HARMAN’s JBL CBT Series Loudspeakers Solve Sonic Challenges at Michael Fowler Centre Auditorium

NORTHRIDGE, California – The 2,210-seat Michael Fowler Centre Auditorium in New Zealand is a jewel of a concert hall, with a distinctive 3-level glass façade and interior detailing of native timbers and Italian marble. The 2-level, oval-shaped auditorium’s acoustics are ideal for classical music concerts, and the venue is also used for events, meetings, tradeshows and other functions.

“The originally installed sound system consisted of many small loudspeakers, the coverage wasn’t uniform, and the frequency response varied depending on where you were sitting, among other problems,” noted Sam Johnston, Operations Manager of AV company Multi-Media Systems Ltd. of New Zealand.

Working with Matt Chapman and Marcus Wilson of Jands New Zealand (HARMAN’s local distributor), Johnston and Matt Hoyle of Multi-Media Systems ultimately chose JBL CBT Constant Beamwidth Technology™ column loudspeakers in an unusual configuration--a single CBT 70J speaker with a CBT 70JE extension enclosure, complemented by two CBT50LA speakers on either side, with each aimed 90 degrees to the left and right. The entire cluster is flown from the ceiling of the auditorium.

“We didn’t need a large-scale sound reinforcement system to deliver rock concert levels--we were more concerned with getting even coverage and maximum clarity and speech intelligibility, for pre-show announcements and general public address,” stated Johnston. “What we did need was very good pattern control and consistent coverage both closer and farther away from the speakers. We chose the JBL CBT models because they are specifically designed to provide even frequency coverage regardless of the distance from the speakers, without the drop off in high-frequency response and level that you hear from other column designs.”

Arriving at the final speaker configuration took some trial and error. “At first, we set up a single CBT 70J with the 70JE extension about 10 feet from the front of the stage and about 25 feet above the stage floor,” Johnston said. “From the front row to the back wall, we achieved highly intelligible speech and full-range music reproduction, with no noticeable level variation over most of the seats.”

However, the seats at the side of the stage and overlooking the stage were not adequately covered, and the seats around the downstairs walls did not receive enough high-frequency response. The team of Multi-Media Systems and Jands NZ then tested a configuration using two CBT 50LA speakers, one on either side of the single, main CBT 70J/70 JE column, to cover the seats beside the stage. “The CBT 50LA speakers can be set to provide midrange and high frequencies only, which avoided having too much bass energy being played into the room,” Johnston said. “Ultimately, the JBL CBT Series speakers proved to be the ideal solution for the Michael Fowler Centre Auditorium. They delivered the coverage, clarity and sound pressure level we needed, and the small number of speakers required enabled us to install them in a way that didn’t intrude with the aesthetics of the Auditorium, while also saving on the cost of the installation.”

HARMAN (www.harman.com) designs, manufactures and markets a wide range of audio and infotainment solutions for the automotive, consumer and professional markets – supported by 15 leading brands including AKG®, Harman Kardon®, Infinity®, JBL®, Lexicon® and Mark Levinson®. The Company is admired by audiophiles across multiple generations and supports leading professional entertainers and the venues where they perform. More than 20 million automobiles on the road today are equipped with HARMAN audio and infotainment systems. HARMAN has a workforce of about 12,000 people across the Americas, Europe and Asia, and reported sales of $3.8 billion for the twelve months ending June 30, 2011. The Company’s shares are traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol NYSE:HAR.
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