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Alliance Theater Installs Innova SON Compact Console As Heart Of New Digital Sound System

(September 20, 2001)
When it came time to replace the aging console in the South's largest regional theater, the Alliance Theater Company struck out for the cutting edge of technology and came up with Innova SON's fully digital, completely recallable Compact console. Located in the heart of Atlanta's Midtown, the 35-year old Alliance Theater plays to 330,000 patrons each season on two stages, the 800-seat Alliance Stage (which received the new console) and the 200-seat Hertz Stage.

Once section after section of the 11-year old console blinked out, heading for eternity in a blissful op-amp afterlife with no replacement parts in sight, resident sound designer Clay Benning made the call to replace it wholesale. In the process, he revamped the entire "mid section" of the sound system, bringing in six BSS SoundWeb 9088s to accept the digital LCR outputs from the Innova SON Compact.

The outputs from a clutch of Sennheiser SK 50s using EM 3032 receiver wireless microphones head up the signal chain, delivering RF performance for the individual performers. The receivers feed into the 60-input, 40-output Innova SON Stage Box, which pre amplifies and digitizes the signals for transport over two petite coaxial cables. Benning cited the simplicity and affordability of installing the Stage Box over the hassle and expense of traditional snakes, as the factor that moved him in the direction of the Innova SON.

The BSS Soundweb handles most of the equalization, crossover filtering, delays, and distribution for the theater's Crown amplifiers and Meyer loudspeakers. In keeping with Innova SON's true Left-Center-Right panning, they have three LCR clusters flown above the stage complemented by a small handful of delayed fills. "The beauty of the new system," observed Benning, "is that our signal stays digital from the stage to the amps. That reduces the overall delay time and keeps everything exceptionally neat and clean."

Because The Alliance Theater Company produces six shows a season on the Alliance Stage and performs eight shows a week, total recall and comprehensive automation ranked high in Benning's criteria. The Company places a premium on excellence and consistency. With the Compact's snapshot recall of everything from preamplifier gain to in-line processing parameter settings, all of the nuances worked out in technical rehearsal are preserved for the actual performance without any hassles or second-guessing. The compact size of the aptly named Compact also figured prominently in the decision to go with Innova SON. Where the old behemoth of a console had to be placed in a "spiritually separated" sound booth, Benning was able to install the Compact in the house, allowing for more fluid and effectual mixing.

The new installation has met with rave reviews from patrons to sound designers to the engineers who run things night to night. "Everyone loves the clean sound, and the engineers and guest sound designers find the visual equalization section particularly useful," reported Benning. "Communication between the designers and engineers is improved when they can both 'look' at what they're doing to the sound.

"The whole installation went smoothly," he continued. "The representatives at Sennheiser [who distribute Innova SON in the USA] have always been helpful providing support for our microphones, and they really came through on the installation. They got us whatever we needed and ensured that everything integrated flawlessly. Having gone with Innova SON, we're way ahead of the pack, and will stay that way for years to come."

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Related Keywords:Alliance Theater, Innova, SON, console, digital sound system, Clay Benning

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