Project News Headlines
TMB’s Solaris Flare IP Illuminates Landmark Vulcan Statue in Alabama
USA – The largest cast iron statue in the world shines brightly over Birmingham, Alabama, thanks to lighting design by Schuler Shook and lighting design revisions, control system design, and programming by Marc Brickman and Tactical Manoeuvre, Inc. It’s been said that the essence of every picture is the frame. Likewise, the essence of the 56-foot Vulcan statue overlooking the city is the 124-foot pedestal on which it stands, highlighted and enhanced with 14 Solaris Flare IP HR dual-head outdoor fixtures.
Lighting for the project was provided by 4Wall Nashville. “The Flare IPs have an incredible amount of firepower and are killer bright,” says 4Wall account executive, Damon Herbert. “We used the dual-head version of the Flare IP outdoor lights, with narrow eight-degree lenses for maximum throw.”
Damon adds: “At night, the statue can be seen for miles and Tactical Manoeuvre’s programming is exquisite. Over two years in development, the clients are extremely happy with the results. Flares make us look good.”
Schuler Shook worked with the Kiwanis Club of Birmingham to develop concepts for re-energising Vulcan’s presence over Birmingham through a dynamic use of light. The statue’s inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places led the team to design fixture mounting locations concealed around the base of the pedestal and on tall poles strategically placed around the park.
Tactical Manoeuvre (TactMan) was brought on to the Vulcan project toward the end of the design and construction process. After viewing the proposals for programming services from several other companies, Wayne Gillis of the Birmingham Kiwanis Club saw a video of a light-to-music show at the Empire State Building. He knew that was the kind of show needed for Vulcan and the people of Birmingham.
Elisha Griego of TactMan explains: “Upon receiving Wayne’s call, Marc Brickman and the team got to work. We made some adjustments to the original lighting design to leverage newly available options, including the addition of 14 dual-head Flare IP fixtures to supplement the previously specified fixtures. With a 124-foot tall base and a 56-foot statue on top of that, we needed serious firepower to get enough light from ground-mounted fixtures to give Vulcan a major presence on the Birmingham skyline, and the Flares were the perfect fit. The Flares also had the correct lensing for the job, and TMB worked with us and the general contractor to create custom glare shields.”
Elisha adds: “TactMan also introduced an innovative, first-of-its-kind proprietary scheduler. Operated from an off-the-shelf iPad, the scheduler allows Vulcan Park staff to schedule lighting events without knowing a thing about lighting programming. These control systems serve as the basis for TactMan’s proprietary audio sync app, soon allowing viewers to hear the audio for a light show latency-free, anywhere they have a line of site to the Vulcan statue.”
Key personnel with Tactical Manoeuvre, Inc. include Marc Brickman, Elisha Griego, Tom Huston, Dietrich Juengling, Lindsay Scoggins, and Ian Shelanskey.
The general contractor was Brasfield & Gorrie, one of the nation’s largest privately held construction firms, headquartered in Birmingham. Schuler Shook of Chicago was the project’s lighting designer. Continued funding is from donations by the Kiwanis Club of Birmingham. TMB is the exclusive distributor for Flare IP fixtures.
29th May 2020
013 Poppodium Upgrades Venue-Wide Adamson Systems
The Netherlans – 013 is one of the largest and most frequented pop music venues in the southern Netherlands, hosting a slew of international touring acts and popular festivals every year. Now, thanks to its newly-expanded, venue-wide live audio systems from Adamson Systems Engineering, it’s also one of the best-sounding.
Located in the city of Tilburg in the southern province of North Brabant, 013 Poppodium comprises the 3,000-capacity Main Stage and 700-capacity NEXT Stage.
Following a substantial overhaul in 2015, both spaces boasted custom audio reinforcement solutions from Adamson Systems Engineering, sourced via the company’s exclusive Dutch distributor, Audio Acoustics. More recently, however, 013 augmented its Main Hall system with new components from Adamson’s flagship E-Series and sub-compact S-Series for a more consistent and impactful performance to benefit patrons and visiting productions alike.
“We feel Adamson has one of the best-sounding systems, if not the best-sounding system out there right now,” begins Erik-Jan Dodd, lead sound engineer at 013, about the decision to re-invest in Adamson. “A lot of major artists have the E-Series on their riders these days, and for the last three years, every band that has visited 013 has used our system, even if they were carrying their own. Engineers trust Adamson, and if they’ve been here before, they know we’ve got a great-sounding PA system perfectly tuned to our room.”
Prior to the most recent upgrades, the Main Stage system included left-right arrays of nine Adamson E15 three-way, true line source enclosures per side along with a single row of E219 subwoofers lining the front of the stage. Boxes from Adamson’s SpekTrix series were originally deployed as underhangs for the main arrays as well as frontfills; however, the venue’s technical team felt they needed a more substantial solution for the ever-critical space right in front of the stage. By that point, the complementary E12 three-way, full-range enclosure was widely available, which would bring more power and a more consistent voicing to the busy venue.
013’s Main Stage system now includes underhangs of two E12s beneath each main array and four sub-compact S10 two-way, full-range enclosures from the tour-proven S-Series as front fills, offering a perfectly-uniform sound image and high-impact coverage throughout the entire space. Rounding out the system are a single P12 from Adamson’s Point Series per side as outfills and four PC8s as lipfills.
As for the existing NEXT Stage system, it features main arrays of eight S10s and a single P12 frontfill per side, along with four E219 subs loaded beneath the stage to anchor the low end. The foyers for both performance spaces are also outfitted with distributed Point Series systems.
“Working with the teams at Adamson and Audio Acoustics, we’ve done everything possible to ensure great sound in both of our rooms, and the support throughout the entire process has been amazing,” Dodd acknowledges in closing. “They’ve helped us get the most out of our venue-wide systems every step of the way. Now, nothing is standing in the way of an unparalleled musical experience at 013.”
photo: Perijn Klein Tuente
29th May 2020
LPD and Elation support tradition of excellence at Irkutsk Academic Drama Theatre
Russia – Russia's rich cultural tradition extends far outside of Moscow and St. Petersburg and across this immense country. Despite its relative solitude in Russia’s vast Siberian region, the city of Irkutsk is a thriving seat of culture that embodies all the best of Russia’s storied theatre tradition.
Irkutsk boasts an impressive number of theatres and Irkutsk Academic Drama Theatre of N.P. Okhlopkov, the oldest theatre in Eastern Siberia and the cultural hub of the region, epitomises that artistic vitality. Founded in 1850 and currently celebrating 170 years as a cultural institution, the theatre recently worked with Light Power Design (LPD) to upgrade its stage lighting to a state-of-the-art automated lighting system from Elation Professional with lighting control consoles from Obsidian Control Systems.
Irkutsk Academic Drama Theatre has a tradition of high technical excellence and the theatre nurtures a new generation of theatregoers by constantly searching for a more modern means of communication with its audience. To that end, the possibilities inherent in visuals that are more dynamic were essential and provided the impetus for LPD to undertake a full modernisation of the theatre’s lighting system.
Established in 1986, LPD focuses on sales and installation of professional lighting and sound equipment and has served as Elation’s Russian distributor for several years, enjoying exclusive distributorship since 2019. The company completed a full lighting and control design for the drama theatre encompassing nearly 200 Elation lighting fixtures – nearly all of them LED – with control from innovative Obsidian Control Systems lighting consoles.
“We are always looking for modern, high quality and innovative products and technologies and therefore our decision to invest in Elation wasn’t accidental,” commented Mikhail Morozov, managing director at LPD. “The management of the theatre was looking for a very modern solution based on LED technology and at the same time fixtures with a perfect colour mixing system and very silent.” It was also important, he adds, that the fixtures were very reliable and backed by a warranty. “Elation’s five-year warranty on the LED engine is a big benefit, especially because the main product specified for this installation was the Artiste Picasso as an LED-based workhorse fixture.”
Elation’s award-winning Artiste series of theatrical-grade LED moving heads makes up a key component of the new lighting system. Used as a key light as well as an effects fixture are some 74 Artiste Picasso. “The Picasso is the main fixture in the rig, used for everything and from everywhere,” says Morozov of the 23,000-lumen LED framing profile. “And thanks to its perfect colour mixing, gobos and animation wheel there are no limitations!”
With the venue being used for more than just traditional plays – concerts, musicals and theatre festivals, for example – and many of the performances filmed, on-camera flicker was an issue that was taken into consideration. “Flickering can be a problem when LED fixtures and high-speed cameras work together but the Picasso has a variable refresh rate that can be set at whatever level is needed to eliminate that,” Morozov said. “We were also happy to see that when set at higher refresh rates the dimming and colour weren’t influenced negatively.”
A half dozen Artiste Monet luminaires, a 45,000-lumen LED profile with innovative SpectraColor colour mixing system, move around the rig depending on the performance, used mostly as colourful keylighting but also for effects. “Thanks to its framing system with unlimited indexing and continuous rotation it can be installed anywhere and used as just a profile fixture for some scenes. With the advanced SpectraColor colour mixing and CTO there are no limits in creativity,” states Morozov. SpectraColor is unique in that it combines CMY colour mixing with RGB flags and variable CTO. Particularly valued by designers as it produces colour combinations that have traditionally been hard for LED luminaires to achieve, it has been singled out as exceptional innovation by several industry award bodies.
The new lighting system is comprehensive and also includes Platinum Seven and Platinum 1200 LED wash moving heads installed above the stage with Chorus Line 16 pixel bar wash luminaires moving locations depending on the performance. Fuze Par Z175 fixtures with RGBW COB LED engine and classic lens look of a traditional Fresnel provide colour wash from both sides of the stage while Colour 5 Profiles, a high-quality ellipsoidal spot with RGBAM LED engine and CRI over 94, work from both sides of the stage and balconies. Multi-functional Smarty Hybrid CMY colour mixing moving heads, the only non-LED lighting fixture in the rig yet with highly efficient 6,000-hour lamp, and SixPar 300 Par lights, round out the lighting package.
When time came to consider lighting control, the venue stayed in-house, choosing a pair of Obsidian Control Systems consoles, a full-scale Obsidian M6 and a compact yet fully integrated Obsidian NX 2. With what is arguably the broadest line of entertainment lighting fixtures on the market, with a line of professional controllers and atmospheric effects besides, Elation makes it easy for venues to fulfil their needs as a one-stop shop. “I think it’s important to mention that one of the reasons they went with Elation was the ease in dealing with one supplier,” Morozov says. “ It made sense to look at Obsidian for the control solution. They are professional quality and at the same time easy to use. They are powerful consoles but also very budget friendly and were a good fit for the theatre.”
