a conspicuous part of Cairns Convention Centre’s new audio capabilities.
Meyer Sound New PA Spec
Mains: 36 x Leopard
Subs: 8 x 900-LFC
Front Fill: 8 x ULTRA-X40
Balcony fill & Other Fill: 4 ULTRA-X42
Processing: 5 x Galileo Galaxy 816
Flown: 9 x ULTRA-X40
Front Fill: 2 x ULTRA-X40
Subs: 4 x 900-LFC
Processing: 1 x Galileo Galaxy 816
MAPP plots modelling the three main PA modes for the convention centre’s Great Hall, including Concert mode (with ground-stacked subs and side hangs), Hall mode and Quadrant mode for when the auditorium is being used as exhibition space.
Selecting a Meyer Sound system isn’t all about brand loyalty. Meyer Sound’s long-time commitment to building active loudspeaker systems makes a lot of sense for an exhibition and events centre that accommodates a long laundry list of different room formats. With the amps on board, it’s comparatively easy to redeploy. In fact, there are 24 preset configurations. Audio Visual & Innovation Director, Chris Targett explains:
“The auditorium is a highly customisable space with a lot of options available to our clients. Which means flexibility from an audio deployment point of view is critical in that space. The audio presets address how we cover the four quadrants of the auditorium, and seating arrangements — flat floor, retractable etc.
“Our audio team has the pin plot on the Leopard PA hang, they fly the system, then hit the preset on an iPad, and the system is perfectly calibrated for the application. This gives us enormous freedom and it’s something we do throughout the week, every week. We can turn the room around really quickly and as soon as the PA fires up, it’s on the money — we’re ready to go.”
But once deployed, the audio team isn’t locked into that preset configuration if there’s a change of plan, as Gary Fleming explains:
“Each Leopard is individually addressed by the Galileo Galaxy processor and it’s easy to tweak the standard configurations if we need to. If the client decides they want to change the way the floorplan looks, I can do that in 10 minutes. We’re not locked in.”
Some of the Meyer Sound ULTRA-X40 loudspeaker inventory in action in the Cairns Convention Centre’s spectacular Trinity Room. The new Trinity Room has provided a sizeable new premium meeting and ballroom space.
HOLY TRINITY ROOM!
The Trinity Room is the latest jewel in the Cairns Convention Centre crown. A new-build extension, the Trinity Room offers stunning views over the Trinity Inlet, combining a 500-cap banqueting space and generous foyer.
Nine Meyer Sound ULTRA-X40 full-range active loudspeakers are installed into the Trinity Room, with Fredon taking care of the integration.
Chris Targett: “It’s a spectacular room but there are big expanses of floor-to-ceiling glazing — great for the views but terrible for audio. But I think we were all pleasantly surprised with how well the system works in that space.”
Gary Fleming: “The coverage of the ULTRA-X40 is very even and controlled. We don’t need to run the system hard but you still achieve great coverage no matter where you’re sitting. You wouldn’t know we had all the glass in that space, the clarity is exceptional.”
We can turn the room around really quickly and as soon as the PA fires up, it’s on the money — we’re ready to go
BREAKING WITH CONVENTION
AVD is used to route audio from the Galileo Galaxy processors to the loudspeakers — ensuring sample-accurate precision. Otherwise, Dante is used to bus audio to/fro the mixing consoles (Midas M32s in the main), wireless microphone receivers etc. A Q-SYS Core oversees all the other audio DSP and housekeeping, with Crestron powering the iPad control. There were some discussions regarding basing the whole install on AVB but the final consensus was there wasn’t a need to route a lectern mic in the auditorium to a single ULTRA-X40 in the Trinity Room, for example — the level of granular control was probably overkill, in other words.
That said, given the complement of Galileo Galaxy processors, Cairns Convention Centre has all it needs to offer immersive audio. It’s a tantalising prospect, but deadlines and a full events calendar haven’t provided time to experiment… just yet.
“When we first sat in on the Meyer Sound online training, Spacemap Go was discussed,” recalls Gary Fleming. “If you ask me, it’s a game changer for what we can do in the venue. So far we’ve not had the time to tinker with the possibilities — we really had to hit the ground running with the system and events. Hopefully, towards the end of year we’ll start experimenting. My first thought is to try our hand at immersive audio for one of our themed dinners. I could imagine surrounding guests with rainforest sounds and ambience, for example, as the enter the room. The old M1D system can easily come out of storage when we want to have crack at using Spacemap Go… it’s an exciting and creative prospect.”