Arup’s acoustician Tan Suan Wee drew on his own live sound background when designing the sound reinforcement system for the elegant Concert Hall. Two systems were able to meet the precise specification, which demanded much in terms of scalability, portability, directional control, clarity and musicality, and, of course, budget. For this high-profile concert venue, the choice came down to a NEXO GEO S12 line array design, with RS15 subs, PS8 front-fill cabinets, and power and processing from NXAMPs.
SOTA is located at the gateway toSingapore’s arts and entertainment district. Designed by renowned architects WOHA, the school is unique in combining a high-density inner-city school with a professional performing arts venue. Its diverse prospectus of arts disciplines puts a fantastic variety of musical styles through its premier venue, the Concert Hall; the repertoire extends from baroque and chamber music, choral, full orchestral performances and amplified concerts.
Arup has built great acoustical flexibility into the space – moveable choir stalls that can track forward allow the stage size to be reduced, creating more intimate platform settings; variable acoustic elements in the Hall enable the reverberance to be reduced without losing clarity. “SOTA had very definite ideas about how the facilities of the school should perform,” says Tan Suan Wee. “The acoustic challenge is to accommodate such a wide repertoire, and we needed to design and specify a sound reinforcement solution that was itself versatile and complementary to the acoustics of the Concert Hall.”
Arup has taken a scalable system approach by implementing modular sub-systems. In the Concert Hall, the NEXO GEO S12 loudspeakers are installed in a L/C/R configuration. Left and right hangs carry 4x GEO S1210 with a GEO S1230 downfill; they can be rigged onto the loudspeaker hoist on demand, or de-rigged, to serve in another part of the SOTA campus. A centre cluster of 3x GEO 1230s side-by-side can be interfaced with the L/R rig, or used standalone, when the production calls for a clean (no speakers on show) aesthetic in the Concert Hall.
“With the central cluster flown above the acoustic canopy, this is a good solution for voice-only or subtly-amplified solo instruments, while minimizing the visual footprint of the system,” says Suan Wee. “The NEXO GEO S12 cabinets offer good directional control, handling speech as well as amplified music. From an acoustic perspective, we can achieve excellent clarity in a highly reverberant space.”
As importantly for SOTA, the scalable design of GEO allows it to be taken apart and moved around quite easily. “The amplifiers for the left and right arrays, subwoofers and fills are housed in touring flightcases, so they can be relocated easily and on their return, re-patched easily to form the full system. There is the full complement of rigging accessories from NEXO so the GEO cabinets can be used outdoors for a concert, or in other venues as required.”
Suan Wee confirms that the Concert Hall is available to external rental users. “This also helps SOTA’s revenue stream, as outside productions will look for a rider-friendly amplified system.”
4x GEO S1210 each side
1x GEO S1230 each side
3x GEO S1230 centre cluster
2x PS10 centre cluster out-rigs
4x RS15 sub bass
2x GEO S1230 stalls fill
5x PS8 front fill, integrated into stage lip
2x PS8 choir stalls
NXAMPs 4×1 and 4×4
SOTA’s system was supplied through Yamaha Music (Asia), NEXO’s distributor inSingapore, where Lawrence Tan of the PA/CA Marketing Group has overseen the project.
“We’ve had very good support from Yamaha,” says Suan Wee, “they’ve provided a very strong service, timely delivery and excellent planning. They’ve been backed up by the NEXO factory, with Nicolas Kirsch and Scott Mason dedicated to the SOTA project. The factory did its own modelling of our original design, a case of due diligence by a manufacturer that is quite rare! It’s good that both parties reached the same conclusions.
“SOTA has already hosted the Singapore Arts Festival, which saw the system being used for different musical styles and both the venue staff and ourselves are very satisfied with the outcome. The project has particular requirements in terms of the sound reinforcement system and, in this situation, I believe it’s the most appropriate tool for the application.
“From a technical point-of-view, the system design has to cater for professional users but there is an equal focus on the learning process of the students themselves, who will be stepping through the different venues and their varying technical specifications, and they can learn a great deal from the design philosophy of the NEXO system.”