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Clair Brothers Brings A New Sound to Philly’s Historic Met

Victoria Wasylak • Supplier Scene • February 12, 2020

Courtesy of LiveNation

The Metropolitan Opera, aka “The Met,” in Philadelphia, started a massive renovation project to bring The Met back to its former glory in 2017. The goal was to keep the original interior and exterior design style of the building intact. The Met in Philly is a recent project by Live Nation, which operates many properties in the area, including the famous Fillmore, for which Clair Brothers was called on to provide a sound system in 2015.

Josh Sadd, chief engineer at Clair Brothers, describes the historic nature of older rooms such as the Met like this: “A lot of these rooms were made before sound reinforcement, and naturally the acoustics of a room like the Met are going to be excellent. Just in the realm of musicality, having a natural room is a great thing. Interestingly, the Met is a bit different in that it is not exclusively a music hall, club type venue. At its heart, it’s really a theater. The Met is unique in this way.”

The Met’s original acoustics were designed for non-amplified performances. Fortunately, the renovation teams made several smart acoustical decisions, such as hanging curtains to cover the side walls from front to back on all levels. They also treated the large open areas in ceiling areas with an acoustical treatment which provides a rich natural sound. Since the venue was originally non-amplified, the room itself retains its natural opera and amphitheater aesthetics. Says Sadd, “Add a great PA, and you’ve got a room with wonderful sound.”

The Met’s main PA is now the Clair Brothers stereo C12 line array with sixteen cabinets per side; eight iS218 double 18-inch subs flown per side; and eight CS218 double 18-inch subs beneath the stage. For sound reinforcement, Clair Brothers FF2 front fills, as well as, kiTCurve12 front fills are aimed underneath the balcony to the left and right sides of the stage near the front. Remaking the Met into a modern music venue for amplified music required dealing with balconies and box elements where the architecture has a tendency to obscure the clarity of sound in areas. Several time-delayed speakers were installed to fill out the frequency range under the balconies, on walls behind columns and inside the box seat areas. In the back of the room on the first level, where the intermediate Loge level balcony is situated, a series of kiTCurve12 under balcony speakers were installed in addition to sixteen P8s distributed around the balconies and box seats as fill speakers. On the Mezzanine level, there are three separate arrays of three kiTCurve12s as over-balcony delays. All speakers were very carefully time-aligned and equalized to provide seamless coverage and extra clarity throughout the entire room.

Upon installation and just prior to the Met’s grand opening, everyone involved, including Jim Devenney, senior systems designer at Clair Solutions, the project’s installation company, walked the room from the front row to the last.

“In fact,” describes Sadd, “one of the guys from Live Nation told me that the best sound in the room was in the last seat. So, I checked it out and was impressed with how intimate, natural and clear the sound was. It pulls you in like you’re right there. You don’t feel far away at all!”

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