Today, Academic Drama Theatre is one of Russia's best in terms of technical equipment and stands as the first professional drama theatre in the country to be fully equipped with LED lighting from a single brand. Morozov sums up: “We are confident of our future success since the quality and technologies of Elation products can easily compete with any well-known manufacturer of lighting equipment and in many cases exceed them.”
28th May 2020
Düsseldorf Schauspielhaus Expands Optocore/Broaman Network
Germany – The Düsseldorf Schauspielhaus theatre has extended its long relationship with Optocore, in order to keep pace with evolving technology. In the case of such a formidable, multi-space complex as this, an agile digital infrastructure, with multiple routing options and interconnectivity, is essential. To maintain this, the theatre has upgraded the original Optocore analogue network, installed in 2011, to an advanced and future-proof system.
The latest integration, undertaken by Amptown System Company GmbH (ASC), was overseen by the Theatre’s tonmeister (and deputy head of sound), Torben Kärst, who designed the audio system, working alongside head of department, Peer Seuken, and video specialist, Tim Deckers. This has seen the installation of Optocore M-series MADI boxes in both the 800-seat main theatre and 350-seat studio theatre, with an Optocore AutoRouter installed in the latter. “The installation was about achieving increased routing options, better sound quality, an increased channel count and greater flexibility,” stated Kärst.
All locations in the main building of this three-building complex (including foyer, rehearsal stage and recording studio) are now connected by MADI.
“In terms of transmission it was mandatory to keep system latency as low as possible,” Torben Kärst continued. “This is where Optocore is absolutely the market leader. Reliability and small form factor of the devices, enabling large decentralised systems to be built, are further reasons why Optocore was the choice for us.”
From the original proposal for a stand-alone Optocore system for the smaller studio theatre came the possibility of exchanging audio signals between both the larger and smaller theatres. “The biggest leap forward was when we decided to centralise our entire wireless system,” states Kärst, explaining the process. “Since then, we have been able to send audio signals across the whole building.” Crucially, this third house loop, complementing the Optocore/DiGiCo loops in both the large and small venues, proved to be a much simpler but more powerful version of the original design.
The integration now features an Optocore AutoRouter, multiple MADI devices, connected to the DiGiCo system and Optocore’s new sample rate converter. “It is the centre point of the house loop,” Kärst confirms. “With this device, we distribute our 56 radio mics and feed the 16 IEM devices. It’s also the clock master of the whole audio system.”
Another major leap forward has been the installation of an Optocore AutoRouter in the smaller theatre. “With AutoRouter there is no need for patch cables to close a loop, as this is now done automatically. Each connection point on stage is connected to the AutoRouter as well as the permanent devices as a loop and our DiGiCo console. Connecting the console separately, and not as part of the permanent loop, provides us the possibility to power off the console and check the optical status of the system using the Optocore control software. So we are able the see the RX and TX power of each transceiver in the system, which makes troubleshooting much easier.”
At the same time, the theatre’s tech team had kept abreast of developments with Optocore partner company, BroaMan. As a result, three BroaMan Repeat48 devices have now been deployed for video distribution. It was Torben Kärst’s task to ensure full integration and interconnection between audio and video.
Summing up the value of this upgrade, he is unequivocal. “For the small venue, we now have an increased channel count with fixed installed connection points spread all over the hall. This includes mic/line inputs, line outputs, loudspeaker outputs, video I/O as well as sufficient Cat7 and fibre ports, and that creates an awful lot of flexibility.”
And the by-product of these efficiencies is faster change-over and set-up procedures, in turn enabling longer time for rehearsal, much to the delight of incoming production crews.
26th May 2020
Martin Audio WPM Successfully Deployed at Minnesota’s Celebration Church
USA – DP Design of Milwaukee recently designed a sound system based on a Martin Audio Wavefront Precision Mini (WPM) line array system for the Celebration Church in Lakeville, MN.
Describing the project, DP’s David Price explains: “The church was built in the early 90s and they’ve been slowly upgrading for the first time since then. Now they’ve added a new PA, console and wireless, which is a big first step for them.”
According to David: “Celebration is a very contemporary church with a large area including a stage built to be more of a theatrical performance venue that holds about 850 people. The basic shape is square that eventually curves out into a fan-shaped auditorium space.
“They wanted concert-level sound so we installed Martin Audio WPM based on its minimal impact on sightlines and its exceptional audio performance for mid-sized concerts, something they often do there. There are eight WPM boxes a side powered by Martin Audio iK81 amps with one-box resolution for maximum coverage throughout the audience area along with four SX118 subs built into the stage.
“Celebration has contemporary worship music with electric bands and several vocalists for its services,” David continues, “but they also wanted the system to be authentic for speech so we ended up installing one Martin Audio XD15 per side for outfills flown outside of the arrays because of the room’s width and fan shape. And we added a CDD15 flown in the centre for the pastor’s mic during the message so they can bring down the arrays a bit and make the sermon feel more intimate and authentic. There are also four CDD6 set into the stage for front fills to ensure optimum coverage for congregants seated in front of the stage.”
The church’s two main entrances include CDD5TX-WR’s on the exterior perimeter and Martin Audio C8.1T ceiling speakers in the tall lobby atrium based on the speakers’ narrow pattern and ability to throw more effectively below, and C6.8T in the restrooms. An Allen & Heath D-Live console is used for FOH and wireless in-ears are driven by IP mixers that control the mix busses and the rest of the band is on the ME1 system.
Commenting on the upgrade, David adds: “The old PA was a large point-source rig with a lot of phase coherence problems, dead spots and other issues. The original subs were massive double 18s ground-stacked on the extreme left and right and there was just no smooth bass response.
“The church was blown away with the new WPM system, especially compared to what they had before. The way we were able to array the subs and integrate the WPM’s into the room and blend the outfills and centre speakers, every seat in the space feels the same, even those right in front sound great because the CDD6’s keep up so impressively with the main PA. There just isn’t a bad seat in the house any more which is something they’d never experienced.
“According to the staff, even the feel of the worship experience is different. They’ve never seen their people engage with the service so easily, coming up to the booth and saying they could finally hear what was happening.
“They are also impressed with the speech reproduction,” David sums up. “This was the first time the pastor’s voice was in the centre as opposed to coming from the far left and right of the room. They still use the arrays and outfills for coverage but now they can bring up that centre speaker to provide a more authentic image for his voice. It makes the room feel very warm and intimate when he’s speaking. They also love the clarity and the warmth of the system’s musical reproduction.
“Bottom line, it’s one of the best rigs we installed last year. It was a very rewarding experience for us as the integrator because the church was so happy with the end result.”
26th May 2020
With Outline, Pastor's Message is Finally Heard at Korea’s largest Evangelical Holiness Church
South Korea – Jeonju-Paul Church is the largest Evangelical Holiness Church in South Korea, with 1,500 seats and 15,000 members. Simultaneously with the new pastor's inauguration service, the main loudspeaker system was completely replaced.
Outline’s Seoul-based distributor Hebsiba Multimedia opted to deploy a main rig with a L-C-R set-up. The left and right hangs each comprise 12 Outline Eidos 265 line array elements for mid-high frequency reproduction and a FlySub 15 enclosure to add bottom end punch. Four more Eidos 265s were deployed for the centre channel.
Outline’s Eidos 265 was designed for applications ranging from live events to permanent installations. With its low weight (just 21kg) and great size to performance ratio, it houses two 6.5” mid/low-frequency transducers and a high-frequency compression driver with a 2.5” diaphragm and 1.41” throat, loaded with a 100° (horizontal dispersion) waveguide.
A pair of Outline LAB 15 subwoofers is positioned on either side of the stage. Equipped with a single long-stroke 15-inch loudspeaker, the LAB 15 is a hybrid waveguide indirect radiation subwoofer system able to completely recover low frequency sound emission from the rear of its 15” woofer. It’s able to push out a continuous SPL of 134dB at 1m (140dB peak) from 33Hz.
The set-up’s powerhouse comprises Outline’s T-Five amplifiers with on-board DSP. Each amplifier channel is capable of driving up to four Eidos 265 or up to two Flysubs. A number of Outline Vegas 10 and Vegas 12 point-source enclosures are used for stage monitoring. Hebsiba used Outline OpenArray 3D software for sound prediction, coverage and weight distribution calculations.
The Jeonju-Paul Church’s current pastor is Hyun-mo Shin and the church broadcasts YouTube online worship services simultaneously with offline worship that practices social distancing due to Covid-19.
26th May 2020
TMB Adapting and Innovating for the Future
USA – Rock & Roll technology in airports, hotels and town squares? Architectural specifiers, and installers everywhere are discovering the advantages of products derived from TMB’s world famous road-proven technology, renowned for unsurpassed durability and integrity. Apart, perhaps, from aircraft carriers, concert touring is the most technically challenging, and also harshest environment, demanding flawless performance night after night, mile after mile. Furthermore, touring technology has a long history of being the vanguard for design innovations in other industries.
“There is no question Rock & Roll technology drives innovation in other industries, first theatre, then film and TV, then corporate events and theme parks and now architecture,” says Colin Waters, ex-roadie and TMB’s CEO/Founder. “To this end, TMB now has regional reps throughout America to liaise with specifiers, contractors and designers who place our innovative products into a broad spectrum of high-profile installations, including Wynn Resorts in Las Vegas, O’Hare airport in Chicago, the Moxy Hotel in New York, the Schuster Center in Dayton, Ohio, and many more. Our North American architectural rep programme is managed by Nicole Rizzo.”
Outside of America, TMB Architectural products, as seen on www.tmbarchitectural.com, are available from TMB’s regional distribution partners or directly from TMB. They include Solaris indoor and outdoor lighting fixtures, FloppyFlex LED neon, FloppyTape LED tape, Firefly Festoon and Fairy Lights, ProPower Company Switches; ProPlex Data Distribution Devices, IMS marquee/festoon lighting; Nuri*Lites lighting fixtures, W-DMX wireless lighting control (America only) and, of course, ProPlex Installation Data Cables.
