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Starlight Express Celebrates 25th Anniversary With Martin Audio MLA Compact

When the updated production of Starlight Express opened at Bochum, Germany’s Stadionring—celebrating 25 years since its premiere performance at the specially constructed ‘Starlight Express Theater’ in 1988—it featured Martin Audio’s award-winning Multi-cellular Loudspeaker Array (MLA) platform for the first time.

Advertising itself as “the fastest musical in the universe” it fell to sound supervisor Riccardo van Krugten and system engineer/installation manager, Georg Hentschel to supercharge the next generation production while remaining faithful to Martin Levan’s original sound design.

Hentschel was already familiar with Martin Audio’s pioneering system, since his company (LiveAudio) has owned an MLA rig since May 2011. He later attended the world launch of the second-generation MLA Compact in London, and it is the smaller system that his company has now installed for this production.

Overseeing the sound in Bochum since early 2010, Riccardo van Krugten was eager that the production remained faithful to a single system to cope with the fast roller skating action. “We wanted a stereo set-up for the orchestra, and a separate system for vocals, positioned above the main performance area,” he said. “This required a PA solution that would reproduce music and vocals equally well.” Another issue was the need to reduce spill and crosstalk from the PA speakers into the 25 fast moving Microport headsets.

Since the new production promised “to take audio engineering to the highest level”, van Krugten knew that today’s audience expectation is far greater than it was two decades ago. He was also mindful of past complaints concerning vocal intelligibility and clarity in parts of the auditorium. “And so we searched for a system that would provide even coverage for all seats in the house, maintaining frequency response and sound levels.”

That search began after Andreas Karsten had produced a 3D EASE model of the Starlight Express Theater. Said Riccardo, “We ran various simulations with the existing speakers and looked at the problems. Then we ran the same simulations with a two conventional line array rigs at different positions to identify whether a line source solution could be used in this situation, before inviting nine manufacturers for two shoot out sessions.”

Atlantic Audio, Martin Audio’s German distributor, organized the hardware and crew for this shoot out, which took place in front of the full production team, including Phil Edwards, the musical supervisor from England.

To thoroughly evaluate the competing systems, Riccardo prepared a file in ProLogic containing samples from the show (and other vocal recordings of different tonalities), as well as music that everyone would recognize. “For the second half of the session we had the Starlight rhythm section and three cast members perform live from different positions on stage,” he said. “In two shoot out sessions, we heard nine different (mono) arrays rigged side by side. The MLA Compact never left any doubt it would handle reliably whatever kind of audio we threw at it.”

As a result, 27 MLA Compacts have been divided into three flown L/C/R arrays of nine elements each, along with three DSX subs ground stacked left and right of the stage. This is designed to cover the entire auditorium including the balcony and the middle sub on each side is reversed to produce a cardioid pattern. The subs are set unconventionally just outside the left and right array —stacked on the middle track level a few meters above the ground—and are sunk into the proscenium wall, via a specially-designed setup.

A pair of Martin Audio W8VDQ hybrid boxes provide outfill coverage extension of the center array, while production rigged a so-called ‘crossfire’ system, so that those sitting at the sides of the auditorium would also receive a stereo orchestra image.

Georg Hentschel explained, “Starlight has a large cast equipped with omnidirectional lavalier mics who constantly move around the set on three levels behind the speakers and also in front of the PA, often directly facing the arrays. During one particular scene, six highly amplified singers are elevated directly behind the center array, which mainly handles vocals. The amazing reduction in backspill of the MLA Compact masters these challenges in a very impressive way. The other aspect, of course, is MLA’s outstanding tonal quality.“

Hentschel set ‘Hard Avoid’ for the areas behind the arrays where there is a lot of singer traffic as well as to the areas underneath the speaker systems. Further back down the auditorium, the problems become even more complex, with two tracks running right through the audience, who are seated on different levels. Finally, there is a balcony and several rows of seating at both side walls that need to be covered.

“I challenged the system with various optimizations to achieve the best solution, and it has really delivered; we were able to solve many problems with MLA’s advanced technology, and it was absolutely the right system for the job,” he said.

And Riccardo van Krugten also commends the seamless swap-over between old and new sound systems. “The transition was smoother than expected. We knew it would be a whole new world for the performers. Part of the new concept was to reposition and reuse some of the old PA speakers for monitoring purposes, and that idea played out really well. All in all, I believe we have respected Martin Levan’s clever original sound design by replacing existing components with more advanced technology.”

