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Spotlight 29 Casino Hits the Jackpot with Meyer Sound's MICA
A few hundred miles outside Los Angeles on Interstate 10, Joshua trees, tumbleweeds, and lengthy stretches of desert start to outnumber convenient stores, strip malls, and nondescript suburbs by a large margin. With water and livable land at a premium, it's easy to see why the nomadic Chemeheuvi tribe first settled at the Oasis of Twenty-Nine Palms in the mid-1800s (currently the Oasis of Mara at Joshua Tree National Park). Today, this picturesque area, located about 30 minutes from Palm Springs, is home to descendants of the Chemeheuvi tribe, the 29 Palms Band of Mission Indians. Situated on their reservation lands lies an oasis of a different sort: Spotlight 29 Casino, an upscale gaming, dining, and entertainment establishment that donates proceeds to help provide housing, financial aid, and security for the Tribe and its future generations.
Over the last few years, Spotlight 29 has grown to become a first-class destination for A-list entertainment, with such notable guests as Burt Bacharach, comedian David Spade, Drew Carey's Improv All-Stars, the Brian Setzer Orchestra, and The Temptations making recent appearances to their 2,200-seat theatre, the Spotlight Showroom. To ensure that those big-name acts keep filling their calendar, the casino recently finished a complete restoration of the Spotlight Showroom's audio system, which includes a full complement of Meyer Sound products, including the MICA self-powered compact high-power curvilinear array loudspeakers.
Originally, a traditional left-center-right speaker setup powered the Spotlight Showroom. While the system adequately covered spoken word and comedy presentations, it simply could not meet the needs of a top-notch musical act.
The room layout presented acoustical obstacles that further limited sound quality. "The space was not originally planned as a performance hall," says Theo Mack, who heads Spotlight 29's audio department. "It was used for bingo and gaming, and the stage was added later. It's ellipse-shaped, with the stage at one of the wide ends. There's also three-level, stadium-style seating, which is only about 150 feet deep, but with a capacity of about 2,200, it's extremely wide. The ceiling is a relatively low 25 feet, plus the stage is completely hollow underneath, which creates some unique problems with echo when placing the subwoofers nearby."
The previous sound system contained four Meyer Sound UPJ-1P compact VariO loudspeakers for frontfill, so the transition to a full Meyer Sound system was the logical next step. The new system, which was supplied through The Show Factory, Inc., includes a main array of 16 MICA loudspeakers, set up in three zones consisting of three, three, and two boxes per side. Four UPA-1P compact wide coverage loudspeakers support the rear corner delays and supplemental area fill, and three 700-HP ultrahigh-power subwoofers per side handle the low end. The addition of the Galileo digital loudspeaker management system ensures even coverage throughout the Hall.
In addition to assembling a superior Meyer Sound system, extensive planning and acoustical tuning was required to achieve optimum sound quality. "With our old system, one of the most common complaints was the amount of slapback," says Mack. "Essentially the PA bounced off of the rear wall — which is, of course, curved — and the parabolic effect of the curved wall then focused the reflection back onto the stage noticeably. We wanted to point the PA in such a way so that the sound pressure level would taper off just beyond the last row of seats. The shape of the room required some additional fills in the cumbersome areas that would be out of the normal horizontal pattern of the sound system. We also wanted to locate the line array in a place that didn't obscure the audience's sightlines, yet still allowed for optimum coverage."
Mack cites both efficiency and sonic excellence as primary motivating factors when choosing a self-powered array for the Spotlight Showroom. "Having a self-powered system is a definite advantage due to the sonic improvements that you typically get — especially with subwoofers — because the amplification built into the speaker box is typically able to dampen the woofers much better than a separate power amplification rack in a conventionally powered system."
Meyer Sound's MAPP Online Pro software was used to predict system response and placement. "MAPP Online Pro allowed me to see in advance how the sound system would behave in many different configurations—more boxes, less boxes, many different angle changes," says Mack. "Meyer Sound's Technical Support department gave us a full demonstration of the sound system in action. Prior to the sale, they provided an exact rig for us to evaluate. During that demonstration, they showed us ways to arrange the subwoofers on the ground, along with some time alignment correction and phase inversion techniques. This was a great help, as it really reduced the problematic sub-bass contamination we had been experiencing previously. Overall, the demonstration helped us to refine the design and make improvements we hadn't even anticipated were possible with this system."
With a constantly altering lineup that can move from jazz to comedy to rock within the course of one week, the system had to be truly versatile. The Galileo processor allows the audio crew to easily juggle all of these needs with ease. "The Galileo allows us to program and change presets in order to reconfigure the system's performance without having to alter the speaker placement or do a whole lot of equalization," says Mack. "It is so linear out of the box that, with a few exceptions, very little is changed in the Galileo from show to show. We just give the guest engineers a rack with a 31-band equalizer, which covers everything they require. The feedback we've gotten on this system so far is great. Guest engineers are very pleased, and our main sound engineer loves it."
As much as he appreciates the equipment and its smooth operation, though, Mack raves about Meyer Sound's customer support. "The level of support Meyer Sound provided really helped this project come together," he says. "In every stage, the Meyer technical support staff took great care of us. They sent staff out to initialize the system, train our staff on the Galileo processor, and to do some mild tweaks. Touches like that made us feel very comfortable with Meyer. They supported their product readily."