Quietness, Comfortable Sound and Excellent Acoustics NAGATA ACOUSTICS

News 07-06 (No.234)

Issued : June 25, 2007

[ Japanese Version ]

Structure Honoring Dr. Teiyu Amano Opens at Dokkyo U., Saitama Pref.

by Ayako Hakozaki

"The 'Do' of Dokkyo University is the 'Deu' of Deutsch ("German")" reads a poster from a German Fair held at the Dokkyo University. The poster alludes to the fact that Dokkyo University was founded by Dokkyo Gakuen (Dokkyo Educational Foundation) in 1964, 80 years after the establishment of Dokkyo Gakuen. Dokkyo Gakuen's origin was Doitsu-gaku Kyokai (German Association) formed in 1881 by a number of leading Japanese dignitaries who aimed to adopt the teaching of German political theory and philosophy, as well as German pedagogic methods. In 2004, the university celebrated its 40th anniversary. To commemorate this milestone event, the school planned the construction of the Dokkyo University Amano Teiyu Hall, which includes a library, foreign language education research center and information center in its west wing, and classrooms, seminar rooms, an auditorium and a museum gallery on the history of the university in its east wing. This spring, Dokkyo University Amano Teiyu Hall opened for use.

Dr. Teiyu Amano may be best known as a former Japanese Minister of Education, a post he assumed in 1950, during the third cabinet of Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida. Dr. Amano was also a noted Kant scholar and the founder of Dokkyo University.

The Dokkyo University campus is a five-minute walk from the Tobu Isesaki Train Line's Matsubara Danchi Station. (The word "danchi" means "housing project" in Japanese.) Some 45 years ago, the land around this station was newly occupied by a public housing project named the Kodan Soka Matsubara Danchi, then said to be the largest such multi-dwelling, multi-building project in all of Asia.

In a prior era, during Japan's Edo Period, Soka was a lodging stop along the Nikko Kaido, one of the nation's 5 main roads, all of which led to the Edo capital (now Tokyo). Soka was the second lodging stop along the Nikko Kaido and was famous for its "Matsu"(pine-tree) lined portion of the Nikko Kaido at the northern end of the lodging. Pine trees also dot the Dokkyo University campus, giving the new memorial building green surroundings all year long.

<< Overview of the Facility >>

Conceptually, the five-story, 180 m (591 ft) long. Dokkyo University Amano Teiyu Hall has the "Library Zone" of the west wing and the "Classroom Zone" of the east wing, with the "International Communication Zone" of the central domed atrium joining the two wings together. The library spans four of the west wing's five floors and, in addition to having open stacks with space for some 400,000 volumes, the fourth floor has an automated book storage and retrieval system. The first floor of the east wing contains the Dokkyo historical gallery and the entrance to the building's 500 seat auditorium is on the third floor of this wing.

NTT Facilities designed the architectural plans and provided construction management services for the memorial building project. Nagata Acoustics served as the acoustical consultant for the large auditorium and the International Communication Zone's second floor multimedia atelier studio area, including both room acoustical and sound isolation design and noise control.

<< The Large Auditorium >>

Large Auditorium
Large Auditorium

The large auditorium has a fan-shaped configuration. Wood finishes on the lower portions of the auditorium walls add calm coloring that balance well with the white upper portions of the walls and the ceiling and the turquoise upholstery of the seating that give the hall a bright appearance. As the main auditorium of Dokkyo University, the hall's primary function will be as a venue for events that primarily require excellent acoustics for speech, such as lectures, seminars and school ceremonies. In addition to designing the acoustics for this key purpose, our room acoustical design also includes elements that enable the auditorium to be used for live, non-amplified concert performances.

To ensure that sound reflections reach the center sections of the audience seating, we applied special treatments to the upper portions of the walls that fan outward from each side of the stage. Specifically, instead of being flat surfaces, these walls are shaped like accordion folds with shallow eaves along them. In addition, in order to make it possible to vary the auditorium's reverberation time, we designed the wall folds of the upper wall portions to open and shut in door-like fashion, and we installed retractable curtains along the lower portions of the rear wall so that they can be used to further adjust the reverberation characteristic. On the upper sidewalls, behind the wall sections that open and close, we installed a layer of sound-absorbing glass wool and we also affixed glass wool to the rear side of the wall sections that open and close. When these wall sections are in their open position, the exposed glass wool provides double the sound-absorbing surface area of these walls sections. The auditorium's variable reverberation time measures 1.1-1.3 seconds (at mid-range, unoccupied).

Because the large auditorium is located in the Classroom Zone, achieving effective sound isolation performance was also a focus of our design work, and we adopted the use of sound isolation gypsum board partition walls with a sound transmission loss rating of TLD60. In addition, to isolate the auditorium's sound from classrooms on the floor directly below the hall, we designed a glass-wool floating sub-floor under both the stage and the flat-floored audience area near the stage. As a result, we achieved sound isolation performance for up to 60 dB (at mid-range).