Head of sound in Bochum is Jürgen Janßen, who mixed all the shows during the process of changing over the sound system, while Riccardo created the matrix layout and Georg took care of the necessary programming and alignment. Throughout the process Atlantic Audio coordinated between Martin Audio and the production team.

For more about Martin Audio and MLA, please click to www.martin-audio.com

Photo credit: Jens Hauer

SES Supports The Avett Brothers With Martin Audio MLA

SES (Special Event Services) of Winston Salem and Nashville recently supported the popular Avett Brothers on the first leg of their world tour with a Martin Audio MLA System 36 loudspeaker system.

Describing how SES became involved with the tour, Michael Brammer, SES Director of Touring Operations stated, “We did a trial show at the beginning of the tour, and due to the success of the MLA and the overwhelming positive fan response, the band decided to take us on the road. The band went from a bus and trailer to three trucks virtually overnight, in part because they fell in love with the Martin Audio MLA system.”

The Avett Brothers are led by Scott and Seth Avett on vocals and a variety of stringed and percussion instruments, along with Bob Crawford (double bass), Joe Kwon (cello) and Mike Marsh (drums). With several chart albums including I and Love and You (2009), The Carpenter (2012) and the upcoming Magpie and the Dandelion, they combine an eclectic mix of bluegrass, country, punk, pop, folk, rock and roll, honky-tonk and ragtime into solid original songs that have gotten Bob Dylan’s attention, among others.

With stops in Canada and Europe before wrapping up in the US this Fall, the Avetts headlined “The Carpenter” tour with acts such as The Old Crow Medicine Show and Grace Potter and the Nocturnals opening for them in a mix of amphitheatres, arenas and theaters including two sold out nights at Red Rocks.

In order to cover the crowds that averaged from 10 to 12,000 with a bump to 18,000 at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena, SES deployed a loudspeaker system consisting of 11 MLA enclosures and one MLD downfill cabinet per side along with six MLX ground-stacked subs per side. They also used an Avid Profile for FOH and a DiGiCo SD-9 for Monitors. When The Avett Brothers return for the final US leg, they will play larger arenas, so SES plans to add MLA Compact speakers for outfill to increase the coverage area.

Asked how MLA performed during the tour, Michael responded, “Their FOH Engineer Justin Glanville really likes the dynamic range and stereo imaging of the MLA system as The Avett Brothers are a very complex band. They play a variety of instruments and exchange them from song to song, so there’s a constant circle around the stage. The show ranges from very energetic moments down to just two guys singing into one microphone acoustically. It’s a very dynamic show and MLA really responds well to it.

“The coverage has been uniformly excellent in all kinds of venues, and MLA doesn’t take long to set up. In fact, Andrew Steelman, our Systems Tech was able to fly it in the morning and have Justin behind the console by lunchtime. The MLA system really has given us everything we’ve needed and more from a loudspeaker rig.”

For more about SES, please click to www.specialeventservices.com

For more about Martin Audio, please click to www.martin-audio.com.

Hillsong UNITED Brings “WELCOMEZION” Tour to U.S. on K1

Hillsong UNITED performing on K1/KARA at the Hollywood Bowl

Mid-America Sound deploys full L-ACOUSTICS system for international worship group

INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana — Hillsong UNITED, the chart-topping worship band that rose out of the youth ministry of Sydney, Australia’s Hillsong Church, recently wrapped up a U.S. summer arena tour in support of its 12th and latest full-length album, ZION. The outing, known as “WELCOMEZION”, picks back up with a second three-week leg of North American dates in November and will continue to be supported by Greenfield, Indiana-based Mid-America Sound, which has been supplying an L-ACOUSTICS K1 system for the tour. more

UCLA’s Historic Pauley Pavilion Upgrades With HARMAN’s BSS Audio and JBL Loudspeakers

NORTHRIDGE, California – Building on the rich heritage of UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion and providing a new level of entertainment for students and fans, Los Angeles-based Pro Sound & Video recently upgraded the audio system, part of a $125 million renovation to the arena. Acoustic Dimensions served as acoustical consultant for the project, which includes HARMAN’s JBL Professional Precision Directivity™ (PD) series loudspeakers, BSS Audio Soundweb London signal processing and Crown CTs Series amplifiers.

Pauley Pavilion, which opened in 1965, is the on-campus home court to the UCLA Bruins men’s basketball, gymnastics and volleyball programs, as well as a campus landmark which played host to the 1984 Olympics, a 1988 presidential debate and renowned entertainers including Frank Sinatra. With 38 NCAA championship teams across the various programs, the venue’s history speaks for itself.