For nearly 40 years, TMB has provided lighting and related products to entertainment and staging professionals worldwide and, in addition to innovative and popular lighting fixtures and digital distribution devices, was the first to design and build custom, proprietary cables, connectors, and assemblies for the industry.
In picture: CF-35 Individually DMX Controlled IP67 Strobe/Warning Light. Széchenyi Chain Bridge from Buda Castle in Budapest, Hungary.
22nd May 2020
Bandit Lites Sales Team Illuminates Brown County Music Center
USA – The city of Nashville was already well known as a centre for artists and artisans, but due to a 2009 fire that robbed the community of its music centre (known affectionately as the “Little Opry,”) county officials sought to build a venue that would draw top touring artists. In an effort to craft a lighting system that would match the talent they sought, Brown County commissioned the global leader in concert lighting, Bandit Lites, trusting the sales and integration team to make the space usable for touring acts. From rigging to backstage layout and ultimately the lighting controls, Bandit’s team elevated the lighting to match the vision of the centre.
“We wanted the stage to be a first class, state of the art lighting package,” explained project manager Doug Harden of Miller Architects. “Bandit delivered exactly that.”
Bandit Lites provided all the fixtures for the building, including the stage work lights, lobby lights and more, right down to the bathroom sconces. The state-of-the-art facility seats 2,000 people but the venue’s designers made sure that the farthest seat is only 106 feet from the stage, meaning every fan is able to experience a stellar show. Furthermore, with a stage measuring almost 80 feet wide, Bandit’s team knew the fixture selection would have to be precise.
Bandit supplied Ayrton Mistrals, HES SolaFrame 1000s, Elation Professional DARTZ 360, Chauvet Professional Strike 4 blinder and strobes, Chauvet Professional Rogue R2 Washes and ETC ColorSource Spots. In addition to the venue’s fixtures, Bandit’s team provided the Tyler Truss, Chainmaster Hoists from ACT Lighting and drapes from BellaTEX.
“We chose Aryton Mistral fixtures to be the workhorse spot over stage,” explained Bandit Lites’ senior systems integrator Andrew Fisher. “They allowed us to get the punch and the numbers we needed to fill a 78’ wide stage without blowing our budget. Because they didn’t consume our budget, we had room to add LED beam, wash, and blinder units that rounded out an awesome effects package. There are also SolaFrame 1000’s on a FOH truss that can easily call up and adjust high CRI specials throughout the show without having to climb a truss to focus. We rounded out the look with ETC ColorSource Leko’s that provide a general front wash, featuring multiple lighting angles and great colour fills for toners.”
Due to Bandit’s exemplary service in the touring industry, the sales team was uniquely qualified to provide luminaires that provide the level of lighting seen from top tier productions.
“Bandit supplied the Brown County Music Center with a remarkable lighting system overall,” praised lighting director Shea Briggs. “They were able to cater lighting needs to the building’s design, and I’d have to say that the Ayrton Mistral is my personal favourite. It’s a versatile fixture and that’s what I find so appealing about it. I’m able to create light pastel colours for various of washes or combine the two gobo wheels for morphing effects. Bandit’s placement of these fixtures within the lighting plot allows me to use them for their versatility.”
Bandit Lites also supplied an Avolites Tiger Touch II console with fader wing, allowing Shea to use accessible pre-programmed scenes while allowing for the ability to become interactive with the show whenever needed.
“My experience with Bandit’s service was nothing but positive,” finished Briggs. “Both John Jenkinson and Andrew Fisher were thorough when explaining the way things were set up and the equipment included. They were on site for our soft openings and were kind enough to answer any questions that I had. They even programmed some of the basics into the console. All the equipment is accurately labelled, and cables are neat where I can easily troubleshoot on show days with the touring acts, if need be. Bandit’s professionalism and precision allows for show days to run smoothly.”
Additional installs include S4 mini’s in the lobby to accent the signage (a fixture Harden hailed as “a perfect fit for what we wanted to achieve at a cost we could afford”) as well as an ETC Paradigm lighting control system for building-wide controls.
“Believe it or not, we had the most challenges in the restroom areas, dealing with other trades taking allotted space,” said Harden. “We had to modify our fixtures, and Bandit was very flexible and quick to adapt.”
When the venue opened in in the fall of 2019, its first concert sold out in 15 minutes, and Vince Gill took to the stage with a state-of-the-art lighting system.
“Partnering with Doug and the entire Brown County Music Center team was a wonderful experience,” said John Jenkinson, Bandit Lites installation project manager. “It was exciting to be a part of bringing this unique venue to life and adding to the rich musical heritage that make Brown County unique.”
21st May 2020
SugarHill Studios Embraces the Workflow Benefits of the GenesysControl Plug-in
USA – SugarHill Recording Studios, one of America’s best-known music recording facilities, has upgraded its Neve Genesys Black console by installing the GenesysControl plug-in.
Designed to future proof analogue workflows, the Neve GenesysControl plug-in provides the final link to total integration between Genesys and Genesys Black consoles and Digital Audio Workstations. With the GenesysControl plugin on board, recording professionals can mix traditionally using the console, work in-the-box, or combine both approaches in a highly effective hybrid workflow.
SugarHill studio engineer Stephen Finley says investing in the GenesysControl plug-in has brought an entirely new dimension to the studio’s workflow.
“I enjoy being able to automate my drum busses on the 8T section during choruses for extra excitement,” he explains. “Also, being able to have the automation plug in on all my tracks, put all the tracks in Pro Tools into the Neve at a touch and finalise any volume automation on the fly is very helpful. With the new GenesysControl plug-in and the console’s recall software, recalling a mix and making an adjustment is now a fairly easy task, depending on your patching, of course.”
Based in Houston, Texas, SugarHill has been helping internationally acclaimed artists create hit records since it first opened its doors in 1941. Founded by Bill Quinn as Quinn Recording Studio, it was renamed Gold Star Studio in 1950 and eventually became SugarHill in 1972 when it was acquired, and once again renamed, by notorious producer Huey P. Meaux. The studio is now owned by Stephen Finley, Fred 'Bubba' Hightower and Ryan Youngblood, collectively known as The Hightower Group.
To be continuously in business for nearly 80 years is in itself remarkable, but to also host artists as seminal and diverse as Lightnin' Hopkins, the Big Bopper, Freddy Fender, Willie Nelson, Ray Price and Destiny's Child is a pedigree very few studios in the world can claim.
One of the reasons why SugarHill has succeeded where others have failed is because it pays attention to the calibre of its engineering staff and the sonic quality of its studios, a combination that ensures customers always have access to the best human skills and the highest quality equipment. This philosophy is what drove the facility to install its Neve Genesys Black console, which now has pride of place in SugarHill’s Goldstar room, originally built in 1964 and designed by Jack Clement who also designed the legendary Sun Recording Studios in Nashville, Tennessee.
Finley says: “In 2018, we installed our Genesys Black G32 console with 16 analogue channels. It is a fantastic console and we all really love the pre amps and EQs. We have 16 Neve 1084s, which make everything sound better; just a little always helps. We also have one 8 channel bank of dynamics that I like to use while tracking drums as its helps to tame some hits. I use very little gain reduction.”
SugarHill’s Genesys Black is used for recording and mixing projects and Finley says it is equally versatile for both types of project.
“Since the inserts are always sending, during recording I have my inputs into Pro Tools as the channel direct outs and the outputs in Pro Tools as the individual Monitor outs. We use Pro Tools HD Native with an Avid MADI interface and MADI AD/DA cards for both the channel and monitor section of the console,” he says.
Continuing in more detail, he explains: “When I’m recording, I drop INSert 2 into the monitor path, but I don’t engage the button to activate the insert return. I then patch the send of INSert 2 into my multi input headphone system, which gives me a total of 16 inputs with #16 dedicated for talkback. This gives me 15 discrete inputs for Beyer Dynamic DT770 headphones that the band can adjust using their personal headphone mixer. I also use CueMix for the drums, with the kick and snare going to aux 1 and aux 2 respectively (CueMix 1) and the rest of the kit going to stereo aux 5 (CueMix 2). These CueMix outs then go into the headphone inputs. Let’s say I have bass, two guitars and a vocal on various channels. On those channels I'll place the INSert 2 into the monitor path and then patch the INSert 2 output (send) to the headphone system inputs to create an alternate Cue mix for the artists to hear while performing."
On mix projects, Finley really appreciates the Genesys Black’s 8T busses, which he uses on drums. “I have the 'shells' (kick, snare and toms) go to both 8T bus 1-2 and 8 bus T7-8,” he explains. “Then I have everything else including Hihat, overheads and room mics, going only to the 8T 7-8 bus. By inserting a pair of Distressors on 8T bus 1-2 and smacking that bus fairly hard, I can get the punch I need. I don’t like compressing the overheads and cymbals as this keeps a more open and less swishy cymbal sound.”
Finley adds that he likes to parallel vocals, typically on the main verse. “I add a compressor on the buss and sneak that compressed bus up under the uncompressed vocal to smooth it out,” he says.
Since acquiring its Genesys Black, SugarHill has completed many sessions on the console for artists such as Chance the Rapper, George Thorogood, Kevin Gates, 21 Savage, Maxo Kream, North Mississippi Allstars, Metro Boomin, Young Thug, Trill Sammy, Vehement Burn, East of Eado, ESG and Bushwick Bill. Most recently, Stephen Finley has been mixing an album for The Killer Hearts, which will be released soon on Spaghetty Town Records.
20th May 2020
TiMax and dcontrol collaboration by FACE Projects for historic immersive club in Brussels
Belgium – In the heart of Brussels, an award-winning and leading-edge, AV solution combining TiMax SoundHub and control, realised from concept by Belgium’s premier design and installation integrator, FACE Projects, creates a vintage atmosphere and jazzy vibe to private members' bar, Impérial. The immersive environment draws guests into the charm of the bar which oozes with the underground cool of a turn of the last century speakeasy.
The vision of Carl de Moncharline, owner and manager of several successful Brussels venues was for an ‘immersive environment creating spherical sound experiences’, as well as a stylish lighting system in keeping with the historical façade and vintage ambience of the venue, that was versatile enough for live jazz concerts, a DJ clubbing experience, or even as a cocktail bar. The challenge to create this in a low-ceiling and small, 300 square metre space fell to long term and trusted AV partner, FACE Projects, working in conjunction with refurbishment project manager, Laurent Grietens, of Wisely Ltd.
