You’ve heard the old adage “Will it play in Peoria.” It certainly will, thanks to the recent rehabilitation of the Peoria Civic Center Theater.
The phrase was originally coined in the 1920’s during the vaudeville era. At that time, Peoria was an important stop, the vaudeville companies recognizing that if their show would work in Peoria, it would play anywhere. Over the years, because of its central Illinois location and demographics, Peoria has become both a well-known test market, as well as geographically a convenient tour routing destination point.
Earlier this year, Peoria-based Advanced Audio & Light (6707 N. Sheridan, Peoria, IL 61614, www.advaudio.com) specified, designed and installed an upgraded audio system for the Civic Center Theater in Peoria, Illinois.
Peoria Civic Center (www.peoriaciviccenter.com) is a convention center in downtown Peoria, Illinois. The facility includes an arena, a theater, an exhibit hall and meeting rooms. It was built in 1982 as part of Peoria’s planned development to serve as an economic engine for downtown revitalization, and completed an expansion in 2008. The site of the convention center was built where the former Jefferson Hotel (site of the Underground Railroad – imploded in 1978 to make room) was located. The center was designed by world-renowned architects Philip John and John Burgee.
A cornerstone of the center is the 2,244 seat Civic Center Theater, a major Midwest stopover point for concerts, Broadway shows, orchestra concerts and other events.
The Center also houses Carver Arena, the home for Bradley University basketball and the Peoria Rivermen hockey and plays host to concerts featuring the likes of Shania Twain, Miranda Lambert and others; as well as a 108,000-square foot exhibit hall.
The primary goal of the audio system design by Advanced Audio & Light was to bring the Civic Center Theater up to contemporary standards for the variety of events held there. However, they took that one step further by not only accomplishing that task, but providing a system that could be multi-functional for the entire center. This provided both the solution to their audio needs, and added an increased revenue profit center to their bottom line.
CIVIC CENTER THEATER
For the system in the Civic Center Theater, the design incorporated a sound system comprised of a combination of RCF and Danley speakers, Avid Venue Profile console and mix rack system, plus Biamp TesiraForte DSP.
The design by Advanced Audio & Light entailed the performing arts center, 16 of the skyboxes, trimming each balcony and under balcony and covering all the dressing rooms and lobby areas.
The RCF portion of the system design is comprised of 16 TTL55-A three-way active line array boxes in left and right hangs of eight boxes each coupled with six TTL36-AS dual 18” active subs, three per side in cardioid configuration. A total of 16 C3108 passive 8” two-cabinets are used, each individually covering each of the skyboxes. Six C3108 120x60 cabinets cover the under balcony. Two P5228 passive dual 8” two-way cabinets cover the upper balcony. A center cluster of four Danley boxes is downfired to cover the main floor (which can also be run by itself when there are small corporate events in the facility with just a few rows of seats on the main floor being occupied), with three TT52-A active 5” two-way cabinets for lip fill.
For monitors, they chose eight TT25-SMA active 12” two-way stage monitors, three TT45-SMA active dual 12” two-way stage monitors, and an additional SUB8004-AS 18” active subwoofer (for the drummer).
Why did they choose RCF? “Competitively when you look at all the systems out there, RCF is right in the ballpark with everybody else.” In the selection process, Keeling notes, “this was a year-long process. And with the budgeting restraints that we had, you can’t get any better than this. That was our whole mindset in going into the decision to use RCF, and we did a lot of research into this,” pointing to the fact they are active cabinets (reducing amp rack costs), renowned transducer manufacturer (name well known in touring circles), and performance vs. cost ratio.
“We can easily do 115 dB at the back wall,” notes Keeling. “So the system can do metal, and it’s been received very well by the orchestral types.”
As the facility is used for all different types of performances and events, the system needed to be designed to accommodate those.
As Keeling notes, “a scenario is such when an off-Broadway guys comes in and has his own specifics and says, ‘shut the rest of the zones off,’ we can do it. Or he may want a different EQ of the room, we can do it.” He goes on to say, “some of these guys come in and want independent mixes to different output locations dependent on what they want to send. We can accommodate that,” with the Avid Profile and Biamp Tesira DSP. “A lot of show designers have needs that are unique to their show. It’s not a generic thing. For example, they may want everything to roll off at 200 Hz, or change the coverage of the skyboxes. We can do that.”
“The total design of the system also allows them to come in with their own gear as necessary and they can either route or tie-in to our system,” Keeling says. “Flexibility is critical. Matrix routing. System needs. Preset configurations. We can do it.” With this, Keeling mentions all the dressing rooms, rehearsal space, and even the buildings lobbies and bathrooms signal must be sent to.
One of the unique factors of the design is the center Danley cluster. Using a custom built Polar Focus custom flying kit, “we can move or remove the center cluster as necessary,” noting, “the system design allows us to adjust the cluster delay time dependent on where the hang is at.”
Regarding the Biamp Tisera, Keeling notes, “as a head-end processor, all signal distribution is done across AVB,” noting the Tisera is a great clock. “Latency is not an issue.”
As for the Profile consoles, “for the purist that comes in we provide two Digidesign Profiles and they can view all them as either analog or digital inputs to the active RCF boxes in the stage racks and bypass the Tisera,” as they may not want another A/D-D/A conversion causing delays and latency.
The system is so flexible, “if he just wanted to send from the stage rack, he has tie lines to the FOH, tie lines to stage left or stage right.” 12 mic inputs on the stage right position can act as a virtual touch panel.
“We can also load software from a laptop and tie in to a virtual LAN and take control there and actually mix from his laptop.”
COST SAVINGS & PROFIT CENTER
As the room handles everything from concerts to touring Broadway productions, the need for different system configurations is essential. A key design of this system is the “profit center” for the venue – with the cost savings already being seen in just the first few months of operation. Previously, they would often have to sub-rent systems, especially for concerts. Now, they can bundle the “house” system into the rental cost of the facility, or present it as part of a package to reduce costs for the incoming event.
“Part of the design of the system took into account event production costs and provide a potential revenue stream to the venue,” cites Keeling. “It is a great selling point, and they have noticed a huge uptick in outside promoters who want to use the venue. The convention center is playing landlord and they can be very competitive when vying for events. ‘We’re turnkey,’ they tout. You can walk in the room and we can do a show without bringing outside guys in to drive up show costs.
He goes on to note that the venue has re-couped over $150,000 in rentals in the first eight months of operation.
The system was also designed with “portability” in mind. As the performing arts center is part of the complex that also includes an arena, the system is set up with individual motors and the center cluster is set up with its own specific Polar Focus system. “Which means if we have a huge off-Broadway event and we need all the center points clean for site lines, we can easily remove it.” And the efficiency of the design – “It used to take eight guys a day call…now it takes one guy with motor control as it mounts with one cable hook-up and all points are fixed.”
At the same time, the two TTL55-A arrays can be motored down quickly, and with the accessorized carting RCF has designed, can be easily moved into the arena when a major concert act comes to town.