Technology West Group

Mirage Volcano

Delivering the ultimate experience…

Among the myriad spectacular sights and sounds that populate the Las Vegas Strip, the Mirage Volcano stands tall with arguably the world’s largest and most breathtaking fire show. The Mirage has recently completed a multimillion-dollar renovation of The Volcano that promises an even more astonishing and memorable experience for the spectators, with state-of-the-art pyrotechnics and innovative audio design supported by a Meyer Sound MILO line array loudspeaker system.

The new Volcano holds forth with a high-impact original score by renowned percussionists Mickey Hart and Zakir Hussain, highlighted by Fire Shooters in the waters surrounding the island choreographed to move with the music. Through the rhythmic beats of percussion instruments from around the world, Hart and Hussain have enlivened the eruption of The Volcano.

The project was a new venture for Mickey Hart, who immersed himself in the legends and myths of the natural phenomenon before creating the audio track. “You wake up one morning and are given the task to birth a full-blown volcano,” says Mickey Hart. “You need the most powerful and dependable sound reinforcement equipment on the planet. There is only once choice – Meyer Sound. From a whisper to a volcanic fury, the Meyer Sound system packs a sonic punch that brings The Volcano to life. The results, a true union of senses, will rattle your bones, just like a real volcano.

According to The Mirage, audio quality was also its prime consideration in selecting a sound system for its Strip-front icon. “When it came time to choosing a sound system for our new Volcano, we looked immediately to Meyer Sound,” says Scott Sibella, president and COO of The Mirage. “We have a Meyer Sound system in our LOVE Theater, and after hearing the quality firsthand, we knew without a doubt Meyer Sound could deliver the depth needed for our dynamic, percussion-driven Volcano soundtrack.”

Overseeing The Mirage Volcano project was Sun Valley, California based design firm WET, working with Acoustic Dimensions and systems installer Technology West Group. The project is a breakthrough in themed entertainment on all fronts, including its nontraditional audio design concept.

“In most sound designs, we’re working with a stationary audience, and we surround them with loudspeakers. In this case, the audience surrounds the speakers and they move around freely,” says Ryan Knox of Acoustic Dimensions.

As onlookers can view The Volcano from areas on either side of the water, in front of the hotel or from The Strip – the resulting system uses multiple point sources. 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 custom-painted green to blend with the foliage, and primarily hidden behind fake rock facades that provide camouflage and weather protection. Each stack also has a dedicated 700-HP subwoofer, along with several others on the island, while UPQ-1P loudspeakers serve as side fills for some of the distributed MILO arrays to widen their coverage when needed. A Matrix3 Audio Show Control System allows the image of the music to be manipulated over 180 degrees. A Galileo loudspeaker management system handles signal processing.

“The music travels over a large reflective pool of water, which required a fair amount of power,” says Brad Cornish of 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.

“When we involved Mickey in this project, it added a new dimension,” says Jim Doyle, WET’s director of technical resources and a major visionary in the project. “The soundtrack went from an organic volcano to something wonderful and the sound system had to match it. No other speaker sounds like a Meyer-sharper attacks, better voice imaging, sharp transients, crystal clear, even at very high levels and the show would not be the same without them”

Brad Cornish adds: “Mickey’s perspective is that the Meyer system is one of his instruments, and he rightfully stood up for it. The loudspeakers are well suited to the high dynamic range of the music, particularly the low end. The Meyer subs are a very amazing feature of this project.”

The Mirage Volcano officially reopened on December 8, 2008, and all those involved point to a highly successful collaboration and a truly innovative result. Acoustic Dimensions’ Knox sums it up: “We were attempting something that hasn’t been done before on this scale, and there were a lot of unknowns. Projects like these keep us involved and excited to be in this industry.”