The design process was conducted over a 20-month period, while the renovation included the addition of modern amenities with a new center-hung video display and new speaker system for the arena seating, concourses and restrooms, with AV systems for the new team meeting room, player lounges and Stadium Club.

The total installation included eight JBL PD5212/64 loudspeakers for main long throw, eight PD5212/64 loudspeakers for main short throw arrayed above the four corners of the scoreboard and 32 AM7212/95 main delay loudspeakers installed in a delay ring around the arena seating, underneath the upper seating level. Additionally, two VP7212MDP floor monitor speakers were provided for courtside use, 29 Control 26CT ceiling loudspeakers installed in the arena’s premier seating Pavilion Club, and 30 Control 24CT MicroPlus compact in-ceiling speakers installed in the writing and press area of the arena.

“We have used the JBL PD5000 series boxes on previous projects and like the way it sounds. With its tonal quality and high output capability we determined it was a good design choice. Add to that fact that JBL’s headquarters are right down the street from the University, we knew that it was the right speaker for the arena” explained Brian Elwell, Senior Consultant and VP of Acoustic Dimensions.

A total of three Crown CTs600 amplifiers power the systems 70V speakers, with an array of BSS BLU-800, BLU-160, BLU-16 and BLU-32 being used for digital signal processing as well as a BLU-10 controller for level control and mutes of the various speaker systems.

“This was a fairly simple system to install, except for one main challenge,” explained Joe Byrne, Operations Manager, Pro Sound & Video. “With trapezoid cabinets such as the PD loudspeakers, it made it difficult to hang the boxes from the stadium roof. There is no easy way to have the speakers seismically arrested and would have required a huge amount of wired rope installed between the speakers and the ceiling. It looked chaotic on paper.”

“We needed a ridged frame system to cut back on the wire strung in the rafters so we developed a square structural steel frame in which the loudspeakers could hang inside and be seismically arrested to the frame itself,” Byrne said.

With the addition of a large new ribbon and LED scoreboard, the sonic quality of the JBL PD Series loudspeakers complemented the system quite well. “With a ring of delay speakers underneath the upper seating level, the coverage is great,” Byrne continued.

The great longstanding relationship between Pro Sound and HARMAN gave Byrne and his team the confidence in installing a full JBL, and BSS Audio system. “We’ve never had any issues with the audio system when we know we have HARMAN products deployed. With years of experience, we know that the system will be reliable and help reinforce the UCLA tradition within the arena.”

For more information on Pro Sound & Video, please visit: http://www.prosound.net/

For more information on Acoustic Dimensions, please visit: http://www.acousticdimensions.com/

HARMAN (www.HARMAN.com) designs, manufactures, and markets a wide range of infotainment and audio solutions for the automotive, consumer, and professional markets. It is a recognized world leader across its customer segments with premium brands including AKG®, Harman Kardon®, Infinity®, JBL®, Lexicon®, and Mark Levinson® and leading-edge connectivity, safety and audio technologies. The company is admired by audiophiles across multiple generations and supports leading professional entertainers and the venues where they perform. More than 25 million automobiles on the road today are equipped with HARMAN audio and infotainment systems. HARMAN has a workforce of about 14,000 people across the Americas, Europe, and Asia and reported sales of $4.3 billion for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2013.

New Orleans’ Civic Theatre Returns to Duty with L-ACOUSTICS

Solomon Group installs KIVA-KILO rig at historic theatre and adds KARA to personal rental inventory

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana — Following an extensive nine-month, $10.5M renovation project, the Civic Theatre, the oldest surviving theatre building in New Orleans, has officially reopened its doors after sitting dormant for more than three decades. To bring the 107-year-old, 15,000-square-foot performance venue up to today’s production standards, Solomon Group, a new L-ACOUSTICS Certified Provider for install and rental markets, specified and integrated a KIVA-KILO loudspeaker system into the space. more

Esteemed Cleveland Church Opens a New Chapter with VARIA

Cleveland, OH – August 2013… Roots run deep at Olivet Institutional Baptist Church, a cornerstone of Cleveland community and worship since 1931. Over the years, the church’s pulpit has played host to such luminaries as the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, Vice President Al Gore, and TV talk show host Oprah Winfrey.

But this congregation with a strong sense of tradition is equally forward-thinking. The church’s 1,500-seat sanctuary, constructed in 1954, recently underwent an in-depth renovation, enhancing sound and vision with the addition of HD cameras, a switcher, and large-scale video screens, as well as a new Renkus-Heinz VARIA modular point source loudspeaker system.

