THE SONIC LABORATORY
The Sonic Laboratory is a unique multi-functional concert hall / research laboratory. It can accommodate an audience of up to 150 and features a 48-channel sound diffusion system.
1.1. The Structure
The lab measures 17m L x 13m W x 14m H. Audiences and researchers enter the lab at ground floor level and walk out onto an acoustically transparent, modular grid floor suspended 4m above the structural floor of the lab located at lower ground floor level. Approximately 7m above the audience area is a technical gantry spanning the perimeter of the lab and nine motorised ceiling panels which can be independently lowered to ground floor level. The ceiling panels are rectangular aluminium box trusses (2m x 1m) from which loudspeakers, stage lights and/or microphones can be suspended.
The lab can be configured for a wide range of acoustic responses e.g. at 1kHz the reverberation time of the space can be made to vary from 0.4 – 2.3 seconds. This is achieved through a series of 48 acoustic absorbers which can be raised or lowered to expose or cover each of the walls. There are two mechanical pulley systems per wall and each pulley controls 6 absorbers. Finally a series of theatre black style curtains span the perimeter of both the technical gantry and the lower ground floor allowing for sections of theses walls to be covered or exposed as required.
1.2. Sound Diffusion
During construction of the Sonic Laboratory, 112 loudspeaker tielines were installed at strategic points in the space - 40 at ground floor level, 20 at lower ground floor level, 16 at gantry level and 4 per ceiling panel. This provides considerable flexibility in the positioning of loudspeakers for a variety of sound diffusion scenarios. Currently there are 48 loudspeakers in use in the lab. The house configuration is arranged as 4 layers of 8 channels plus 6 discrete subwoofer channels. Layer 1 at ground floor level consists of 4 x Genelec 1038Bs and 4 x Genelec 1037Bs in an octophonic configuration plus two ATC SCM50A speakers situated front centre and rear centre. Layer 2 consists of 8 x Meyer UPJ-1Ps also in an octophonic configuration suspended from the technical gantry approximately 5m above the ground floor. Layer 3 consists of 8 x Meyer UPM-1Ps which hang from four of the nine overhead ceiling panels in an octophonic configuration. Layer 4 is a second cluster of 8 x Meyer UPJ-1Ps at lower ground floor level (4m below the grid floor). The lower ground floor level also houses the 6 discrete subwoofers - 4 x Meyer UMS-1P subwoofers located in the four corners and 2 x Genelec 7071A subwoofers located centre left and right. Finally, an additional 8 x Meyer UPM-1Ps are located in the eight corners of the room - four at high level front and and back and four at lower ground floor level front and back.
The loudspeaker system is controlled by a Studer Vista 5 console located in the centre of the lab. The console is fitted with 3 I/O racks - one at the stage, one in the centre of the lab beside the console, and one at the basement level of the lab. The stage rack provides 32 mic/line analogue inputs and 8 analogue outputs; the centre rack provide 40 line analogue inputs and 8 analogue outputs; the basement rack provide 48 analogue outputs to feed each of the speakers. Also attached to the Studer console is an Apple Mac Pro hosting a ProTools HD3 Accel system. Connectivity is via an SSL Delta Link MADI interface for ProTools and an RME HDSPe MADI card.
The stage lighting system for the Lab consists of an ETC Express 125/250 console controlling 24 x ETC Source 4 PAR 750W and 22 x Aurora CYC 1250W Floods. A total of 102 dimmers are available in the Lab - 6 per ceiling panel, 16 at ground floor level, 16 at technical gantry level and 12 at lower ground floor level.