In celebration of its 50th anniversary last fall, Clowes Memorial Hall, Butler University’s professional performing arts venue, embarked on a $2M restoration project under the direction of Elise Kushigian, Executive Director, and daily supervision of all 18 contractors by Karen Steele, Director of Operations.
The restoration included much-needed updates to its roof, walls, seating, carpet, acoustics and audio enhancement system. The acoustical and audio enhancement portion of the project was spearheaded by David Wright of Indianapolis-based Wright Consulting Associates, Inc. (WCA) who called upon local tour sound provider Mid-America Sound Corporation (MAS) to provide system expertise and, ultimately, the recommendation for a new L-Acoustics KARAi house sound system.
Prior to the installation, which paired eight KARAi and two SB18i subs per side with a center-flown KARAi array of 14 enclosures for paramount coverage and vocal intelligibility, MAS served as a longtime rental vendor for the 2,200-seat, four-level auditorium, which hosts a wide range of Broadway-style theatrical events, touring concert productions and guest lecturers each season.
According to WCA’s Wright, who specified KARAi with Russ Hoppel after MAS’ Kerry Darrenkamp and Jason Wells provided a comprehensive demo of the system in the space, “We chose L-Acoustics for two reasons, the first being that KARAi is very rider-friendly and well accepted. Second, and more importantly, we found KARAi’s full bandwidth control superior for this room, over many other systems that are well accepted on Broadway and road tours. With very exact localization and a full LCR approach, performance became better than 95 percent of the halls we usually see. The results exceeded our prediction.”
Wright adds that much work was done well in advance of choosing the L-Acoustics system. For example, after commissioning a full software model for electro-acoustics, more than 22,000 perforations were hand-drilled into the auditorium’s rear wall to create a sophisticated acoustically tuned absorption system. Lapendaries were hung between the ceiling and the reflective “clouds” as well as above the proscenium face.
“Mechanical noise was the first major obstacle to overcome,” he says. “But Clowes Hall is now one of the quietest rooms in the country [NC-20] and an ideal setting for a premium system like KARAi.”
“Clowes has been a loyal rental client, and doing this install means that we are no longer hauling a PA in there for multiple shows every year,” notes MAS’ Darrenkamp. “However, even though this translates into less business for us, the KARAi system was absolutely the right choice for the client. Touring productions are finally leaving their own systems on their trucks and using the house rig, which was our ultimate goal.”
Clowes Memorial Hall Sound Technician Ernie Yezzi sums up the entire experience by adding, “Special thanks, of course, to Mid-America Sound - Kerry, Randy, Jason, and everyone there have offered incredible support after the sale and install. Also to Wright Consulting Associates - David and Russ for their responsiveness, consideration, and effort. Clowes Hall greatly benefitted from combining the disciplines of a live sound company and acoustical firm on this project. The L-ACOUSTICS KARAi system has been a great addition and improvement for both the hall and performing artists it hosts. Truly a win-win for all.”
Wright Consulting Associates, Inc.
Mid-America Sound Corporation