Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre in Reykjavik is a keystone element in Iceland’s bid to become a first-tier destination for both business meetings and arts events. Harpa expects to attract increased bookings with its striking architecture and cutting-edge AV systems—notably incorporating more than 160 Meyer Sound self-powered loudspeakers.
Harpa’s crown jewel is the Eldborg hall, a resplendent new home for the Iceland Symphony Orchestra and the Icelandic Opera with a capacity of up to 1,800 seats. Designed by Artec Consultants of New York, the hall features an elaborate system of adaptable physical acoustics, which adjusts hall reverberation using moveable soft goods, overhead canopies, and doors to hidden reverberation chambers.
For amplified concerts, the hall relies on an equally adaptable Meyer Sound reinforcement system. Based on an initial design from Artec’s principal consultant, Geoff Zink, the final system configuration was plotted by Kari Eythorsson of Exton, the Reykjavik-based integrator contracted for all AV, stage lighting, and communication systems.
The system’s main left and right hangs each comprise 10 MICA® line array loudspeakers backed by five 600-HP subwoofers. The centre hang includes eight MICA loudspeakers co-flown from a single frame together with a total of 10 point-source loudspeakers of CQ-1, CQ-2, and UPA-1P arrayed beside, below, and behind the MICA loudspeakers for side-fill, down-fill, and rear choir fill.
Four UPJunior™ VariO™ loudspeakers are assigned to balcony fill, while 14 more UPJunior loudspeakers provide front fill in two sets for standard or extended stage front, and two CQ-2 loudspeakers handle corner fill. Drive is courtesy of a Galileo® loudspeaker management system with three Galileo 616 processors and one Galileo 408 processor. The Eldborg hall system was commissioned by Bob McCarthy of Alignment & Design, Inc. using the SIM® 3 audio analyzer.
“The MICA arrays give us more consistent coverage and power, and it’s rider-friendly for top-rank touring acts,” says Ingvar Jónsson, technical manager at Harpa. “The performance is outstanding, particularly regarding clarity and high-frequency detail. You could argue that what we have is too powerful for the space, but that just means we will never run out of headroom.”
One of the first concerts to use the system was a sold-out evening with Iceland’s own electronic-music superstar, Björk. Other acts slated to use the system later in 2012 include James Taylor, Elvis Costello, and Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull.
Harpa’s three smaller halls also have permanent Meyer Sound reinforcement systems intended for spoken-word reproduction, employing UPA-1P, CQ-1, and UPJ-1P VariO loudspeakers. However, when musical events are staged anywhere in the facility, Harpa is ready with its own extensive inventory of portable sound equipment, anchored by 16 M’elodie® line array loudspeakers and six 600-HP subwoofers. Also available as needed are additional 10 UPJ-1P, six UPJunior, four CQ-2, and MM-4XP self-powered loudspeakers, along with a pair of HD-1 studio monitors. The stage foldback complement includes 14 UM-100P and four MJF-212A stage monitors.
The Harpa complex also boasts the world’s largest installation of Midas digital mixing consoles, with four networked PRO9 desks residing onsite.
The Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre was designed by Henning Larsen Architects of Denmark in cooperation with artist Ólafur Elíasson. It is operated under the auspices of the Icelandic government and the City of Reykjavik.