First Complete Installation Helps Theater Ease Into Digital During Inaugural Season
CLEVELAND, OH, MARCH 21, 2012—When The Life of Galileo opened in the newly revamped, 500-seat Allen Theatre at PlayhouseSquare, Aviom's AllFrame Multi-Modular I/O System, part of the theater's Pro64® Audio Network, was waiting in the wings, ready to make its debut during the inaugural season at the new theater of the Cleveland Play House (CPH).
“Due to the historic nature of the Allen Theatre, the recent transformation entailed building a shell inside the existing building, while still maintaining the original architecture,” says Raymond Kent, CTS LEED AP director of the Innovative Technology Design Group at Westlake Reed Leskosky (WRL), an associate principal with WRL and the lead audiovisual systems designer for the project. Home to CPH, America's first regional theater company and Cleveland State University's Department of Theatre and Dance, PlayhouseSquare is second to only New York's Lincoln Center in size. The last of the five historic theaters in PlayhouseSquare to complete its restoration, the Allen Theatre is part of “The Power of Three: The Allen Theatre Project,” a capital campaign undertaken in partnership between Cleveland State University (CSU), PlayhouseSquare and CPH, to build three new state-of-the-art theaters in PlayhouseSquare. This fall, it opened its doors with CPH's production of The Life of Galileo—a contemporary take on the epic story of Galileo.
When it came to redesigning the audio system within the Allen Theatre, Kent selected the Pro64 Audio Network and the AllFrame Multi-Modular I/O System from Aviom in particular because of the advantages it offered over a traditional analog system as well as other digital audio networks.
“When we were designing the system, we had to ensure it had the full capabilities of a professional theater but also the flexibility and ease of use for academic theater students,” says Kent. “The AllFrame was the perfect digital solution that could be incorporated without tearing into the plaster or having four-inch conduits coming out all over the place. The AllFrame requires only one piece of Cat-6 cable to connect the various locations set up throughout the theater—completely cutting out all the time required to cable and solder panels and test and verify. It's literally a quick connection.”
The Aviom Pro64 system is the center of the theater's audio network, connecting the DiGiCo SD9 digital console in the control booth to locations around the theater. Throughout the theater, there are currently three AllFrames installed at specific points, including the orchestra pit and stage, and two that can be placed anywhere that they are needed for a particular production. In addition there are several locations throughout the theater where Pro64 Cat-6 inputs are installed. These run to Pro64 MH10 Merger Hubs to provide more connection points for the loose AllFrames. Those that are installed are located at upstage right, upstage left, and in the mix pit. A Cat-6 cable connects each AllFrame to the front-of-house console, and input/output connections can be selected from the different locations as needed. “This flexibility will be even more useful for the theater's next stage, which has a flexible seating space. Instead of hardwire snakes, they will be able to run a Cat-6 and plug it into the AllFrame,” adds Kent.
The Allen Theatre's network consists of six F6 Modular I/O Frames, multi-purpose network frames with six field-configurable I/O card slots and integrated Cat-5e (or 6) and fiber optic connectivity. The F6s can be powered through a four-pin XLR connector, a Euroblock connector or one of the Cat-5e A-Net ports. In each F6, there are up to six AllFrame modules installed. Most of the units are designed as 16x8 with four C4m Mic/Line Input Cards and two C4o Output Cards. But the number of each card and the type can be changed in each of the F6s to configure the system differently for different productions as needed. This flexibility gives the theater the ability to design the best possible system for a given production with ease.
“The AllFrame and Pro64 system allows the production team to do what they would do with analog, but with digital and more flexibility,” explains Kent. “While the theater hasn't used the equipment to its fullest potential yet, the ability to patch one input to five outputs, as opposed to a 1-5 matrixing, keeps everything neat and clean, with the signal getting there perfectly. It's much crisper without experiencing a loss of signal or hum.”
In addition to the Aviom AllFrames, the theater has Pro64 rack-mounted I/O components, including a number of 6416i Input Modules, as well as several 6416o v.2 Output Modules and 6416dio Digital I/O Modules. They also have an RCI Remote Control Interface and MCS Mic Control Surface combination in use at the console to remotely control the mic pres in the system.
“Making the transformation to digital was a bit of a learning curve for the Allen Theatre team, between the Aviom system, DiGiCo console, projectors, etc.,” says Kent. “Plus, due to a few construction delays, we were right down to the wire, loading in the system and programming it for the first time. Representatives from Aviom were on site for the opening, making sure everyone was comfortable with the gear and that everything went smoothly.
“With productions just getting started at the new theater, the Aviom Pro64 system and AllFrame opens up so much flexibility—no matter what is happening on stage,” Kent continues. “In my mind, the AllFrame completely rewrote the books on how to do a digital system.”
Aviom pioneered personal mixing with its Pro16® Monitor Mixing System and continues to break new ground with the revolutionary Pro64® Series of audio networking products. With tens of thousands of products in the field today, Aviom has set the standard for high performance, scalable digital solutions. All Aviom systems harness the power of A-Net®, Aviom's innovative digital audio technology that simplifies system design while enhancing flexibility and fidelity. All Aviom products are designed, tested, and manufactured in the USA. For more information, visit www.Aviom.com.