The Wheeler Opera House, a world-class theatre located at the epicenter of downtown Aspen, Colorado, recently installed a new digital Soundcraft Vi6™ console at front-of-house. Built in the 1880s, the Wheeler Opera House is a Victorian proscenium-style theatre restored most recently by the City of Aspen in the early 1980s. Improved once more with its new Soundcraft console, the Wheeler offers a unique show-going experience as an intimate 500-seat house with acclaimed natural acoustics and picturesque setting at the base of Aspen Mountain.
The Wheeler’s production co-manager, Gordon Wilder, contacted Audio Analysts of Colorado Springs last year to discuss a new console for the venue. Ken Toal, executive director of Audio Analysts’ commercial division and account manager on the sale to Wheeler, describes, “They were interested in all the benefits of a digital console – programmability, scene recall, etc. We got a Vi6 demo unit in and invited Gordon down to take a look.”
The Wheeler Opera House has been technically well equipped since the extensive multi-million dollar renovation completed by the city to not only restore the room to its original Victorian glory, but also to create a memorable performance venue in this popular destination town. An active, three-way, full range loudspeaker system stacks up left and right of the proscenium in side boxes with a balcony fill system above those speakers, left and right, and a mono center fill system positioned at the stage lip.
Wilder chose the Soundcraft Vi6 digital live sound console to replace an analog board. The Vi6 provides 64 mono input channels, 35 outputs, 24 insert return pairs, 32 group/aux/matrix busses, and main left/right/center and left/right busses. All input channels on the Vi6 feature 16 VCA groups, sweepable four-band parametric EQ, compressor/limiter, phantom power, gate, and de-esser.
“The sound quality of the Vi6 has the width, depth and transparency we were looking for in a digital console,” says Wilder. “Many of the other choices we looked at were opaque in quality and did not reach the audio performance of quality analog desks we were accustomed to using.”
Audio Analysts installed the Soundcraft Vi6 at the Wheeler in early October. According to Toal, “Tom Der from Soundcraft and I went to Aspen in October to commission the console as well as train the Wheeler staff.”
The Vi6 made its debut on October 10 with a John Denver tribute concert, featuring members of Denver’s band, and has since worked numerous shows. “We chose the Vi6 for its sound quality, processing power and accessibility to non-digital savvy audio system operators,” adds Wilder. “The Vi6 is indeed user friendly. We recently hosted a music group from Africa and their Malian, French-speaking FOH engineer presented us with an almost total language barrier. Without the ability to speak with him he was still able to use the desk to an excellent result having never seen the Vi6 before.”