Audio upgrade for Strand Theatre in Georgia

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The Earl and Rachel Smith Strand Theatre in Georgia has upgraded its audio system to solve challenges with acoustics and deliver full, intelligible coverage.

The theatre began its life as a motion picture house in 1935 and was shut in 2002. In 2009 it reopened as a live events venue, following a restoration to its ageing structure. While the renovation upgraded its architecture and aesthetics, the acoustics were not ideal for live performance.

The theatre was not designed in line with traditional acoustical considerations with reverberant surfaces and a uniquely constructed balcony resulted in poor intelligibility across audience positions. After a decade of performances, the Strand Theatre has upgraded its audio system for full coverage.

New equipment

The theatre’s new audio system uses the Renkus-Heinz ICLive X Series, featuring four arrays, each made up of two loudspeakers. The ICLive X Series is a medium-format, steerable line array allowing for sound to be digitally positioned on the audience.

The Earl and Rachel Smith Strand Theatre reopened in 2009 after a restoration that reintroduced red and gold architectural flourishes

The Earl and Rachel Smith Strand Theatre reopened in 2009 after a restoration that reintroduced red and gold architectural flourishes

Denmon Technical Services integrated the new audio system. The company built out the ICLive X arrays in the lower position using an ICLXL module and an ICLLX module. This allows for the device’s high-frequency section to be positioned precisely and offer a longer beam throw. The upper arrays make use of one ICLX and one ICLXL module.

Two Renkus-Heinz CA-82 two-way Complex Conic loudspeakers were also installed. These provide coverage for extreme front fills within 5ft (1.5m) of the front of house. Complex Conic’s constant-directivity waveguide is designed to ensure consistent coverage across a space.

Rounding out the system are four Renkus-Heinz PN212 dual 12in subwoofers, delivering low-frequency impact.

“The community had noticed the sound had been lacklustre for a while,” said James Denmon, owner of Denmon Technical Services. “They’d tried multiple ways to fix it over the years, but it never quite sounded its best. That changed when we brought in a Renkus-Heinz system as a demo. They were very, very surprised by the difference it made.”

Challenges of the space

“The space was challenging because of a very deep under balcony and over balcony,” said Jeremy Alison, president of Alison Technical Concepts and consultant on the project. “We didn’t have much access to the ceiling for rigging, yet we also didn’t want to put traditional speakers all over the place because we wanted to keep the lines clean. We wanted the theatre to look great when we were done. The answer was to work with Renkus-Heinz, not just for the superior sound quality, but for the way the speakers look as well.”

Renkus-Heinz provides custom fabrication of speakers from its facility in Foothill Ranch, California. For this installation the speakers were painted gold and red to blend in aesthetically.

“Now it looks incredible and sounds incredible,” said Alison. “This is the best-sounding system I have heard in a performance theatre in the past five years.”

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Izzy became editor of Auditoria magazine in 2018, having previously served as assistant editor on the title earlier in her career. She is also the editor of Business Jet Interiors International, Railway Interiors International and new launch Cruise Liner Interiors International. Over the course of a decade as a business-to-business magazine editor, Izzy has covered everything from airline catering to car safety technologies, autonomous vehicles and business aviation airports. Outside of work, Izzy loves watercolour painting, live music and travel.

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