The Frist Campus Center is a focal point for social activities on the Princeton University campus, and among its more popular hotspots is the Film and Performance Theatre, which recently unveiled new VUE audiotechnik al-4 line arrays as part of a major audio system upgrade designed to better facilitate live music at the popular campus destination.
With fixed seating for 197 on the main level and 42 on the balcony, the Film and Performance Theatre features a small stage, as well as projection screen and capabilities for 35mm, 16mm and DVD films. An existing surround sound system provides sufficient sound for dance performances and film viewing, but until recently the venue lacked a suitable sound reinforcement solution for live music performances.
Recognizing a need to expand the theatre’s capabilities, Film and Performance Theatre production manager Jim Streeter and his colleague James Allington, audio engineer at the university’s nearby Richardson Auditorium, teamed up with New Jersey-based PanAVid to design and install a more capable solution.
“Prior to the Frist project, James [Allington] invited us to facilitate a loudspeaker shootout for a new balcony system in Princeton’s Richardson Auditorium,” explains PanAVid’s Dennis Mitchell. “We brought systems from most of the big name manufacturers, including a pair of VUE i-2x4.5 boxes. The VUE’s literally blew everyone else out of the water, and ultimately won the gig.”
Mitchell continues, “A few months later when James contacted us about working with them on the Film and Performance Theatre at the Frist Center, he specifically asked for the VUE al-4 line array system, so we made arrangements to bring one in for a trial run.”
PanAVid opted for a fairly straightforward configuration. Dual, four-element al-4 arrays were yoke-mounted on poles atop a pair of VUE hs-25 powered subwoofers located at the left and right of the forward stage. A single VUE V4 systems engine provided power and processing for the eight al-4 elements.
“We were initially concerned about getting even coverage throughout the room,” notes Streeter. “The al-4 not only delivered exceptional coverage and sound quality, but it did so with almost no tweaking. We literally had it set up and playing within a few minutes, and the coverage was spot on right out of the box. I’ve never experienced a line array as predictable and consistent as the al-4.”
In addition to sound quality, portability was also on the list of critical objectives for the Princeton and PanAVid teams.
“We support other events throughout the Frist Campus Center,” says Streeter. “The al-4’s compact size and ability to scale up and down, or drop in and out of a road case in pre-assembled stacks, makes it extremely easy to work with. It’s really the perfect balance of line array performance and single-box simplicity.”
So effective was the al-4 demonstration that Allington and Streeter opted to purchase the very system brought in for the trial run. And with its portability proven during set-up, the exact configuration, including the al-4 yoke mounts and the hs-25 subwoofers, was retained as part of the final design.
“The hs-25 subwoofers are really the perfect match for the al-4,” adds Mitchell. “Bass is exceptionally musical and tight, and it blends perfectly with the clarity and presence of the line array.”
An Avid VENUE S3L console handles the mix, and rounds out the new “live worthy” system. And while it’s only been online for a few weeks, early reports are that Streeter and Allington couldn’t be happier with the results.
“During our very first use of the al-4, everyone from the talent to audience members commented on how clear and clean the audio was,” concluded Streeter. “It’s a very impressive little system.”