Simplicity was key to the specification for the venue. Dramatically different sound environments would need to be recreated at the flick of a switch which for FACE, made TiMax a necessity. As FACE CEO, Karel De Piere confides, “I do not even want to think how we would set up the sound system without TiMax, no other product could provide this level of precise control.”
The TiMax SoundHub-32S spatial audio matrix controls a total of 38 discrete speakers from Electro-Voice. Effective sound control without spillage is a deliberate consequence of the many distributed speaker sources, which help avoid noise pollution for the neighbouring buildings. Having said that, the speakers integrated into the walls and ceilings of the venue are powered by three eight-channel Powersoft Ottocanali amplifiers and a Duecanali for the sub-bass units, which ensure a solid club vibe in the space.
Dave Haydon, director of TiMax developers Out Board, visited to assist with immersive rendering of the space and programming object-based spatial effects. Zone overlays were created within TiMax to segment the venue space, which can also be aligned across the full venue area. From a static image for live music sets to dynamic movement for evenings of clubbing with a DJ, presets and different spatial effects are defined to suit the requirements of each of the club’s audio configurations and performance formats.
One of the most exciting soundscapes that activates the clubbing experience is described as a sound shower which as the name suggests, submerges guests in sound, with TiMax spatially blending speakers spread along the low-arched ceiling of the venue with others in the walls. Stijn Vermeiren, FACE project engineer, adds: “One of the set-ups makes soundscapes very simply travel into 180° on two axes, which even at quite low levels gives a very clear spatial feeling.”
Controlling TiMax, as well as all the other elements of the venue’s AV system, is the control solution, dcontrol, developed independently by FACE's Vermeiren. Driving integration to the next level, dcontrol is a software-based solution that interconnects unrelated AV equipment, fixing the highly complex problem of connecting devices that do not natively speak to each other. dcontrol links the venue’s devices, synchronising the settings and controls across an open management system not limited by a few brand protocols or closed systems.
The club’s haute technological backbone interfaces, but does not disrupt, the magical veneer of the club’s ambience: the authenticity of its visage is paramount. Impérial glows in the warm white rows of Lucenti Pearls, controlled and powered via DMX.
Configured as a pixel led ceiling matrix, 230 individually controlled Pearls are daisy-chained on wired festoon cable. The lighting integration appears historically authentic whilst also serving as versatile entertainment lighting, which has the full-colour spectrum at its disposal for video-mapped lighting displays on club nights. It is also functional within the space as the festoon fitting and discreet DMX powering complement the low ceiling and further house lights are not required.
Club founder, Carl de Montcharline, is delighted with the outcome of the club integration: “The results are just as I planned for. The building is beautifully historic and we have worked with its style to create an equally beautiful inner space for guests to enjoy, which adapts to the club’s changing needs. I work with FACE because they realise in the space exactly what I ask for and more.”
19th May 2020
Paul Restaurants in Baku Has Second Helping of Martin Audio CDD
Azerbaijan – When Paul Azerbaijan embarked on their latest restaurant projects in the Azerbaijan capital they again approached PROAV, the Martin Audio distributors for their audio requirements.
After favouring an alternative brand in their first restaurant in the city, the management of the global brand, which specialises in French cuisine, have subsequently used Martin Audio’s highly popular CDD series, which features advanced coaxial differential dispersion technology, including their latest two projects: Paul Azerbaijan Cinema and Paul Caspian.
PROAV managing partner Elshan Aliyev says: “The client was looking for high quality background music, and we specified CDD series speakers because of the amazing sound quality for this purpose. CDD series speakers have a very specific sound and are our number one choice for background music applications.”
As a result they installed 14 of the ultra-compact but powerful CDD5 and four SX110 (1 x 10”) discreet subwoofers, as well as 10 C6.8T 6.5” high-performance, flush-mount ceiling speakers.
The CDD5 is a two-way passive speaker designed for unobtrusive positioning in architectural installations including bars, museums, foyers and restaurants such as this. It features a unique, patent-pending 5” (125mm) LF/0.7” (19mm) HF Coaxial Differential Dispersion driver in a rigid ABS moulded enclosure, and comes with a versatile, omni-directional mounting bracket.
The client is also delighted with the result. Stated a spokesman for the management: “This Martin Audio sound system installation from the team at PROAV perfectly fits our requirements and has also met the approval of our clientele.”
19th May 2020
Alabama’s new Mars Music Hall a hit with Elation lighting
USA – Mars Music Hall in Huntsville is changing the landscape of the music scene in northern Alabama. The latest success in an ongoing expansion project at the multi-purpose Von Braun Center, Mars Music Hall proudly debuted its Elation Professional lighting rig in early January, a welcome occasion that set an upbeat tone for the next eight weeks of shows before the venue went into COVID-19 hibernation.
The inaugural show, a 3 January sold-out performance featuring Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, highlighted the intimate character of the venue’s broad, not-a-bad-seat-in-the-house design with its wrapping balcony overlooking a 50ft wide stage. A variety of events ranging from concerts to comedy acts and everything in between play the new venue, all benefiting from state-of-the-art lighting and acoustics.
Justin Young, production supervisor at Von Braun Center (VBC) the past six years, designed the lighting system for the new space and worked with Freed Sales to secure an Elation lighting package. Having developed a relationship with the rep firm that goes back many years, he says he knew Dustin Pesnell and his team would take good care of them. “At the theatrical lighting shop I was at before I came to VBC, I saw how well Freed took care of us and over time we bought a lot of Elation gear,” he commented. “I know the brand well and knew I wanted to deal with a company that I could trust. I’m perfectly happy with the equipment but that wasn’t my driving factor in choosing Elation. Relationship and experience were key.”
First opened in 1975, Von Braun Center, with an indoor arena, concert hall, playhouse, convention spaces, banquet halls, and a full-service restaurant has grown to be one of the busiest event centres in the country. Production in its 34 individual rental spaces, be it a wedding, prom, convention, corporate event or high-profile touring act, can all be handled in house. With a tremendous demand for events in its existing spaces, the additional 1,575 capacity Mars Music Hall has filled the need for increased concert demand.
“It’s the only space at VBC with a fully automated lighting system and I knew from the start that I wanted to go with all LED,” Young says. “Not only did we not want to mess with lamps but we’re trying to get our power draw footprint down as far as we can and this was an obvious area to help with that.” Because the room is relatively small and with trims of only 22 feet, Young knew that LED would be fine for the room. “You don’t need the biggest and brightest for every application,” he says, noting that he didn’t even entertain going with discharge lamps. “This rig is a good example of what you can do with this level of gear.”
Mars Music Hall is a new build and new construction always poses special challenges with different areas being worked on at the same time and no previous experience in the space to go by. Nevertheless, it can also be an advantage as you work alongside other installers and contractors and have the opportunity to get immediate feedback. One of the main challenges at Mars Music Hall was working amongst and around ducting, HVAC, existing electrical, etc. “Fitting a system in there that was as flexible as it could be in a space that already has spatial constraints was a challenge,” Young says, adding that he had to make some functional decisions based on immovable objects. “For example, in order to work around existing HVAC pipe in the ceiling, I created two front V-shaped trusses that avoid the pipe. It looks great and adds a nice visual difference to the three overhead horizontal trusses.”
Wanting to create a malleable rig, “something that has a little bit for any type of programmer,” Young started with colour wash possibilities. “A big focus of that and something I knew I had to have was a good stage wash and I knew the Fuze Wash with its RGBW COB LED engine would be ideal for that. It’s also important to me to have a good colour wash because we have quite a few acts that come through who are a bit old school and they want a lot of colour wash.” Young says that sometimes, too, he finds it necessary to remind some of the younger LDs that come through to remember that the ticket buyer wants to see the act. With Fuze Wash Z350 fixtures populating the downstage truss and both V-shaped trusses, he provides ample opportunity for that.
Big on gear that’s been on the road a while and proven reliable, when looking for a good spot fixture Young sought advice from some of his trusted lighting network colleagues. “I know the operations manager at Elite Multimedia in Nashville who already had Artiste DaVincis in their inventory,” he said. “He couldn’t keep them in the shop and had just bought some more fixtures. That was enough for me. Once I knew the DaVincis were out on the road and holding up well and were popular, I went with them. The room is not that big so they fit in real well.” He adds that they also met his price point.
Filling out the rig are compact DARTZ 360 LED beam/spot moving heads used for powerful aerial beam effects from overhead truss and floor positions, SixBar 1000 LED battens hung across the upstage truss to downlight the curtain or frame out the stage, Cuepix Blinder WW4s providing high-impact white light from the midstage truss and SixPar 100s populating every stick of truss as colourful truss warming effects. On each side of the stage are LED screens running Arkaos media server content. Harkening back to his days as manager of a production house, Young says the rig is all tour grade equipment. “It’s basically a road rig in a permanent application. We could literally take the whole rig down, pack it in a truck and set it up somewhere else.”
As far as the house lighting, early on in the project Young approached VBC management about doing something special. “I said that if they would give me the money that would normally be spent on house lighting then I could do it all with LED and be controllable. It was important to me because even before the project happened I had a dream of mapping the ceiling of a venue and this was a great opportunity.” Young got his wish in the form of Colour Pendants installed by Axis Productions of Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Colour Pendants provide a dynamic house lighting solution above the audience, allowing for more dynamic house looks and more immersive designs. “Because we are the Mars Music Hall, in theme the doors and intermission look is house at red. Even if we didn’t do any other effects, being able to do that with the Colour Pendants definitely pulls the whole room together,” he concludes.
18th May 2020
Tacchi-Morris Arts Centre Chooses Zero 88 FLX
UK – The Tacchi-Morris Arts Centre (TMAC) is a lively and unique multi-purpose performance space located in Taunton, Somerset, and dedicated to staging an array of shows, events and activities for the whole community embracing music, dance, drama, comedy, spoken word and other genres.
Just before the coronavirus pandemic temporarily halted the entire entertainment industry, TMAC took delivery of a brand new Zero 88 FLX lighting control console, complete with two wings, which was specified by technical manager Kevin Stratton.
The new console replaces their previous generation Zero 88 consoles which have been there since the venue opened in 2000.