<< Multimedia Atelier Studio Area >>

Multimedia Atelier Studio
Multimedia Atelier Studio

Recording studio
Recording studio

The university's emphasis on foreign language education is clearly evidenced in the equipment installed in the building's centrally-located International Communication Zone. The university outfitted the multimedia atelier studio, sound mixing room, recording studio and editing room with a panoply of equipment for the creation and editing of multimedia foreign language materials. For two of these rooms, the multimedia atelier studio and the recording studio, we installed floating sound isolation structure with glass-wool floating sub-floors, providing a high performance level of sound isolation between each of these rooms and other nearby rooms and facilities.

This year, Dokkyo University joined with the local Soka City community to announce the joint vision statement that "together we will strive to build a prosperous town." Surely, the new Dokkyo University Amano Teiyu Hall will become a vibrant center of student activity on the university campus, and I hope that it will also play a role in supporting regional vitality.

Dokkyo University Amano Teiyu Hall webpage is http://www.dokkyo.ac.jp/40kinenkan/index.htm.

The Telex Academy Asia Pacific Event and China's New Dalian Theater

by Masaya Uchida

For the two days of May 24 and 25, I had the opportunity to attend the pro-audio manufacturer group Telex EVI's Telex Academy Asia Pacific 2007 in Dalian, China. In this article, I will review both the event and the new Dalian Grand Theater, the event venue.

<< Telex Academy Asia Pacific 2007 >>

A scene from the presentation
A scene from the presentation

Telex Academy Asia Pacific is an event produced by Telex EVI pro-audio group to showcase the group's brands to customers in the Asia Pacific region. Brands under the Telex EVI umbrella include Electro-Voice (products: speakers, amplifiers and microphones), Midas (mixing consoles), RTS (intercom systems), Dynacord (speakers, amplifiers and signal processors) and Klark Teknik (signal processors). The event enables participants to see all of the group's products in one place, including all of the brands' new technologies and products and to hear about the companies' marketing strategies for the year. This year marked the annual event's 11th year.

Dalian City's new Grand Theater, opened just last year, installed Telex EVI Group products exclusively, and this was a key reason that the group selected it as the venue for this year's Asia Pacific Academy. The 300 attendees came from China, Korea, India and other countries in the region, including 30 participants from Japan. Telex EVI Group rented the entire Dalian Grand Theater for the 2-day Academy, produced a lavish, professional stage setup and brought in its brands' major products, all clear indications of the importance the group gives to the Chinese and other Asian markets.

After introducing each brand's products and innovations, the presentation explained the group's marketing strategy, focusing on the group's ability to offer total system solutions. The presentations emphasized that these total system solutions go beyond mere comprehensive collections of products because the several brands' processing networks can all be linked together into a single networked system.

Telex EVI is not alone in pursuing a total system, networked strategy. Some other sound system manufacturers have also already set up alliances with proprietary networking technologies in order to market integrated, total sound system solutions, and there is a good chance that this trend will continue. The functional benefits of this approach are large, but this trend also results in limitations on the sound system designer's ability to select individual products. From my perspective as a designer of many public hall sound systems, my preference would be for a universally accepted transmission standard to be devised, along the lines of the DMX data transmission standard established for lighting equipment, so that equipment and products can be freely selected and combined regardless of manufacturer or brand.

On a separate note, during the product presentations, Telex EVI's presenters wore headset microphones that moved with them as they would turn to look at the projection screen on stage or down at their laptops, always staying the same distance from the speaker's lips. I have noticed that at European and U.S. symposia this style of microphone has gained in popularity, but it has not yet caught on in Japan. The headset microphone is an absolutely better device for consistently capturing speech than the clip-on style of microphone used in Japan and usually attached to a suit lapel. The headset microphone's use should be proactively encouraged in Japan.

<< Dalian Culture Center and its Dalian Grand Theater >>

Outside of Dalian Grand Theater
Outside of Dalian Grand Theater

Inside of the theater seen from on stage
Inside of the theater seen from on stage

Inside of the theater viewed from the 3rd floor balcony
Inside of the theater viewed from
the 3rd floor balcony

Dalian Culture Center, part of the Dalian Economic and Technical Development Zone, is located about 40 minutes by car from the center of Dalian City. The Culture Center comprises a large and small theater, a library and conference facilities with an expansive plaza in the middle. The culture center completed construction in January of last year, but apparently has not yet celebrated an official opening. Canadian architect Arthur Erickson, well known for his design of Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto, served as the master architect for the culture center. The acoustical consultant and other details do not currently seem to be available in a brochure or via the Internet.

Dalian Grand Theater, the venue of Telex Academy Asia Pacific, is an opera house with a four-sided stage and an orchestra pit. In addition to main, first-floor seating, the hall has two tiers of balconies in a circular configuration. The hall seats 1,260 persons. LED displays at the left and right sides of the proscenium attracted my attention. Their purpose is apparently to enable subtitles to accompany performances. I did not see an orchestra shell.

The opera house's sidewalls appear to be made of drywall finished with wood veneer and the ceiling also looked to me to be of drywall material. All levels of the opera house's audience seating use the same kind of flooring, and only the aisles of the first-floor seating are carpeted.