As Tom George, Director of Installations for installer Eighth Day Sound, explains, the sound reinforcement aspect of the project presented some unique challenges. “Although the exterior of the building has a peaked roof, the sanctuary’s ceiling is flat, and relatively low – only around 25 feet in height. So going with a traditional line array would have created line-of-sight issues. Moreover, we were faced with a 400-pound weight restriction, which made the design even more problematic.”

With a need to ensure musicality for both its traditional gospel choir and plugged-in bands, as well as high intelligibility for all spoken aspects of the program, VARIA’s feature set seemed a good fit for the large, acoustically challenging space. With VARIA’s modular and flexible enclosures, Eighth Day could create a system to deliver the coverage of a traditional line array, but using fewer cabinets, thereby decreasing weight, visual impact, and cost.

The flown system consists of six VAX 101-7/6 (7.5 degree), two VAX101-22/69, and two VAX101-22 912 VARIA loudspeakers. The result is powerful, even coverage across the congregation’s main floor and balcony, from the front rows to the rear wall 100 feet away.

“When we listened to the box, we were convinced,” says George. “VARIA met the challenge – it delivered the coverage we needed, along with the power and performance. It looks great, and it sounds great.”

Olivet’s recent improvements mark Phase One of their in-depth renovation, with improved lighting and Web streaming next on the agenda. Through it all, elevating the live sound experience has been key for the Cleveland church.

“Olivet wants to reach younger people – they understand that the demographic is changing and a more contemporary worship style is a big part of that,” Tom George says. “VARIA was the perfect solution for this congregation’s message and their music.”

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Headquartered in Foothill Ranch, California, Renkus-Heinz, Inc. is the worldwide leader in the design and manufacture of audio operations networks, digitally steerable arrays, powered and non-powered loudspeakers, system specific electronics and fully integrated Reference Point Array systems.

ACIR Professional Buys Building, Expands Space

Mays Landing, N.J.—Summer continues to be busy for the staff at ACIR Professional with shows in Cape May, the Count Basie Theatre, Ocean Grove, New York City, along with support of audio and backline for Atlantic City and surrounding areas, all as the company’s installation business continues to grow.

Perhaps the biggest news for ACIR this is summer is that they recently purchased a building in Mays Landing, New Jersey, a stones-throw away from the old location in Egg Harbor Township. Realizing their dream of expansion and growth, the company outgrew their lease space and made the move to purchase a building with additional room to grow.

In a joint statement, the three owners Ed DiBona, John Grasso, and Tom Young said, “Our new space enables us to further our customer service and support as we continue to purchase the gear needed to fulfill our clients’ requirements.”

ACIR’s new address is 1421 Cantillon Boulevard, Mays Landing, NJ 08330. The company phone number remains the same: (609) 677-5500).

For more information, visit www.ACIRpro.com.

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PHOTO CREDIT: Digital Warmth

L-ACOUSTICS ARCS WIDE Fills In Grand Canyon University Arena

Clearwing supplies fixed ARCS WIDE system for ‘Lopes basketball games and touring KARA system for concert reinforcement

PHOENIX, Arizona — When Grand Canyon University’s Antelopes men’s and women’s basketball teams joined the Western Athletic Conference this summer and upgraded to Division I, GCU Arena was in need of a sound system retrofit worthy of the new division level. To accommodate, GCU turned to the local Phoenix office of Clearwing Productions, which provided two independent L-ACOUSTICS ARCS WIDE and KARA loudspeaker systems for the 5,000-seat multipurpose venue. more

3G Productions Expands LA Facility, Strengthens Sales Team in Southern CA

Devon Murray

Las Vegas, NV––3G Productions, Inc. has expanded its presence in Southern California with a larger Los Angeles facility and a new Director of Business Development and Sales, Devon Murray, who will spearhead the company’s growth and sales in the market.

Located just south of downtown Los Angeles, 3G’s facility now has more than twice the warehouse space of its predecessor and is centrally located to major live production and corporate events, touring and dance festival venues in the Southern California area.

Highly experienced in all aspects of live production, Murray joins 3G after an eight-year stint as Senior Production Manager for STAPLES CENTER/AEG where he was responsible for production and management for all events at the arena in Los Angeles.

Commenting on his new appointment, Murray said, “I’m elated to join the talented team at 3G. I was always impressed with the quality of the engineers, products and work when they produced events at the Staples Center. I see tremendous growth potential in 3G, particularly in LA, and my goal is to continue to build on top of the solid business foundation 3G has already created.”

