System Profile: A Make-Over At The Grove
This staple of the live performance circuit gets a sonic face lift.

April 22, 2010, by PSW Staff


The Winter NAMM Show and Disneyland aren’t the only reasons people flock to Anaheim, California every year.

Head east on Katella Avenue, across I-5, and the city also hosts the Anaheim Ducks, the Los Angeles Angels, and tucked between them is a great mid-sized concert hall - The Grove of Anaheim.

Owned by the City of Anaheim, The Grove is managed and operated by Nederlander Concerts, which owns and/or operates more than 26 theaters and amphitheaters, including the Pantages, the Santa Barbara Bowl and the Greek Theatre.

The Grove presents more than 275 events annually, with attendance over 200,000 per year - not too shabby for a concert hall that seats about 2,000.

Artists span the gamut of genre and demographic, ranging from classic rock bands like The Black Crowes and Kansas to alternative groups like Fall Out Boy and 3 Doors Down, as well as Broadway shows like “Rent” and “Stomp” and comedy stars such as Lewis Black and the late, great George Carlin.

If you know people who tour, you know someone who’s been to The Grove.

The venue’s management had been researching new line arrays for the past several years, and had “test driven” many systems along the way, when touring acts carrying production would bring in their systems.

The consoles at the venue are a similar vintage to The Grove’s previous point-source loudspeakers, though many national acts bring their own digital desks these days.

Blue Oyster Cult doing a soundcheck, with QSC WideLine10 arrays flanking the stage.

At Front of House, a 48-channel Yamaha PM3500 is supplemented with Yamaha effects, Behringer gates and compressors, plus a BSS FCS-960 graphic for system EQ.

The monitor console is a Yamaha M3000, with 10 channels of BSS Audio Opal Series graphic EQ and Yamaha SPX990 effects. Microphone inventory includes Audix drum mics, Shure SM58s and SM57s, pairs of AKG C 451s and Shure KSM44s, plus eight Shure UHF-R wireless systems.

Rider Ready
“Our old speakers had served us pretty well for a number of years, but it was old technology and not a line array – which most tech riders call for,” explains Louis Dorsey, Production Manager at The Grove.

“We got to hear and use almost every major brand of line array that came through the doors with various touring acts. Some were very good while others left much to be desired. And most of them were just too expensive.

“We had heard the QSC WideLine10 come through on a couple of different shows and were always impressed with its coverage and output capacity for a box that small,” he continues.

“And of course, we knew how good QSC amplifiers are because they’d been powering our old rig for many years.”

Brian English, Director of Concert System Solutions for QSC Audio, recalls, “In the past, I’d seen Yes, Dream Theater and Jethro Tull at this theatre and always enjoyed the intimacy of the room.

It’s big enough to host some pretty serious shows, yet small enough to be able see the actual performance from the back of the room without having to watch the I-MAG screens all night.

The Grove has become a great showcase venue for all our technologies.”

English arranged to provide QSC line arrays and power amplifiers for two weeks worth of shows as a “test-drive,” used for performances by The Spinners, Pretenders, DJ Quik, and an “ultimate test” by the new Sammy Hagar-Joe Satriani super-group Chickenfoot, featuring Van Halen’s Michael Anthony on bass and drummer Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

The test/demo process went exceedingly well, with the venue’s management team opting to implement the QSC-based solution.

Good Test
The Grove’s newly installed sound reinforcement system is headed by two 12-box arrays of QSC WideLine 10 3-way WL2102 cabinets, supported by a dozen ground-stacked GP218 double-18 subwoofers.

All of these loudspeakers are driven by QSC PowerLight PL340 amplifiers on the high-frequency drivers and PL380 amps on all the cones, with digital loudspeaker processing from two QSC Basis 914 housed with the amp racks.

Violinist David Garrett and his band utilizing the new CSM monitors for a recent performance.

A pair of ILA dual-8 compact line array enclosures at the lip of the stage supply front fill, powered by a PL236 amplifier.

“ChickenFoot arrived for four days of pre-production rehearsals, followed by a private corporate concert for Best Buy on the last night,” Dorsey notes.

“Even before the house rig was turned on, the stage volume alone was 103 dB ‘A’ weighted back at mix position. I thought to myself that this was going to be a real good test of the WideLine rig - if it can keep up with this show, it will be able to do just about anyone who comes in the door.

“ChickenFoot came out of the gate at 109 dB ‘A’ (at Front of House), and it just went up from there.

But oddly enough, even at that level, the show and the system still sounded musical and not harsh,” he adds. “Very impressive indeed.”

Dorsey also says that while the previous system provided a sweet spot in the center of the room, the WideLine arrays better spread the stereo imaging throughout the room.

Along with the new main system components, The Grove also took possession of new QSC CSM Series low-profile, high-output stage monitors. The package includes six CSM12 single-12 and five CSM15 single-15 wedges.

Two more pairs of WideLine10 array modules, joined by a pair of GP118 single-18 subwoofers, serve as stage side fills, with another sub serving to supplement the drum fill.

Here, PL380 amplifiers drive the cones while PL325 amps handle the HF drivers, with digital processing split between dual QSC Basis 922 units for the floor monitors and a QSC SC28 for the four-way side fills.

Expansive Area
Once the main showroom audio systems were installed, attention turned to other areas of the complex, starting with the main lobby.

Called the Gallery, this expansive area not only serves as the main walk-up bar for the concert venue itself, but also as a stand-alone reception hall for private cocktail parties and dinner meetings.

“We often rent out the Gallery to clients for private functions and parties where entertainment is brought in to augment the event,” Dorsey says.

“And as this space is quite wide with a very high ceiling, it was decided to add a stereo ILA (Installation Line Array) system flown just above the bar. It’s great for both stand-alone events and closed-circuit playback of broadcast events, as well as overflow from the main showroom.”

Specifically, coverage here is supplied by dual four-box QSC WL2082-i arrays, each suspended from a companion WL118 single-18 subwoofer, powered by a bridged PL230 for the subs and three PL236s retained from the previous installation, and processed with another SC28.

Installation Line Arrays (ILA) flown high above the Gallery.

Another space, the Terra Rosa Room, where VIPs hang out in a more comfortable atmosphere with big cushy couches and a private bar, receives video feeds from the main showroom on large plasma screens.

This is accompanied by audio delivered by four mounted, distributed QSC K8 compact, active self-powered loudspeakers, joined by a pair of KSubs.

Sonic Excitement
At the mix position, a QSC RAVE 522 offers control, monitoring and processing for the main system as well as the remote systems, also delivering audio via CobraNet.

In addition, RAVE interfaces via WiFi with a PC tablet for portable control throughout the venue, and it also allows remote system monitoring over the Internet.

“Having the entire system under networked control not only provides us convenience and confidence,” Dorsey points out, “but it also gives us 24-hour system support.

One of the K8 compact loudspeakers suspended in the Terra Rosa Room.

If anything goes wrong, the software immediately notifies QSC via e-mail to log into the system (from anywhere in the world) and check out what is happening at that moment.

It also keeps a running log of all events such as errors, amplifier clipping, and more. This really is state of the art.”

“These new sound systems in all our public areas have really brought a new level of sonic excitement throughout the property and many of our guests have noticed and commented on the improvement,” adds Adam Millar, General Manager for The Grove.

“All of these systems really speak for themselves when it comes to how great they sound, but what I am really impressed with is the company (QSC). Their people fully get it and actually care about our success, and we couldn’t be happier about it.”

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System Profile: A Make-Over At The Grove