Built in 1913, the Lyric Theater became a popular entertainment center for African-Americans in Miami, the anchor of “Little Broadway” in Overtown featuring artists such as Sammy Davis Jr., Count Basie, Sam Cooke, Aretha Franklin, Celia Cruz, B.B. King, Patti LaBelle, Ella Fitzgerald, Redd Foxx, Mary Wells and others.
After closing in the 1970s, the Lyric was purchased by the Black Archives, History and Research Foundation of South Florida in 1988. Since then, the theater has undergone three major restorations and upgrades, culminating in a grand opening for the fully refurbished performance complex in early February.
Miami’s Drummer Boy Sound (DBS) Productions did the consulting and design for the Lyric’s new audio and video systems, choosing Martin Audio loudspeakers because Tim Barber, managing director of the Black Archives, was impressed with a Martin-based system he had heard at a DBS event.
“The client wanted a high-quality sound system that could be used for national R&B and gospel acts and theater production events, and that would properly cover the venue and be accepted by touring engineers,” notes DBS owner Harold Cummings. “A line array wasn’t the right answer because the Lyric is a small 400-seater with a balcony and the sound would have been all over the place. Plus we needed a stereo-imaged room because the space also doubles as a movie theater.
Cummings’ system design includes four W3Ps flown from the proscenium wall, (one firing at the balcony and one at the main theater floor on each side) two Martin Audio AQ5s for stereo under balcony, two AQ5s for stereo front fill, and two WS218SX subwoofers fitted into custom openings inside the stage. There are also Martin Audio LE1200s as stage monitors.
“The Martin Audio W3P was the only speaker that made sense since it’s a compact 3-way trapezoid system with a tight pattern and 65-degree horizontal dispersion, which was key to this job,” Cummings adds “There weren’t that many speakers on the market with that type of dispersion, sound quality and high output capability in one package.”
Other system components include an Allen & Heath iLive T112 console with iDR48 rack, Ashly Protea processor, Shure micrphones and a Whirlwind split snake system and cables.
“Everyone thought the system sounded amazing and the coverage was incredible,” Cummings concludes. “You could hear perfectly in every single seat. We had more than enough headroom and plenty of low end, something that’s very important to me. With Martin Audio, I feel confident that no matter what kind of act comes in here, we have it covered.”