Kevin has worked there since 2016, and before then was a busy freelancer, touring theatre technician and production LX who has also worked as a Level 3 instructor in production arts at a leading Somerset further education college.
He decided on the FLX after extensive research. “A new console isn’t an item purchased every year, so we wanted to ensure that it was right for us and fit for purpose, so trialled a number of options before choosing the FLX.”
Familiarity was a major factor he explained, together with the price to features ratio; as a non-funded venue, best value was a major consideration. “FLX is a complex, competitively priced desk that will grow with our venue.”
The FLX is controlling over 200 generic and LED lighting fixtures in the house over 96 channels of dimming including the house lights, and there are additional moving light and other intelligent luminaire rentals for the three or four larger shows they produce each year.
The venue is also part of a 1,200-pupil secondary school and college campus. During a standard year, they will produce between 120 and 150 of their own shows and host some 60 professional touring shows that have included Bristol Old Vic, La Navet Bete, Jasmin Vardomen Dance, Bill Bailey, BBC Question Time and more, together with numerous bands and live music acts plus an annual professional pantomime during festive season.
Kevin’s house team all received training from Zero 88 on the FLX before the console arrived on site and have subsequently had follow up training both there in-person and online.
They have taken positive steps during the UK’s current Covid-19 lockdown to test the console using Capture visualiser software, and also utilised Zero 88’s comprehensive Zoom training webinars that have been available online. “Zero’s 88’s tech support team are always happy to help,” comments Kevin.
The first show lit with the new console was comedian Bill Bailey in the middle of a preview tour at the time. In this instance, Kevin and the house crew lit the show impressing Bill Bailey’s touring company.
All TMAC’s in-house lighting shows are lit by Kevin and his colleagues in collaboration with their on-site creative team of directors and choreographers.
Visiting LDs will also use the console for rigging, plotting, and focusing, and everyone so far loves the remote functionality and its integration with the Apple Watch in particular, which never fails to impress!
Another popular and useful feature is that FLX can load ASCII show files which is a generic file format shared between a range of consoles from different manufactures, and RDM functionality for hired fixtures saves valuable time during pre-rigs and plotting. From now on, they will rent in only RDM-enabled lights, confirms Kevin.
Having worked with Zero 88 for some years, he thinks the brand and its products are “intuitive, well-built and robust,” due to those working in product design, development as well as on sales and technical “clearly understanding how shows and events are run.”
Anyone considering an FLX purchase should “Speak to the team and engage in the training to get a good feel for the products and the outstanding Zero 88 backup and support.”
photos: Kevin Stratton / TMAC
18th May 2020
Hicktown Records Adds More Modules to its Neve Genesys Console
Bavaria – German recording studio and music label Hicktown Records has added eight more modules to the Neve Genesys console in its main control room, bringing the desk up to G64 32-channel specifications.
Based in Rosenheim, Bavaria, Hicktown Records installed its Neve Genesys console in 2009 when the studio facility originally opened. But even then, Hicktown’s CEO, A&R manager and producer Reinhard Gross (pictured) had his eye on the future because he ordered a G48 console with G64 dimensions, knowing that at some point he would want to expand it.
“Life is a compromise and much though I would like a Neve 88R console with 128 channels, I knew when I set up my studio that I couldn’t afford one,” he laughs. “But I am the kind of person who plans ahead and I will also pay more if I am convinced by the quality argument. When I was choosing a console, I was looking for something that had full analogue character, a fast intuitive workflow, DAW options, lots of headroom, nice onboard EQs and dynamics and, of course, good pre-amps. The only console that could fulfil all those requirements was the Genesys, and to this day I have never regretted my investment.”
Reinhard Gross and Hicktown Records’ two in-house engineers love working on the Genesys because it is capable of delivering a flexible and extremely effective workflow.
“It is an amazing console, and of course it has the unique Neve sound,” Gross says. “I really like having two inputs for each channel, which expands the desk from 32 channels to 64 channels returning from the DAW and summing in analogue. I also like the option to route the insert to any place on each channel. When mixing I often use the 1084 EQ on the channel path, then I copy the signal with the CH Button to the monitor path, creating parallel processing for the EQ’d signal, mixing that way sounds amazing.”
Gross adds that he is delighted he has now been able to expand the desk with more modules. He has also added a 1084 EQ and a DYN Cassette.
“It has taken ten years – and a bit of Brexit panic – but we are finally there,” he says. “As a company, AMS Neve never stands still and has continued to develop the functionality of the Genesys. The new routing options are awesome and just what I've been waiting for. The hardware and faders feel better as Neve has improved the quality, while the meter option for the DYN modules is also nice to have. I am beginning to love the new channels even more than the old ones!”
Gross set up Hicktown Records with the express intension of offering artists a combined service: one where they could record their work and have access to professional record label services for marketing and distribution. The label covers all musical genres and styles, with the emphasis on recording real instruments in the facility’s two studios, both of which are connected to the main Genesys-equipped control room. There is also a fully equipped mastering studio with PMC twotwo8 monitoring.
“Many bands still believe that creating a great recording is all they need to do to achieve success,” Gross says, “but once the record is released, they get stuck and break up because they haven’t achieved their goals. At Hicktown we plan the whole process from the first idea to the final product, its distribution and promotion. We deliver a great service with high end production and mastering, and we help artists on what really counts: their music.”
Although the recent Covid-19 lockdown in Germany has put some projects on hold, Reinhard Goss says Hicktown Records’ studios are incredibly busy. Recent work has included tracking guide tracks for a pop punk project starting in June, mixing a 1950s-style Rock & Roll album that was recorded live with three-room separation (drums, guitar and upright bass) and mixing one hour of music for a feature film travel documentary.
“Our calendar is fully booked until October 2020 and I think without the virus we would have been even busier,” he says. “I can safely say that the music making dreams I had as a 14-year-old have finally come true, and a lot of that is down to having this very nice Neve console.”
18th May 2020
Lambda Light and Media Design Evokes Timeless Beauty at St. Hippolytus with Chauvet Professional
Germany – With its green copper capped spire reaching 75 metres toward the sky, Saint Hippolytus Church stands high above the houses, shops and modern, small industrial buildings that surround it. Those who step inside the impressive neo-Gothic structure encounter an interior that rivals its exterior in splendour. From the beauty of its colourful “Praise the Space” choir windows, to its towering yoked ceiling and cantoned pillars, the space inside the historic 650-seat church is at turns imposing and reassuring.
Accentuating the transformative effect of the church’s timeless architectural features is a new LED lighting system featuring Chauvet Professional fixtures that were installed by Lambda Light and Media Design.
“We had already done some projects for services and celebrations at Saint Hippolytus, so the church was familiar with our work,” said Markus Lipphaus of Lambda. “There was an understanding, that the old lighting system needed to be replaced. LED fixtures were the logical choice, especially considering the energy savings.”
Lipphaus and the Lambda team had clear goals in mind for the upgrade project at the church, which was built in 1898. “This is an official landmark, so for us, it was important to highlight the great architecture,” he said. “I had the idea of indirectly lighting the ceiling, which was already pure white, and therefore perfect for this type of illumination angle.
“Next, we wanted to highlight very particular spots, like the side of the church with the huge windows,” continued Lipphaus. “Also, the middle pillars are great for uplighting. With the NET-X II, we were able to program different scenes for the different services very easily. For concerts or other events, we are able to control and change everything easily via sACN. This enables very different types of lighting effects.”
The lighting rig installed at the church features 40 COLORado fixtures and 12 Ovation units in addition to the single NET-X II. These include eight COLORado 1-Quad fixtures positioned in the main hall, as well as 24 COLORado 2-Solo and eight COLORado 1-Solo units, which are used in the main hall and for uplighting.
“We are able to rely on the COLORado fixtures’ zoom wherever needed in the main hall to achieve the right colour balance,” said Lipphaus. “In some spots, the beam angle perfectly matches the gaps in the wall, so I selected the Quads rather than Solo because of cost.”
Some of the COLORado Solo fixtures were also used with a pair of Ovation C-805FC units to uplight the church’s majestic pillars and other impressive features, including its organ. At the entrance area, Lipphaus mounted ten Ovation FTD-55WW warm white Fresnel units with barndoors.
“The Fresnels create a very nice impression, illuminating the entire entrance area in a bright light,” said Lipphaus. “With the barndoors and the zoom, I was able to set some highlights while other sections of wall were left out of the highlighting, as they were not as nice looking due to their age.
“From a lighting perspective, an old church is different in many ways,” continued Lipphaus. “The old structure requires a lot of thinking ahead, as well as a secure installation. The electric situation had to be analysed by an electrician first and some details had to be renovated in order to support LED lighting. With the church’s impressive structure, the fixtures had to be very subtle; you don’t want the lighting system to pop in the eyes on first sight. The fixtures needed to be very quiet, but still had to be IP65 rated, because of them being placed in a moist and old structure.”
These were challenges to be sure, but by meeting all requirements and expectations, the Lambda team enhanced an interior vista that is timeless in its beauty and inspiring in its effect.
photos: Dennis Poser
15th May 2020
Renkus-Heinz ICLive X Series Helps Ivory Coast Church Deliver Optimal Audio to Thousands Every Day
Ivory Coast – St. Cecilia Catholic Parish, located in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, has seen its congregation grow significantly over the past 25 years. To accommodate the vibrant congregation, the parish began increasing the number of services and programs being offered. It also expanded a large outdoor, overflow seating area. But as they made changes, it quickly became clear their existing sound system wouldn’t deliver the quality, power, or control necessary to deliver the message.
The church’s main sanctuary is a large, rectangle area with additional left- and right-wing seating spaces on each side. All totalled, the indoor space seats about 1,000, but that’s only a part of the congregation that flocks to the church. The large outdoor area accommodates even more church members than the indoor space. At least 1,000 additional parishioners bring their own portable seating and tents to enjoy the services outdoors.
The church offers three services every day, Monday through Saturday, and holds five services every Sunday. Each service features spoken word sermons and presentations, recorded music, live bands, and full choirs. The church actually has 17 different choirs who rotate through the services and programs, so as not to exhaust any one choir.
With so many large and complex gatherings, leadership at St. Cecilia turned to Inza Bamba, managing director at Protech Distribution, an Ivory Coast AV integration firm.
