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New Audio System for 400 seat theatre

Discussion in 'Sound, Music, and Intercom' started by Felix, Mar 9, 2006.

  1. Felix

    Felix Member

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    Our remodeled 400 seat theatre is currently lacking an audio system. Our budget is $30k installed. So far we've had one company give us a quote, but I feel that they're taking advantage of us and ripping us off. Why do I think that? The subwoofers alone were $7,000. So you can imagine that they went over budget and didn't spec'd much.

    What should i look for in $30k? So far i have down: 32 channel mixer, left right, center cluster, 2 subwoofers (theatre is multi-use, ie concerts and what not). I know we need a whole rack of electronics and mics off the top of my head.
     
  2. AVGuyAndy

    AVGuyAndy Active Member

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    They probably actually spec'd good gear. Are you flying anything, or mounting anything to walls? That's when it gets expensive.
     
  3. the_dude

    the_dude Member

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    How complicated of a space do you have? Multi zone? Do you need to install a paging system as well? What level of concert do you want to be able to handle? Middle school touring acts or national level? 7000 for subs does seem high but if it's including a line array, balcony seating, side fills, and a drum sub, 7k doesn't seem too bad for decent equipment.
     
  4. mbenonis

    mbenonis Wireless Guy Administrator

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    Occupation:
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    One thing to consider is who will be operating the equipment. If you think the users are up to it, you can save a lot of money by buying a digital console - they include EQ and dynamics (compressor/gate) on every channel, thus eliminating the need for them in the rack. Aside from that, you'll need to get a speaker controller, such as the DriveRack, the JBL DSC, or the new one from Lake (not sure abot the cost on the Lake unit). You'll need proper amps and speakers as well. Also, don't forget to factor in the cost of cables (both speaker and mic), microphones, CD players, possible a computer, and the like. Consider whether you need monitor ports on the stage for backstage and onstage monitoring - if you do, make sure you have amps and speakers for them. Finally, factor in the cost of a good wireless system if you foresee needing it. Names to look for here include Lectrosonics, Shure (ULX or UHF-R), and Sennheiser (EW500 or better). Don't go for cheap units; you'll regret it later.

    Since you say the theatre was remodeled, take a look at the old equipment. Things like amps and microphones don't go bad unless they're over 10 years old, so you may be able to save a pertty penny using them instead of buying new.
     
  5. BillESC

    BillESC Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Felix,

    Before being able to give appropiate advise, please give us more detail regarding the physical space. Is it deeper than wide? Is there a balcony? Ceiling height? Wall finishes? etc.

    We recently installed a new sound system in a middle school auditorium that seats 500. The cost was under 10K and we've gotten nothing but raves from the patrons and acts.
     
  6. TassieBogan

    TassieBogan Member

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    yeah, i know the feeling, our theatre is applying for a half million grant from the government very shortly (we only expect to get ~$350,000) and a completely new sound system will be one of the various upgrades to be done. We have a 650 seat theatre (~250 of which are on a balcony). at the moment i'm investigating small line array setups, which i intend to fly from either side of the proscenium arch. A dynacord COBRA setup is also a possibility.

    Other upgrades will include a complete overhaul of our worn out flying system, a harness setup on perches and FOH LX bars, wireless comms etc.

    take a look at this:

    http://www.gtaust.com/articles/images/26_08_04_soundcomp.jpg

    This NEXO line array setup was for a Seekers concert at our local entertainment centre, and believe it or not, each of those speakers is only as big as my forearm. One side of the line array would weigh less than me. And that is a 15000 seat venue!!!!
     
  7. cutlunch

    cutlunch Active Member

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    Felix could you please tell us is this theatre in a school or is it a community theatre.

    If this is a school then I would suggest that one piece of equipment you need is what they call a matrix mixer.

    What these are digital signal processors that are programmed to perform the jobs of different pieces of rack equipment.

    For example at a school I worked at last year they have one. The EQ for the sound system is permanently programmed in. The sound path to the speakers is also programmed in. This includes feeding bi-amped main speakers either side of the proscenium. It also separately provides a full range mono mix that is fed into two freestanding self-powered sub-woofers.

    These mixers have preset buttons that can be programmed to change the configuration. EG one preset sends a copy of the signal from the mixining desk ( you still need a normal mixing desk) to the foyer sound system for overflow and FOH staff.

    Push another preset and the sound picked up by a permanent FOH mike is fed to the Foyer instead. No rewiring needed.

    If you want the matrix can be programmed to provide sound to the dressing rooms. You can even set it so a stage managers announcement will drop the volume automaticaly for cue calls etc.

    Depending on how many channels you have in the matrix mixer you can also set up a microphone input that you can control the level of using a variable resistor wired into the mixer. This signal could be processed if you want eg auto gain control, compression etc.This means you can set the system up so if someone needs a microphone they can operate it themselves without having to go into the booth, if the system has been left on.

    The advantage of this system it is hard for people to stuff it up. They can still mess with the main mixer but if you have set the amplifiers so people can only turn them on/off then the main sound will also be set at it's optium setting especially EQ.

    In general I would try and find an installer with a proven record in your size theatre. Go a long to a theatre where they have set up a system if possible and talk their customers.

    Cutlunch
     
  8. Felix

    Felix Member

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    mbenonis: During the remodel, EVERYTHING was thrown out, even our old lights!

    BillESC: It's.. I don't have the measurements off the top of my head, but it's mlike a giant square... maybe a bit deeper? None of the measurements break 100 feet. No balcony, only a spotlight loft. Ceiling is about 25 feet high, walls are made in a way so they break up sound (good for acoustics) They're masonry, but the back walls and ceilings are acoustically treated. This was done during the remodel.

    cutlunch: This theatre is in a school.

    Budget is $30k for sound. $15k for a 4500 - 5000 lumen ceiling installed projector, wiring, scaler, video runs, and a screen replacement for our 240" motorized screen.
     
  9. BillESC

    BillESC Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    I'd recommend staying with just a center cluster large enough to accomplish the desired maximum SPL levels that might be called for. This will all but eliminate comb filtering making for a much better audio experience.

    Three EV FRi 152/94 will give you an incredibly even coverage for your space, couple this with a Midas or even Verona front end and you're well on the way to a professional level performance space.
     
  10. Felix

    Felix Member

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    Bill,

    While the center cluster would be somewhat sufficient for drama related things only, this theatre is also used by the band, orchestra, choir, jazz, and for presentation / guest speakers. Sometimes they show movies in here.

    And once, once, we've had a pretty kickin cast party with fog and lights at 1 am where i've pushed our portable 18" subs to the point where i was about the clip them ;)
     
  11. AVGuyAndy

    AVGuyAndy Active Member

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    Our auditorium sound system was upgraded for about that price a few years ago and it's about the same size.

    For that price we got:

    An array of 3 Sx300 flown in the center
    A RMX850, and an 1850HD
    A DR260
    2 monitors on 1 mix
    A cheap Alesis 10 channel rackmount mixer.

    It sounds like the OP actually wants to do the install right, the first time. If you do, 30k is not a bad price. Or you could just put in junk.
     

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