Having 1,000 seats, two meeting spaces, an exhibition space, and a large lobby is enough to call any new performing arts center “impressive.” But the acoustic performance at Carroll County, Georgia Schools’ new facility is what earned this building the recognition as ‘the most acoustically calibrated venue in West Georgia’.
Designed primarily as a music hall, the auditorium is acoustically quite live, and its acoustics and architecture presented challenges for AV design consultants Southern A&E and installers Distex Audio Video. One solution provided everything the design and install teams wanted: Renkus-Heinz IC Live Gen5 digitally steered arrays.
The stage had to accommodate the largest school band, which has more than 200 members, according to Southern A&E vice president of Electrical Engineering Frank Campo, Jr. That’s why it’s over 80 feet wide and over 40 feet deep. Since this is a music hall, not a theatrical facility, there’s no proscenium.
“We didn’t want to hang a 7ft-tall center array anyway,” adds Southern A&E’s Jason Leatherwood. “Aesthetics was a big part of it. The ceilings are nice curved wood, and we didn’t want to impact those sightlines.”
Instead, the Southern A&E team specified a pair of Renkus-Heinz ICL-F-DUAL-RN digitally steered arrays. With the double-stacked ICL-F-DUAL-RNs, they could define the opening angles for up to eight beams and aim them up or down. That enabled the team to address several issues, including lively acoustics.
“The auditorium was designed with natural acoustics so you could hear without a sound system, and it does that well,” explains Distex installer Brad Feirn.
“If you’re playing piano or singing, you can hear it in the front or the upper balcony in the back without the sound system. Typically, acoustic clouds and panels absorb sound, but here, they’re hard materials to make it acoustically live.”
The lower-level seating is on a raised floor, which rises to a cross aisle, where front-of-house is located. Behind that, a section of raised seating continues to a wall, which extends eight to ten feet up to a balcony.
“We split the beams and hit the upper balcony section and the lower riser section, keeping reflected sound off the wall,” Brad explains. “With beam steering, just two Renkus-Heinz IC Live arrays cover all the way to the back-and cover it very well.”
The arrays are tucked into recessed wall panels to the left and right of the stage. “With the black accents on the wood panelling, if you’re not looking for the speakers, you wouldn’t notice them,” states Frank.
Challenges Facing the Integrator
The biggest challenge was angling the arrays to avoid issues onstage, especially in the absence of a proscenium. Fortunately, Distex mounted the arrays on custom brackets, enabling them to be physically adjusted.
“Originally, they were positioned at a 30° angle,” Brad details. “We used the mounting bracket to straighten them so they’re almost facing straight back. That helped a tremendous amount.”
“We are hitting the side wall,” admits Jason, “but the wall is in such close proximity to the speaker that you don’t notice.”
The stage acoustics will be further refined with the addition of movable acoustic walls, which were part of the system design. “They can put those up to effectively make the stage smaller when they’re doing lectures or have a small chorus singing,” comments Brad.
Even with wide coverage and steerable beam spreads, a few front rows needed more reinforcement, so the Southern A&E team added four Renkus-Heinz CFX42 compact, two-way stair step speakers across the front of the stage.
Other Renkus-Heinz IC Live Arrays
Three Renkus-Heinz IC215S-FR dual 15in subwoofers, flown about 35ft above the front of the stage handle the bottom end. Designed to pair with IC Live steerable arrays, IC215S-FR subwoofers can produce peaks of 136 dB SPL and handle low frequencies down to 43 Hz.
Completing the speaker complement is a pair of Renkus-Heinz CFX121 two-way Complex Conic loudspeakers, each with a 12-inch woofer and 2-inch titanium high-frequency driver, which serve as stage monitors.
A Symetrix Radius 12×8 DSP, chosen for its range of controls, ease of programming, and sound quality, manages the auditorium system and approximately 70 ceiling speakers in the hallways, bathrooms, and lobby.
A Midas mixer handles large events, connecting to the DSP via Dante. For small events, four analogue audio inputs enable connection of a laptop and microphones, which can be mixed using a Crestron touch panel.
The new building opened in August 2017, and the Renkus-Heinz system has already proven a success.
“It’s hard to think of other products that could have fit these demands,” asserts Leatherwood. “The sound system works fine, it sounds really good, and the sound is as good in the back as it is in the front,” Brad concludes. “They just love it.”