Historic Colorado Springs Performance Site Gets a Makeover With Meyer Sound

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UPM-1P in the rear wall of the theatre 
"We've just had really good luck with Meyer. The customer support is second to none. We call up Meyer, say 'we've got this project,' and they're right on it, helping us with whatever they can. We take the speakers out of the boxes and they work every time."

- Ken Toal, Project Manager, Audio Analysts

Established in 1936 by local benefactor Alice Bemis Taylor, the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center (CSFAC) has long been a cornerstone of all things artistic in the region. Housing a gallery, artistic and theatrical teaching facilities, and a multi-use performance hall, the center truly provides a bit of everything to this rapidly growing metropolitan area. However, as is often the case with grand old historical buildings, the center's performance space has lately started to show its age, prompting a much-needed remodel project this past summer. For the required sound system work the center needed to look no further than across town to renowned audio firm Audio Analysts (AA), veterans of nationwide commercial, corporate, and worship installations, as well as the force behind the sound systems for such touring acts as Bruce Springsteen, No Doubt, and Norah Jones.

As expected, the job presented a myriad of challenges and difficulties, the largest being the range of events presented in the facility; in any given month, the CSFAC stage hosts conferences, musical acts, full-scale theatrical performances, and film presentations. The AA staff knew that the diverse sound needs of the space called for a system that was both powerful and flexible, so they quickly turned to Meyer Sound, their most frequent audio partner for the past four years. The choice was an easy one, says Ken Toal, AA's project manager for the job. "We've just had really good luck with Meyer," Toal states simply. "The customer support is second to none. We call up Meyer, say 'we've got this project,' and they're right on it, helping us in any way they can. We take the speakers out of the boxes and they work every time."

Since CSFAC is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, AA's crew was highly constrained as to the impact they could have on the building. In addition, the timeframe was limited, so AA's installers were forced to work around several other crews and trades involved in the large-scale remodel, which included a new rear wall, new rigging for the lights and theatrical scenery, new carpeting, replacement seating, and a new boiler for the building. Given the large number of films presented at the CSFAC, management wanted a 5.1 surround sound system integrated within the structure, an ambitious goal that was further complicated by the need to match the acoustics of the newly installed flutter-free rear wall to those of the original African Mahogany wall panels.

In order to accommodate the diverse acoustical needs of the space, Audio Analysts took a "mix-and-match" approach with the equipment used. Two CQ-2 narrow coverage main loudspeakers make up each of the left and right clusters, one CQ-1 wide coverage main loudspeaker for the center channel, two USW-1P compact subwoofers, and two UPM-1P ultra-compact wide coverage loudspeakers for each of the rear left and right positions. Four MM-4 miniature wide-range loudspeakers along the stage lip provide frontfill for the first four rows of seats. Meyer Sound's RMS remote monitoring system is a key tool when the staff reconfigures the system to meet a new presentation's needs.

While the previous system was "a rigging nightmare," the Meyer Sound install was clean and crisp, with no need for rehanging or adjustment of the loudspeakers, according to Toal. "We put (the whole system design) into Meyer's MAPP Online Pro (acoustical prediction program) and (the prediction) was right on the money," he reports. Not only did the accurate predictions preclude the need to tweak the rigging, but tuning the system was also a snap. "We pretty much turned it on, and had to do very, very little EQ," he continues. "I think there were maybe two or three points throughout the whole system (that needed equalization) which is a big testament to Meyer."

With such an easy time installing and tuning the system, the only question left was the only one that matters: does the system do the job the client needs? According to AA chief engineer Bob Langlois, the answer from CSFAC, management was unequivocally positive. "They were just blown away," Langlois enthusiastically asserts. "The CQs sounded incredible, the vocals were right in your face. When the CQs came on, it was like being in recording studio."

February, 2006

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