“This church is so wonderful; every service is a celebration!” said Bamba. "Music is a critical part of that celebration, and it's important that they have the proper fidelity, sound pressure coverage, and excellent speech intelligibility both indoors and outdoors. If any part of that is lost, then the message is lost."
Bamba said the spaces within St. Cecilia Catholic Parish presented a few issues in that internally, the ceiling height of the main sanctuary is much higher than the side wing areas. This required side coverage with a slight delay for the sound to be synchronised. Additionally, the interior of the main sanctuary has walls of windows and stained glass, which requires the audio to be steered away from to avoid reflection. Church leaders also wanted a system that had a relatively small footprint to accommodate aesthetic concerns.
Bamba quickly identified Renkus-Heinz’ new ICLive X Series system as the solution for the unique needs at St. Cecilia. The ICLive X Series from Renkus-Heinz brings a new level of flexibility for integrators and contractors to provide the best solution for any application. ICLive X is a complete system consisting of two freely combinable, steerable-array modules, the ICLX and ICLXL, and a matching subwoofer, the ICLX-118S.
Renkus-Heinz’ digital beam steering technology offers the benefit of placing sound precisely where you want it: on the audience. The result? Superior sound in any environment, whether it be a standard room, or one with many architectural peculiarities.
Bamba says the ICLive X Series’ provision of proper sound pressure level (SPL) combined with its small footprint, made it perfect for the space.
“In the main hall back wall, behind the stage, we installed two, self-powered, ICLive XL systems,” said Bamba. “Just these two speakers and their matching subs give us more than enough power and all the intelligibility we need to assure excellent quality and coverage. We run the system in stereo, and it sounds amazing.”.
In regard to the windows and glass, Bamba explained that with the length of the main hall at nearly 32 metres, any sound bounce from the walls and glass would be troublesome..
“So, with the digital beam steering technology, we measured the first seat in the house and the furthest seat, and we told the speakers at what distances to start dropping the acoustic pressure to make sure the coverage was very even,” said Bamba. “We programmed in the coordinates of the distance from the first seat to the speaker, and the distance to the last person sitting, and we made adjustments for about a 29-metre throw, which was perfect for covering the back, so there is no more reflection. That's the beauty of the steering technology.”.
In addition, a set of Renkus-Heinz CX61A and CX62A compact, two-way Complex Conic loudspeakers were installed in the sanctuary and side wing spaces as delay/fills. The C Series loudspeakers employ advanced technology and application-driven engineering to deliver a very accurate and realistic sound.
Cutting-edge driver technology and unique innovations like Complex Conic horns deliver natural sounding music and intelligible speech. Versatile enclosure designs, combined with a wide range of mounting options and associated hardware, provide unrestricted flexibility for both portable and installed applications. A large-format, environmental speaker system from One Systems was installed to cover the outdoor area..
“The church has been using the system for about four months now, and everyone is very pleased,” said Bamba. “They even gave us a round of applause and a very nice certificate of honour for a job well done. We would not have had such results without Renkus-Heinz. I look forward to many more installations with their products and technology.”
14th May 2020
Simplicity of EVO 4 Makes an Impression on Lewis Macleod
UK – Actor, comedian and voice over artist, Lewis Macleod sings the praises of the new EVO 4 audio interface he now uses in his home voice over booth, where he has found himself working since the latest social distancing restrictions came into force.
Lewis has had a wide range of acting roles from Postman Pat to impressions of Donald Trump, voicing many characters in video games and even in Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace. Accustomed to going into studios, he has always been able to rely on engineers to take care of everything for him.
Indeed, he admits to being not the least bit technical: “I can just about operate a fridge door and heat a pie in the microwave,” he quips. With that in mind, his entire home studio set-up needed to be very straightforward. Happily, it is. Based in “an unused spare corner upstairs” his studio tech is centred around the EVO 4 designed by Audient. “It is very easy to use and quite stunning in its simplicity,” he says of the audio interface launched in January and designed with exactly that in mind: to make recording easy.
He’s been relying on the Smartgain feature in particular, which automatically sets the gain levels as soon as he starts speaking. “It feels like a three stage, simple action to get the levels right,” he says. “I particularly like the ability to toggle between monitoring and gain on the same wheel. It really is tremendous.”
Although the plan to build a small voice over suite at home was hatched at the end of last year, it was the outbreak of Covid-19 that really got things moving. Whilst a local carpenter measured up the frame and provided the shape and soundproofing for the walls, Lewis enlisted the help of his technical friend and sound specialist, Steve Hills to take care of the cabling, mics and acoustic panelling.
“EVO 4 sounds great,” confirms Steve, who sourced the two in / two out audio interface. He’s been getting Lewis set up for some of his voice over work and really appreciated its versatility. “I love the loop-back feature. We are using Final Cut Pro X to work to picture and do sound editing with it, and everything is flying. EVO 4 is a great idea and a great box.”
Having worked in entertainment and marketing over the last 30 years, Lewis is pleased with the simplicity of the studio, as it has meant he’s been able to continue working during the UK lockdown. “We’ve been preparing for a link up with Steve Wright on BBC Radio 2 for some voice overs and impressions on the show, this week,” he says.
As to how Lewis will be working in the future: “I reckon once lockdown finishes I’ll be happy to go back into studios but I’ll definitely be spending more time at home as long as there are projects to work on.”
12th May 2020
George Prince III turns to Point Source Audio for his essential tool
USA – Emmy Award-winning camera operator George Prince III has worked on his fair share of high-profile events. With credits including the Oscars, American Idol and the Superbowl, plus a whole host more, he has proven himself in some of the most watched and most demanding live productions. Clear communication has been vital to the success he has experienced, and this is aided by his use of Point Source Audio’s CM-i5 in-ear intercom headset.
“When I first became a camera operator, an engineer gave me a headset and said, ‘don’t lose it, it’s like a plumber showing up without a wrench’. That stuck with me, so I have always had my own headset,” recalls Prince. While initially owning his own equipment was due to good practice, this choice has become even more important in the current climate. “The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted that you should have your own headset for hygiene and personal safety reasons,” states Prince.
With the headset being a crucial tool for Prince, the decision to invest in a new model was not taken lightly. The camera operator sampled many different options before selecting the Point Source Audio solution and there were a number of reasons why he opted for the CM-i5. “I looked at a variety of low-profile headsets, but I found that changing the in-ears was easiest with CM-i5,” he explains. “Other factors, such as its lightweight design and the small microphone were also important for me.”
Having put the headset through its paces on several productions, Prince has been impressed with the way it has performed in the live environment. “It’s not bulky and the low-profile design means that it doesn’t feel like you’ve had a clamp on your head after a long day of filming,” he says. “The isolation the in-ears provide means that the headset works really well in loud environments such as the music shows, awards shows, or sporting events I have worked on.”
Reflecting on the decision, Prince is happy with the headset investment he made. “The CM-i5 is really light and sounds great. Other camera operators even like the way it looks and want to get their own. I’m happy to recommend it to them.”
12th May 2020
Shibuya’s landmark CÉ LA VI Tokyo opens with Martin Audio
Japan – Offering stunning views over Tokyo, CÉ LA VI is a new luxury dining, bar and club lounge complex spread across the 17th and 18th rooftop floors of the revamped Tokyu Plaza Shibuya Fukuras shopping mall.
The CÉ LA VI marque is already well known as the top floor bar of Singapore's five-star hotel, Marina Bay Sands, and CÉ LA VI Tokyo has now opened as the first concept-imported restaurant in Japan for such a global brand.
Patrons can take advantage of a café bar, high standard dining, drinking and DJ performances in a luxurious space, or they simply come for the spectacular night view in the heart of Tokyo culture.
A number of Martin Audio’s specialist ranges were specified by Mr. Shintaro Dobashi, director of the company Enter Sandman, who was in charge of the audio design. He explained: “The customer’s request was to connect all three sections of the venue; to create a restaurant that could be used commercially or privately, to make it ideal for a cool Tokyo clientele, and a place that lived up to the reputation of the CÉ LA VI brand.
“From the outset, we aimed at something with high design, excellent stability and operability while maintaining optimum quality. As this is a restaurant, not all staff are familiar with audio equipment, and so we embarked on the project with the aim of building an audio set up that is easy and reliable to use by anyone.”
‘The Place’ takes up two floors of Shibuya Fukuras, and is divided into three luxury areas. On the 17th floor, there is a lounge / night club, ‘CÉ LA VI Club Llounge’, and a casual dining café bar ‘Bao by CÉ LA VI’. Finally, the fine dining ‘CÉ LA VI Restaurant and Sky Bar’ is situated on the 18th floor.
The entire Club Lounge floor is dominated by various Martin Audio loudspeakers. They consist of THV and SXH218 for the main system, with CDD15 and SXF115 for side fills, LE100 for DJ monitoring and CDD12 for the VIP room.
"Club Lounge is fully glazed and customers can overlook the night sky of Shibuya,” explained Mr. Dobashi. “However, we took care of reflections back from the glass when constructing the system. First, we simulated the sound with EASE/EASE Focus, to ensure the bounce back from the glass was minimised, then placed various Martin Audio loudspeakers accordingly. Carrying out repeated simulations at the design stage, we were able to achieve good process control with less slapback."
The 17th-floor casual dining area, Bao, offers seated dining with additional terrace seating, creating a club-like atmosphere. "Because we sometimes hold events in conjunction with Club Lounge on the same floor, we combined Martin Audio C4.8T and C6.8T ceiling speakers, depending on the height. On the terrace seats, we put CDD12 as a main system, with CDD8 on the sides. An SX118 extends the low frequency, while CDD6 is used in areas where the main system cannot reach. Overall, Martin Audio sound remains unified throughout, including within the club area."
The fine dining SKY BAR on the 18th floor has also been designed with plenty of Martin Audio C4.8T and C6.8T ceiling speakers evenly distributed, to avoid any hot spotting or ‘dead’ areas.
In summary, Mr. Dobashi said: “I am delighted by the many favourable customer comments about the sound, and also the staff saying how easy it is to use. We had fun to making this project because CÉ LA VI recognise the value of good sound and let us have our heads. I always hope to meet the expectations of customers who respect good sound. This time, we made EASE visualisations so we could view the data before introduction and I am proud of what we have achieved here.
“In fact there is no other location where you can overlook such a view as Shibuya’s. CÉ LA VI is a restaurant that values sound as much as cuisine.”