Asked about the hire, 3G owner and Vice President Jay Curiel added, “We’re excited to have Devon join our sales team. His vast experience and knowledge in the industry will translate into new and exciting growth opportunities for 3G in Southern California as we emphasize our commitment to service this market.”

Known for its fresh perspective, engaged engineers and exceptional customer service, 3G has distinguished itself with its ability to provide the high quality audio and communications for everything from the largest dance festivals and tours to their increased focus on corporate and TV/film broadcast events while maintaining the dominant role in live event production and touring that has been their mainstay.

For more about 3G Productions, please call 702.948.0459 or click to www.3glp.com

About 3G Productions, Inc.
Founded in 2004, 3G Productions, Inc. is a multifaceted audio company focused on providing the highest quality of service in live production, sound equipment rental, sales, and installed sound. Located in Las Vegas and Los Angeles, the company operates through two divisions: Live and Pro Audio.

VARIA Packs a Punch at De Grote Post

Oostende, Belgium – August 2013… The Oostende Post Office, the only public building designed by famed Ghent architect Gaston Eysselinck, has been recognized as one of the finest architectural creations of Belgium’s postwar period. In 1981 the modernist style building was granted status as a protected monument. When the Post Office moved out in 1999, B-Architects, under the direction of Dirk Engelen, undertook the massive challenge of creating multiple modern theaters and performance spaces inside, while respecting the venue’s design ethos. The result is De Grote Post, a multi-purpose performing arts center unlike any other.

The main hall seats 431, and is designed for music, dance or traditional theatre performances. Acoustical designer Paul Mees of Daidalos Peutz worked with B-Architects to create the venue’s distinctive triangular acoustic panels, accented by neon tubes. The result is an eye-catching décor from any seat.

Designed by Marc Lambert of Gent-based theatre design group TTAS, the audio systems for De Grote Post boast the first European installation of the new VARIA modular point source line array from Renkus-Heinz. Four VARIA VA101 cabinets are hung per side, each array consisting of two VA101-7 7.5-degree cabinets, one VA101-15 15-degree box, and one VA101-22 22.5-degree box. A center cluster of two 22.5-degree cabinets augments coverage, along with a third cabinet ground stacked atop two VA15S subwoofers. Four TRX61 loudspeakers provide front fill for the first few rows.

As Steven Kemland, Sales and Project Manager of Foundation for Audiovisual Commerce and Engineering (FACE) explains, VARIA was ideal for the venue’s challenging spaces. “Most of the systems we looked into would have required many more cabinets to provide even coverage across the entire seating area,” he says. “The VARIA’s variable coverage patterns enabled us to configure a system with fewer boxes than a traditional line array. It’s very compact and yet it sounds like a much larger system.” Sam Serruys, technical director of De Grote Post adds, “The results we have achieved with a system using 10 inch drivers is truly remarkable.”

The smaller theatre is a more compact room, with the floor on hydraulic lifts, enabling it to be split into four separate areas, enabling artists to configure the venue to suit a wide range of performances and creations. The room is outfitted with a ground stacked system with left and right stacks of two VA15S subs, topped by 22.5 degree and 7 degree cabinets. In addition, TTAS also specified mobile setups that could be mixed and matched to meet a wide range of program needs, from the smaller impromptu performance spaces to the larger outdoor courtyard. Here, FACE’s recommendation of the Renkus-Heinz CF-101 point source line array system fit the bill perfectly. FACE also provided Avid SC48 digital consoles for the stages, as well as Behringer X32 mixers for the mobile setups. Microphones are a traditional mix of Shure, Audio Technica and Sennheiser, with additional system components by Radial, Omnicase, DPA, XTA, Powersoft, and ASL Intercom.

Kemland also gives the nod to FACE project engineers Stijn Vermeiren and Jeroen Willems, who completed the entire project from order to sound check, in less than four weeks’ time. De Grote Post director Stefan Tanghe says: “Oostende has long needed a performance space for smaller performances and exhibitions, as well as providing gallery space. Along with the large Het Kursaal theatre nearby, our city can now offer national and international artists the state of the art facilities they expect to find.”

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Headquartered in Foothill Ranch, California, Renkus-Heinz, Inc. is the worldwide leader in the design and manufacture of audio operations networks, digitally steerable arrays, powered and non-powered loudspeakers, system specific electronics and fully integrated Reference Point Array systems.

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