The rear walls behind the audience seating are made of wood openwork. On the first floor, the openwork is backed with fixed, sound-absorbing material and on the second and third floors (first and second balconies), the rear walls are fitted with double-layered, horizontally pleated folding curtains that can be raised and lowered to adjust the hall's reverberation characteristic.

During the Telex EVI Academy presentations, the second-floor and third-floor rear wall curtains remained fully lowered. The event used sound amplification and, under these conditions, the Grand Theater's acoustics exhibited adequate and natural reverberation. I had hoped to have the opportunity to hear the sound system installed in the opera house, but this was not part of the program, so I will look forward to fulfilling this desire on a future visit to Dalian.

Symposium on "Entertainment Industry Worker Safety"

by Nobuhiko Hattori

At rock concerts and other large-scale entertainment events, trusses are often erected at the top of the stage and used to suspend lighting and sound system equipment. The quantity and weight of the suspended equipment can be considerable. For example, line array loudspeakers, which are recently gaining in popularity, can weigh as much as one ton for a single array. For theatrical performances, there may not be trusses, but the people on stage (both performers and stagehands) frequently must contend with on-stage risers and overhead batons, as well as flamboyant dramatic effects using real fire or performers suspended by wires attached to the batons.

The preparation, performance and take down activities on stage that involve equipment and special effects paraphernalia can truly be"big productions" in every sense of the term and carrying out on-stage work involves many situations that create a risk of accident and injury. The incidence of accidents that result in damage to pieces of equipment and venue facilities and/or to performers and backstage workers is not insignificant. Some of these accidents can result in fatalities and can force an event to be cancelled or stopped in the middle of the performance.

<< The Japan Association of the Safety Staging Technology Symposium >>

With this current state of the entertainment industry as its backdrop, the Japan Association of the Safety Staging Technology convened a symposium on the topic of performers' and stage professionals' safety during performances and while on the job at an event. The symposium was given the title: "Entertainment Industry Worker Safety: Where is the Industry Today and Where Is It Headed?"

The symposium was held on April 13 at the National Olympics Memorial Youth Center in Tokyo's Yoyogi Park. Compared with the relaxing warmth and scent of spring I felt in the park outside the Memorial Youth Center, the discussion and topic of our attention inside the room of the symposium was markedly serious. Below, I will share a synopsis of some of the facts and issues the symposium highlighted.

<< Lack of Experience and Low Awareness Increase the Risk of Accidents >>

The symposium used a panel discussion format in which the panelists, primarily stage directors, concert tour managers, plus other industry professionals presented examples of accidents and safety issues they have seen or otherwise know have occurred on stage. For example, one topic the panelists discussed is the high frequency of accidents involving the use of stepladders. Stepladder-related accidents typically happen for one of two reasons. Either one person uses a stepladder without having a colleague assist by holding it stable, or the person setting up the stepladder does not securely fasten the hook used to lock the stepladder in a fixed position.

In particular, the panelists noted that inexperienced, younger personnel are the most prone to a lack of awareness of safety measures, while veteran workers were commended for their attention to making sure that they work safely. The panelists concurred that, overall, the industry has low safety awareness and, also, that there are wide disparities in the level of safety awareness within the industry.

<< The Role of Time Constraints in Increasing the Risk of Accidents >>

Many of the panelists also spoke compellingly about how short time frames allotted to event setup and deconstruction contribute to the high rate of accidents. Because of the short durations, many people must perform their tasks at the same time, with various instructions and communications being shared by shouting across the event site. Individuals may not hear a communication or may perform a task hastily, both of which situations increase the likelihood of accidents.

The directors on the panel presented their opinion on the issue of time constraints. Their perspective is that of the person responsible for overall coordination of performers and operational staff at an event. They pointed out the importance of allocating adequate time for coordination meetings before the start of events. I strongly agreed that the agendas for event preparation meetings need to include not only an overview of the artistic or commercial intent and objectives of the event, but also detailed consideration and working through of any potentially dangerous tasks that must be performed and the safety strategies to mitigate the risk of accidents.

<< Increasing Safety Awareness, an Essential First Step >>

One suggestion proposed at the symposium is to bring event-related personnel, including operational staff, performers and venue managers together in proactive joint seminars that will spread a high level of safety awareness across all parties. When the symposium ended, this and several other suggestions were the main takeaways for future action. I had hoped that the symposium would also identify specific issues or desired improvements in the equipment or features of halls and stages, but the panelists' discussions and suggestions focused only on remedying the low level of safety awareness on the part of the event entertainment industry.

At building construction sites, many tasks involve the risk of accidents, for example, working on a scaffold at high place and delivering construction materials by a crane. I thought of how building construction sites also demand both safety on the job and speedy completion of tasks, and that rigorous attention to safety management measures is the norm in the construction industry. This comparison made me realize that strong safety awareness among event industry professionals is truly a necessary first step towards improving on-the-job safety in the event entertainment industry.

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[ Japanese Version ]