12th May 2020
Toitoi Augments Historic Hawke’s Bay Opera House with Adamson
New Zealand – One of New Zealand’s most storied performance venues has reopened after a five-year dormancy with a new name, a new look and, thanks in large part to an expansive IS-Series audio solution from Adamson Systems Engineering, a newly-augmented guest experience.
The prestigious Hawke’s Bay Arts & Events Centre, known as Toitoi, is home to a historic 979-seat opera house, one of the most revered lyric houses across all of Australasia. First opened in 1915, the opera house and its adjacent municipal building were both closed in 2014 having been deemed “earthquake-prone”; however, with the full support of the local community, work began on a $17.8-million NZD (approx. $10.76 million USD) venue-wide overhaul midway through 2017.
A key component of that investment was an all-new sound reinforcement system for the opera house, ultimately built around Adamson’s install-focused IS-Series, which packs the tour-proven performance of the company’s heralded S-Series loudspeakers into sleek, architecturally-friendly enclosures.
“The key system requirements were a rider-friendly small-format array from a recognisable brand offering even coverage and tonal consistency across all seating areas, exceptional clarity for speech, and full-range performance with sufficient headroom for music around the 100dB range,” explains Mike Hughes, managing director of Auckland-based integration firm Intec Systems. “Having completed a number of installations with Adamson’s IS-Series, we knew it was an ideal candidate for the job and set about designing the system.”
The Intec team spent considerable time modelling the space in Adamson’s Blueprint AV design and simulation software to ensure their design met all of the initial objectives. The team was tasked with delivering a turnkey audio solution, which included custom-engineered hanging brackets, motors, and rigging solutions; all cabling and infrastructure; and a bespoke control system.
Hughes notes that when it came to the system design specifically, there were some challenges inherent in the opera house’s age and architecture.
“With two steep balconies, it quickly became clear that single array hangs would leave large areas shaded by overhangs,” he explains. That informed the decision to essentially split the arrays, with eight ultra-compact IS7 two-way, full-range enclosures per side flown high to cover the two balcony areas and an additional four IS7s per side flown low to cover the stalls.
Rounding out the package are four IS118 and six IS119 subwoofers to ably handle the low end, a pair of IS7px two-way, full-range point-source cabinets for infill, and a complement of ten PC5 point-source cabinets split between front fills and under-balcony delays. Intec sourced all of the Adamson components via Direct Imports, the company’s exclusive distributor in New Zealand.
Hughes adds that to maximise efficiency and ease-of-use for venue staff, Intec’s custom control system enables single-button push recall of amplifier data for various input locations and configurations, the ability to isolate the balconies, and a simple operation mode to handle basic events without a mixing console or dedicated engineer.
Dane Fletcher, Toitoi’s technical manager, says the system has exceeded their already-high expectations. “We’re loving it,” he enthuses. “The theatre’s acoustics are amazing and the Adamson system makes the most out of it. We had already heard the Adamson systems at Baycourt Theatre in Tauranga and Napier Municipal Theatre and we liked the sleek-looking PA. We thought that it would fit in with the style of our theatre, and it does hang perfectly.”
Local audiences had a chance to experience that first-hand following Toitoi’s reopening on 29 February, 2020, with several productions taking to its iconic stage before the venue’s temporary closure in mid-March to combat the spread of COVID-19.
Of course, the community was an integral part of the project from the outset, and a key objective for the team was to make Toitoi a “fourth-generation performing arts centre”, one that takes a proactive role in advancing the arts within the community it serves. A major component of that is offering local organisations, artists, and technicians access to top-tier production technologies.
Thanks in large part to the team at Intec Systems and their partners at Direct Imports and Adamson, that’ll be the case at Toitoi – Hawke’s Bay Arts & Event Centre for years to come.
photos Mike Hughes
7th May 2020
Utah’s Pre-eminent Recording Facility Funk Studios Acquires Solid State Logic Duality
USA— Veteran composer and songwriter Jim Funk was considering a number of mixing console options for Studio A at his newly built Funk Studios in Utah when he started talking with Phill Scholes, Solid State Logic’s Los Angeles-based vice president of technical operations. “After a few conversations I was a lot more educated on SSL, their preamps and what the Duality could offer,” says Funk, who unveiled his flagship control room with a Solid State Logic Duality δelta Pro-Station SuperAnalogueTM console as its centrepiece.
Initially conceived as a two-room facility, since expanded to three, Funk Studios can handle projects of all styles and types, from vocal overdubs and mixing all the way up to large orchestral and choral tracking sessions. Funk engaged Jerry Steckling of JSX Audio to design the complex, which features a 1,300-square-foot Studio A tracking space, dubbed The Stage, offering 23-foot ceilings, custom variable acoustics and four iso booths, one housing a Yamaha C7 grand piano with Disklavier.
Funk and his staff were already predisposed toward SSL consoles, having installed an XL desk in Studio B a year before the Duality arrived. “I think a big part of the decision to go with the Duality was the experience I was having on the XL Desk for the first year that I was working for the company,” says recording engineer Stoker White, who works for Funk’s long-established musical theatre production track recording business.
“I was using a variety of outboard mic pres but always returning and summing through the XL Desk,” White recalls. “As far as using it as returns while I was tracking, I loved the easy availability of the bus compressor. When we started looking at SSL consoles for Studio A, having used the XL Desk for a year, I felt really comfortable with the sound I’d been getting.”
White says of the newer console: “I love the way it feels like a traditional analogue desk, where everything is primarily accessible right on the channel strips instead of going back and forth to the centre section. The filter is right there, and I love how easy it is to flip around the signal flow as far as where the EQs are landing relative to the insert points. It’s really intuitive and comfortable to work on. I love working on it, and it sounds great, too.”
Specifically, he says: “The console mic pres sound excellent. I’ve used them for 80 per cent of my work since we’ve been open. They’re perfect for the orchestral tracking we’re doing.” Occasionally, White adds, he will select the alternate Variable Harmonic Drive (VHD) mic preamp circuit. “I think it’s cool the way it affects the transients and smooths out the front edge. I use it on drums fairly regularly.”
Freelance recording and mixing engineer Michael Greene primarily works out of Studio C, which accommodates immersive IMAX 12.0 and Dolby Atmos 7.1.4 mixing projects as well as overdubbing, using its associated iso booth, equipped with a Yamaha grand piano, or tielines from The Stage. Greene’s large-scale tracking projects in Studio A have included jazz records as well as film and video game scores.
“I’ve done a couple of jazz records that were tracked live off the floor where I’ve done a live mix back into Pro Tools. Most of the time that’s the mix that gets released. Part of that is budget, but part of it is because it just sounds great,” he says. “The overall sonics really work for me. The console sounds super warm and clear. It has a lot of warmth and bigness, but it still has a lot of clarity, without being harsh.”
As for some of his favourite features, says Greene: “I love having filters and EQs on every channel, and that when I put them in, they just sound great. And I like the flexibility of being able to build multiple cue mixes for the players with a minimum amount of fuss.”
Both engineers also enjoy working with the Pro-Station, a version of Duality that offers an alternate centre section lay-out, wrapping the two bays of 24-channels around the operator. “The HUI integration in the Duality is spectacular,” says Greene. “I don’t even realise or ever feel like I’m using HUI protocol, which I couldn’t say when I have used it with other control surfaces. It’s really bullet-proof and integrated in a way that’s really stable and effective.”
He continues: “I’ve done plenty of projects where I’m treating the console as a summing mixer, balancing and doing levels inside Pro Tools. The fact that I can switch to the HUI layer and immediately and articulately grab my balances is a beautiful feature of this console that I can’t say was implemented as accurately in other consoles.”
“It’s great the way that HUI is available on those soft encoders above the analogue faders, so you can flip it and vice versa. The easy availability of the analogue faders and the DAW control is excellent,” agrees White. “And it fits beautifully with the ergonomics of the control room. It looks really clean in here. You can move the DAW monitor back out of the way or bring it right in front of your face. It’s really comfortable.”
Studio A’s control room offers a vast selection of outboard equipment and a comprehensive microphone locker. “I had 110 mic preamps before we bought the Duality,” reports Funk, “as well as different compression and EQ options.”
Newer pieces including nearfield monitors, cabling and other items were acquired through Performance Audio in Salt Lake City. “They have been great friends over the years and have always supported me in my craziness,” he says. Gadget Hopkins, executive vice president at Westlake Pro in Los Angeles, also supported the new build-out. “Westlake held our hand through the whole construction period. That’s how I met Jerry Steckling,” says Funk.
“Jerry has made something stunning and beautiful with both the control room and the studio,” says Greene. “Jim and Jerry have built a really special room, one of those rare rooms where everything shines and sounds beautiful.”
7th May 2020
One-of-a-kind visuals with Elation and ADJ at Dance Studio Vol. 1
USA – Dance Studio Vol. 1 is the latest addition to the nightlife scene in Chicago’s River North neighbourhood and is one of the most unique clubs found anywhere. Filling the ceiling above its dance floor are an astounding 470 ADJ mirror balls, both static and kinetic, that mix with Elation Professional DARTZ 360 and Fuze Wash Z120 moving heads for a light show that is a visual one of a kind.
The new nightclub and event space, a renovation of a previous club that closed in early 2019, is a 350-capacity venue that hosts live music, DJs and other entertainment. Chicago-based AV design and integration company Craft Lighting was tasked with designing, installing and commissioning the space and came up with an immersive and nostalgic yet distinctly modern concept that goes beyond the nightclub’s second-floor dance area to include the outer alley, hallway, and stairwell.
Noah Craft, owner and lead designer at Craft Lighting, explains the Elation fixtures’ role in the new design. “My colleague and business partner Jason Reberski at JRLX was a huge proponent of the DARTZ / Fuze combo,” he says, adding that their companies have been increasingly collaborating on projects over the past few years. “I had seen both fixtures a few times at trade shows and demos and was very impressed. The previous iteration of this venue (Studio Paris) had a lighting package that mostly consisted of Elation fixtures, which served them well over its eight-year lifespan so the owners were happy that we specified an Elation moving light package.”
