Fire And Water

Fire And Water

The Mirage Reignites Its Volcano Attraction With Explosive Sound

LAS VEGAS, NV—In 1989, when the strip was merely a busy thoroughfare connecting various properties, the Mirage hotel and casino caused people to stop in their tracks with a new an innovative concept—and outdoor attraction. Provoking much curiosity along the way, the Mirage constructed a sizable volcano in front of its lobby and began to rattle the strip with timed eruptions of dazzling light and sound. The Vegas landscape has changed since those times, and the Mirage has once again placed itself firmly in the new age of extreme spectacle with the reigniting of its volcano last December.The outdoor lighting, fire, and sound spectacle was conceptualized by WET Design, which worked with Acoustic Dimensions and Technology West on the design and

The reignited volcano features 25 Meyer Sound MILO line array speakers (inset) clustered in stacks of two, three, or four boxes strategically placed throughout the lagoon.
implementation of a Meyer Sound system.

“When we started this project five years ago, we decided it was not going to have an organic soundtrack like the last one,” explained Jim Doyle, director of WET Design. “It was going to be a piece that bridged the centuries at the same time could musically stand on its own.” WET subsequently approached the Greatful Dead’s Mickey Hart, who brought along with him the design firm’s other top composer/musician choice, Zakir Hussain, to create a sixmovement composition.

Transporting the immersive qualities of the Meyer Sound system recently installed in the Mirage’s new LOVE Theater to the outdoor volcano attraction was the work of Audio Dimensions. The resulting sound design relies on multiple point sources to engage listeners on either side of the volcano’s lagoon in front of the hotel. It features a total of 25 MILO line array loudspeakers, clustered in small stacks of two, three, or four boxes strategically placed throughout the lagoon.

The loudspeakers are custompainted green to blend with the foliage, and largely hidden behind false rock façades that provide camouflage and weather protection. Each stack also has itsown dedicated 700-HP subwoofer, along with several others on the island. A Matrix3 audio show control system allows the image of the music to be manipulated over 180 degrees. Signal processing is handled by a Galileo loudspeaker management system.

“The music travels over a large reflective pool of water, which requires a fair amount of power,” noted Brad Cornish of Las Vegas’ Technology West Group. “That water is being blasted by jets of flame. Between that and the natural desert heat, we’ve essentially created a microclimate, giving us an exceptionally high level of humidity to pass sound through. It calls for a lot of power and some rather unique and meticulous system tuning.” Under the water, the signal runs over fiber in PVC pipes to avoid potential interference from the adjacent gas jets and circuitry.

Collaboration among the sound and visual designers, along with Meyer Sound, made this project an unquestionable success for WET Design. “It was a breeze working with everybody on this project,” Doyle said. “I can honestly say this is the best outdoor sound system I’ve ever heard.”

Kirsten Nelson is a freelance content producer who translates the expertise and passion of technologists into the vernacular of an audience curious about their creations. Nelson has written about audio and video technology in all its permutations for almost 20 years; she was the editor of SCN for 17 years. Her experience in the commercial AV and acoustics design and integration market has also led her to develop presentation programs and events for AVIXA and SCN, deliver keynote speeches, and moderate and participate in panel discussions. In addition to technology, she also writes about motorcycles—she is a MotoGP super fan.