Metro Sound & Video Install Extensive EV System in Milwaukee High School Auditorium
The 46-year-old, 1000-seat auditorium was remodeled in 2004 as part of the school’s Centennial celebrations. Prior to system integration, the room underwent extensive acoustic treatment, and received new cushioned seating, carpeting, woodwork refurbishment, pipe organ rebuilding and stage refinishing. Though on a limited budget based solely on financial gifts from alumni and local Lutheran congregations, the school approached the renovation intelligently and systematically, leaving no detail unaddressed. Now that attention to detail is paying dividends, and the system impresses everyone who hears it. This installation really represents a new paradigm in high school sound - a world away from the endless reverberation and harsh reflection people used to automatically associate with school auditoriums.
Systems Engineer at Metro Sound and Video, Dave Hosbach, headed the system design process at WLHS. Hosbach commented: “WLHS is one of the oldest and largest Lutheran high schools in the country. Richard Mannisto, Chairman of the Fine Arts Department, approached us on the strength of some other systems we’d designed for other Lutheran high schools and colleges over the years. This was going to be a major renovation, and they asked us to solve the audio problems they’d had in the past, which were basically the result of good components being misapplied. With this in mind, we set about designing a system that balanced high performance with good value. We put a long-term system master plan together, beginning with the main Xi system components. We plan on installing production intercom and wireless mic systems in the near future. This will keep the project within budget, yet won’t compromise the optimal, “total system solution’ approach. The idea was to provide the best audio quality possible, given the wide range of activities that take place in the auditorium. Aside from the daily student chapel and assemblies that take place throughout the year, the space hosts festival services, dramatic plays, musicals, band, choir, concerts and conferences. It’s one of the largest high school auditoriums in the city, and we wanted to put in a system that maximized its potential as a performance space.“
The Xi boxes were viewed as a potential solution from day one. After the acoustic absorption and diffusion treatment designs in the auditorium had been completed by local consultant Scott Riedel of Riedel & Associates, Metro Sound and Video put together an EASE™ model to confirm the Xi as the best speaker for the job. Three low profile Xi-1123™ boxes now solve the problem of vertical space limitation above the proscenium, being run in dipole mode to ensure good vertical directivity control in spite of their compact size. Three Xi-1152™ boxes cover the back half of the room, and four Xi-1082™ boxes are used as stage-lip speakers, recessed into the front of the stage to cover the first three rows at the front of the auditorium. A pair of TL550D™ subs are also recessed under the stage. A pair of EVID™ 4.2s are surface mounted in the lobby. Two EV CPS™ 2.6 amplifiers drive the high and mids on the Xi-1123 and Xi-1152 boxes, two CPS 2.8s drive the lows. Two CPS 2.4 power the Xi-1082 front fills and existing stage monitors. CPS 2.8s drive the TL subwoofers in bridged mono mode at 4 Ohms.
Richard Mannisto commented: “We wanted to put in a really good quality sound system, but with the auditorium being used so much as a worship space, we didn’t want big speakers hanging out there like a night club or concert arena. Metro Sound did a great job of reducing the speaker size and concealing them wherever they could. And kudos to Electro-Voice for offering the speakers to let them get the job done.“
Roger Festerling, faculty advisor to the student P.A. crew, gave the audience’s perspective: “I’ve sat in every seating area in the room for chapel. The sound is absolutely great everywhere. There are no dead spots. People sit in the front rows and wonder where the speakers are. The delays are set so well that people in the upper rows can’t tell that there’s sound coming from anywhere but on stage. One day after the school year started, we had some music going and the P.A. guys were standing in front of the stage. They wanted to know where the bass sound was coming from. When I opened the doors to the sub enclosures under the stage, they were blown away. You can be within a few feet of the subs and not be able to tell that there’s even a speaker in front of you, let alone two double-15’s.“