Craft says the DARTZ fixtures were a no-brainer to specify as the main workhorse for the dance floor lighting system. “Their speed, rich feature set, and astounding output are unparalleled from a fixture of their size and price point. They were a perfect fit for this project.” The compact LED beam/spot moving heads with powerful narrow beam output are mounted in a pair of concentric circles above the dance floor, which, with their dual prisms, frost and continuous pan/tilt, enable them to create an endless array of unique looks and effects.
Craft says the Fuze Wash Z120 single-source RGBW moving heads are an excellent complement to the DARTZ fixtures with their excellent output, colour and zoom range. “In addition to their use as dance lights, the private events team loves these fixtures for their ability to provide attractive adjustable 'pin-spotting' that their clients may require on food stations or activations,” he says.
In addition to the DARTZ and Fuze fixtures, Elation Protron 3K Color LED strobes and Cuepix Blinder WW2s round out the dance floor lighting package. “We were very familiar with the WW2 blinders from many past projects but this was our first experience with the new strobes,” Craft comments. “Our client loves the rich colours and their ability to hold on at high intensity, flooding the room with saturated colour. We shot them out against their older LED strobes and were astonished at the output.” He says the client immediately ordered six to replace the old strobes.
The eye-catching looks the club can get from the fixtures in their own right are spectacular, but when interacting with some 470 mirror balls the multiple beam barrage is simply breathtaking. Craft remarks that when the client requested they fill the dance floor with hundreds of mirror balls as opposed to the originally specified single central mirror ball, it gave them the opportunity to use the moving light package in even more creative and unexpected ways. He concludes, “We have had nothing but positive feedback from our client, operation staff and clients about the visual impact and reliability of the Elation products used on this project.”
4th May 2020
SQ-5 Helps East Leeds FM Keep a Distance and Stay Close
UK – Playing a vital role in keeping its listeners connected during the Coronavirus lockdown, community radio station, East Leeds FM’s newly created remote broadcasting set-up has an Allen & Heath SQ-5 at its heart.
Although created as an Internet broadcaster, East Leeds FM identified a need to provide information, advice and company over FM radio to vulnerable older residents without Internet access. The station quickly secured a temporary FM licence and created a new daily show, Keeping a Distance, Staying Close. With presenters and technicians unable to access the station’s regular home at the Chapel FM arts centre in Leeds, since March, it fell to volunteer and former BBC sound engineer, Phil Driscoll to devise a solution for recording and broadcasting the show.
Phil’s office has become the nerve centre of the organisation, handling the live broadcast, external presenters, contributors and interviewees, along with playout of pre-recorded material and jingles. An Allen & Heath SQ-5 console, originally purchased for recording brass band performances, is now moonlighting as a broadcast console, mixing the main programme, handling talkback and managing clean feed cue sends to remote contributors.
“The SQ-5 has performed flawlessly. The flexibility of the routing and the multiple mixes has meant that I can configure it to behave like a radio desk, even though it wasn't designed as one,” comments Phil. “The trickiest challenge was setting up individual talkbacks to each outside source so that I can talk to contributors without disturbing the presenters on air. With some inspired help from the A&H community forum, I arrived at a solution using mute groups on softkeys which gives me an individual talkback button for each remote source.”
A ZED-420 console is used as the main output desk, with its USB output driving the station’s FM transmitter and webcast. Three smaller studios are set up in presenters’ homes, including one employing a ZED-14 mixer for pre-recording content.
Following the success of Keeping a Distance, Staying Close, East Leeds FM has equipped an additional remote studio with an SQ-5 to broadcast youth-oriented evening shows.
1st May 2020
TCU’s Horned Frogs Take a Major Leap in Sound with L-Acoustics
USA – For fans of Texas Christian University’s (TCU) Horned Frogs football team, this school year’s Big 12 conference football season was bigger and bolder than ever thanks to the kickoff of a $118M expansion of the Fort Worth campus’ Amon G. Carter Stadium. Among its many improvements, the first phase of this multi-year initiative notably involved a significant upgrade of the nearly 50,000-capacity stadium’s video and audio facilities, including a new L-Acoustics K1/Kara loudspeaker system designed and installed by local integrator Electro Acoustics (EA).
According to EA account manager Ryan Walker, who has been with the firm for 20 years, the project actually marked the second L-Acoustics system to be installed on TCU’s campus. In 2015, the company installed a highly effective Kara loudspeaker system paired with SB18i subs at the school’s Garvey-Rosenthal Soccer Stadium, home to the popular Lady Frogs women’s soccer team.
“After discussions with Ryan and Chris [Jordan, EA president], as well as our own experience with L-Acoustics at our soccer venue, we knew it would be the right choice for our football stadium,” says TCU senior associate athletic director T. Ross Bailey, who also overseas facilities and operations.
When the university revealed that it would be installing a much larger 5,500-square-foot video display at the top of the north end-zone seating section at “The Carter,” the Electro Acoustics team reached out to L-Acoustics sports facilities application manager Gino Pellicano for product guidance and Soundvision design assistance.
“Working to maximum height requirements, the new video board, a massive 100+ feet wide and nearly 50 feet tall, took most of the space, leaving less than 12 vertical feet to hang our loudspeaker arrays in the area above the display,” Walker recalls. “With such tight space constraints, we needed a fairly compact loudspeaker system that could still throw 500 feet and push 95 to 98dB at that distance when needed. Gino suggested that we use the K1, which to my knowledge is the only solution on the market that could check off each of those required boxes for us.”
EA systems designer Steve Burge worked with Pellicano on the design of the football stadium’s new system, which currently features three centrally positioned K1 arrays each comprised of six enclosures firing down the field to cover the far southern half of the bowl. To address the fans on the closer northern half, a total of 16 smaller Kara enclosures were also flown directly above the video board. These were divided into arrays of seven, five, and four enclosures, tailored to the unique heights of the nearby seating stands. Dual hangs of five SB28 subs are flown behind the centre K1 array for LF impact, and all of the arrays are visually concealed behind a scrim emblazoned with the home team’s moniker.
On the underside of the display, six short-throw X12 enclosures provide downfill coverage to the areas in the shadow of the video board. Furthermore, twelve LA12X and seven LA4X amplified controllers power the entire loudspeaker complement, which is also networked via a new Milan-compliant P1 AVB processor.
With the new sound system commissioned and ready for the Horned Frogs’ season opener in late August of 2019, Walker notes that the sonic improvement was immediately apparent, even to untrained ears. “Everyone notices the clarity of the L-Acoustics system, which is so much better than what was in there previously,” he says. “The funny thing is that everyone thinks that this system is louder than the old one. It’s certainly capable of being much louder, but they’re now averaging between 88 and 90dB for games, which is actually quieter than they ran their old rig. Plus, the comment that I’ve heard over and over is, ‘I can finally understand what the announcers and refs are saying!’.”
TCU’s Bailey echoes Walker’s sentiments. “I would say that the sound is clearer without having to be louder, and that’s a big improvement for our fan base,” he notes.
Although Pellicano confirmed that the Soundvision model predictions very accurately matched the performance of the real-world system, Walker also verified those results with his own ears. “I was very surprised and impressed with how even and consistent the sound is throughout the entire stadium,” Walker shares. “The transition between the Kara and K1 coverage areas is so smooth that it’s almost imperceptible, even when you’re listening for the changeover. We had a very similar positive experience when we installed a K2 system at the new Dickies Arena here in town last year, and now two of Fort Worth’s premier venues have premium L-Acoustics solutions for an enhanced audience experience.”
29th April 2020
Elation Fuze value for CC de Warandepoort Theatre
Belgium – CC de Warandepoort Theatre in Tervuren, Belgium, near Brussels, took delivery of Elation Fuze Profile luminaires shortly before performance venues went dark in March and look forward to using the new full-colour framing moving heads on a variety of productions once the theatre can again welcome patrons to its stage.
Warandepoort Theatre is a 370-seat performance arts venue and the cultural centre of the municipality of Tervuren, presenting both modern and classic theatre, concerts, comedy, dance, film, and the occasional corporate or community event. Although many of the productions the theatre hosts carry their own equipment, according to Alexander Remmerswaal, technician at the theatre, many do not. “When that is the case, we are glad to step in with technical support by providing our own equipment,” he says, clarifying that there is little budget for renting in gear. “We have wash fixtures in the rig but needed a fixture with breakup gobos to complement those so I started looking around at expos at the different possibilities.”
Alexander quickly fell upon Elation Professional and discussions with Elation key account manager for Benelux, Bert Schmeits, began. Together, over the course of several trade shows, Bert and Alexander considered which Elation products best suited their applications. “Alexander was looking for a high-quality profile moving head with framing shutters,” Bert recalls. “He also needed a fixture with variable colour temperature with a high CRI value so that the spots can be used universally, also as front light. As we had just launched the Fuze Profile and it fulfilled his main requirements, I suggested it to him.”
Nevertheless, in order to make the best choice, Alexander independently invited various brands for an on-location demo at the theatre. In the end, two brands survived, which Alexander then wanted to assess side by side in a shoot-out. “We hung them next to each other and let them do the same thing at the same time,” he recounts. “They were quite similar with only slight feature differences. The quality was the same and the weight nearly identical, but the price of the Elation unit was much better. When we saw the value we would be getting, we really couldn’t choose anything else.”
The most important features, says Alexander, besides the profile framing requirement with breakup gobo function, were a wide zoom, a nice dimming curve, and a small and light weight design. “Another big plus with the Fuze Profile is the power link out,” which he says can be hard to find on profile and spot fixtures. “For us, that is a big plus because we will hang them and then take them down on a consistent basis. The cabling is most of the work so if we can just link them through, that makes setup and tear down much faster and saves an amazing amount of time.”
The Fuze Profile fixtures will fulfil a number of lighting roles at the theatre depending on the production, but typical use will be as effect light and backlight with some productions using them for frontlight as well. Although the Fuze Profiles will reside permanently at Warrandepoort Theatre, they were delivered with flight cases so they can take the units with them when they stage productions at one of their other locations, which Alexander says they do about once a year. “I actually did have the chance to add them briefly to a show just before we shut down,” he discloses. “We used them as all around backlight with a breakup pattern onstage, which made the scene a bit more interesting to look at. That was a nice start but I look forward to when we can use the fixture’s full functionality.”
Lighting and sound supplier Sotesa, a company the theatre regularly works with, supplied the Fuze fixtures. “We really like to work with them as they are very professional,” Alexander concludes. “Delivery was super fast. In fact, we had them already a week after ordering!”