The Grand Hall of the historic Stadium Theatre recently received a new sound reinforcement system featuring a selection of EAW components, including AX Series full-range loudspeakers, EAW Commercial CAZ Series power amplifiers, and an MX8750 digital signal processor. The system also includes a Mackie Onyx 4880 house-mixing console.

After being shuttered for more than 20 years, the all-volunteer Stadium Theatre Foundation in Woonsocket, RI raised enough funds to reopening the venue in 2001, which has been completely restored to its original 1926 grandeur. Currently, the Stadium Theater hosts more than 90 events a year, ranging from full-scale concerts to theatrical productions, lectures, and nearly everything in between.

Earlier this year, the foundation sought a professional-caliber sound reinforcement system to replace the previous system serving the Grand Hall, a shoebox-shaped room with approximately 1,100 seats split between the main floor, balcony, and side boxes. The system development team included Stadium Theatre tech director Dan Peloquin and Providence, RI-based sound/production company ATR/Treehouse as well as Mary Cook, Scott Jordan, and Joe Fustolo of the EAW Application Support Group (ASG).

The team formulated a new house system with main left and right loudspeaker clusters made up of single EAW AX396 full-range loudspeakers (with 90°by 60°coverage pattern) above two EAW AX122 dual 12”loaded subwoofers that feature a trapezoidal cabinet matching that of the full-range loudspeakers. The clusters are flown with a custom hardware solution provided by rigging specialists Polar Focus.

The new system also offers another single AX396 center loudspeaker to provide voice/spoken word reinforcement, mounted horizontally and tucked as tightly against the apex of the stage proscenium as possible. In addition, four EAW UB12S compact loudspeakers were also specified to provide frontfill to the first few seating rows.

“The goal is vocal intelligibility to the highest degree possible, but with an ability to ‘stomp’ the system for more full-range, dynamic musical applications when needed,” says Cook. “Sometimes you want and need more than 100 dB in the house, so the design took this into account.”

All loudspeakers are driven by EAW Commercial power amplifiers that are rack-mounted in a remote upper floor room adjacent to the stage area, including seven model CAZ2500 amplifiers dedicated to the house loudspeakers (bi-amp mode) and subwoofers (bridged mono). A single CAZ1400 amplifier, also in bridged mono mode, powers the four UB12 frontfill loudspeakers.

An EAW MX8750 digital signal processor joins the amps in the rack. Four output channels of the eight-channel unit are dedicated to left and right full-range loudspeakers (two channels each), and two more channels provide mono-summed output to the center loudspeaker. Another mono-sum output feeds the subwoofers.

“This is such a balanced system, with no hot or dead spots. That’s what impresses the people coming here the most,” explains Peloquin. “Frankly, we believe it has made us the premiere facility in the region, the jewel of the state because of our success at addressing the missing link of sound quality.”

The system’s Mackie Onyx 4880 console, centrally located on the main floor at the house mix position, was selected for a variety of reasons, with ease of use and plenty of channels topping the list. The Mackie board also offered the desired balance of pro caliber performance and features, and a price that fit the budget requirements for the project.

Given the extreme differences in expertise on the part of its users from night to night, the console also had to be operator friendly while still meeting rider expectations. “In general, this system is very easy to operate,” concludes Peloquin. “And the Mackie console is just right, simple yet sounding great.”