In keeping with the high-end amps and speakers, Metro Sound and Video installed a Midas Venice 320™ console at FOH. Hosbach commented: “Midas made sense for a couple of reasons. One: everyone knows the name Midas - it’s rider friendly. Two: nothing sounds like a Midas, and no other console has the predictable, sensitive and warm eq of the Midas consoles. If you’re going with a loudspeaker of the quality of Xi, you really want a console to do them justice, and vice versa. In addition, the Venice is extremely easy to use - the user can assign inputs and deal with multiple mixes without needing an engineering degree. Even the color-coding on the knobs makes a difference, especially since the board is often operated by high school students. In this sense, the Venice is designed for intuitive operation, which really accelerates the learning curve without cutting corners on sound quality. In the same token, a touring sound engineer could come in for a show and be quite at home.“
Hosbach added: “The new system also includes EV N/D767a™ vocal, N/D478™ instrument, RE92H™ hanging condenser and Polar Choice™ podium microphones, and (6) new Telex FMR500 beltpack wireless systems. The N/D478 in particular has become an indispensable element of the new system at WLHS: “The N/D478 really has become our “go-to“, universal, multi-purpose mic. It’s a great instrument mic, with a really sensitive capsule and great off-axis rejection. I also use it as a choir mic: I can open up the gain substantially without worrying about feedback. In a high school situation, you really want to bring in mics that can multi task in this manner, as they’re inevitably going to be used for everything from light speech reinforcement to piano and choir to garage band guitars and drums. The N/D478 lends itself to that utilitarian approach perfectly - it’s a great microphone, it’s reliable, and doesn’t cost a fortune.“
“The new Telex FMR-500™ wireless systems have been also more than satisfactory. Roger Festerling simply says: “Thank you. My guys tell me they finally have wireless mics that work. Using one is a piece of cake. Using six at a time? Well, they just don’t have any worries because they work so well. We can’t wait to add more.“
WLHS Drama Director Mary Schmal stated, “I was astonished at the difference in sound since Metro Sound and Video installed the new system in our auditorium. The sound is clear, vibrant, and balanced. The annoying echo that had plagued our performances is gone. Actors’ voices are clean, crisp, and intelligible. The improvement enhances listening for senior citizens as well as the large crowds that fill the nearly 1000-seat space. Performance pleasure has significantly increased because of the excellent sound quality.“
Pastor James Kleist, Superintendent at WLHS, summed up the results: “The WLHS Auditorium may be the most used room in our facility, given our daily chapel services as well as all the events (concerts, dramas, musicals) that are open to the public. Unfortunately, with the passing of time, it had also become our most uncomfortable room. Hard wooden seats, inconsistent sound that seemed to bounce around the room in a very haphazard way, and no air-conditioning were all at the top of our “fix-it’ list. The new cushioned seating and air-conditioning are much appreciated improvements. However, our acoustically tuned room and the new sound system are by far the most appreciated improvements. Now, no matter where you sit in the auditorium, the sound is consistently excellent. There is no question that our new Electro-Voice audio system is making our daily chapel services as well as every other event that is held in our auditorium - and around here there are many - much more meaningful and enjoyable! I don’t have to apologize anymore when I invite donors to be my quests for a concert or drama or musical. No matter where they sit, they will be able to hear everything.“
WLHS EV/Midas equipment list
Loudspeakers: Xi-1123, Xi-1152, Xi-1082, TL550D, EVID 4.2
Amplifiers: CPS 2.4, CPS 2.6, CPS 2.8, 7100
Microphones: N/D767a, N/D478, RE92H, Polar Choice
Console: Midas Venice 320
Coming soon: EV Eliminator™ stage monitors, additional Telex FMR-500 wireless systems (6+), Telex wireless production intercom
The Xi-Series™ is the installation version of the renowned X-Array™ touring systems. Xi-Series incorporates a potent combination of very high output and ultra-linear short-, medium-, and long-throw systems, in two-way, three-way and four-way configurations. Xi-Series incorporates the acoustical advantage of EV’s unique Ring Mode Decoupling (RMD™) and features HP horns to secure excellent directivity control and even coverage.
Electro-Voice (EV), is a professional audio brand of Telex Communications, Inc., a leader in the design, manufacture and marketing of sophisticated audio, wireless, multimedia, aircraft, broadcast and communications equipment for commercial, professional and industrial customers. Telex Communications markets its products in more than 80 countries under the brands EV, Telex, RTS, Dynacord, Midas, Klark Teknik and others.
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Telex Communications, Inc.
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Public Relations Manager
Telex Communications, Inc.
12000 Portland Ave. South
Burnsville, MN 55337