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Allen & Heath iLive Console Enhances Surround Sound & Multipurpose Production At Smith Theater
Innovative AV system design handles everything from basic lectures to live theater with surround sound
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In Howard Community College’s Smith Theater in Columbia, Maryland, a typical day might include everything from theater and film to lectures and meetings, with the occasional live concert thrown in as well.

With inputs ranging from a single voice up to 56 inputs and outputs that might be mono, stereo or full surround sound, it was critical that this multifunctional space have a sound system with maximum flexibility and sonic clarity.

The college chose an Allen & Heath iLive-112 digital mixing console as the control center for its new system.

Smith Theater seats 420 in three sections, with identical left and right mezzanines above the main floor.

Designed by Acoustic Dimensions and implemented by AVI-SPL, the audio system uses a left-right-center approach, with delay speakers addressing the mezzanines.

Each section has its own rear speakers, creating a full surround experience for every seating position. 

The facility’s production coordinator, Mark Smedley, selected the iLive-112 for its combination of flexibility, ease of use and portability.

“As a community college, we have a wide variety of events throughout the week,” he explains. “Before the redesign, when we would come in to do a play, the board settings would be changed, so a lot of time was spent on setup and troubleshooting. With the new iLive console, we just push a button and we’re ready to go.”

Jay Paul, VP of engineering and quality control for AVI-SPL, commissioned and tuned the sound system.

“Essentially, we set it up so the system can be used in two ways, with all the iLive outputs feeding a Peavey Nion processor,” he says. “If there’s a surround program, we take inputs from an Onkyo surround processor/preamplifier for 5.1 distribution.

“For standard programming, the console can directly address the main left-center-right system above the proscenium, plus the delay speakers, individually. The subwoofers are also discretely addressable.”

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