Opened in 1905, Portland Oregon’s White Eagle Café and Hotel boasts a long and colorful history adorned by legends of underground poker, Shanghai tunnels, and resident spirits.
Today the White Eagle continues under the thoughtful ownership of Mike and Brian McMenamin-the savvy brothers who grew their first brewpub into a successful chain of microbreweries, hotels and music venues across Oregon and Washington State.
Like so many historic McMenamins properties, the White Eagle embraces and celebrates its roots. Today the hotel and café is known for its unique vintage charm and nightly rock n’ roll shows—a tradition that’s seen countless local acts as well as international talent like Robert Cray, the Isley Brothers and ZZ Top.
With music playing a central role, White Eagle management recently decided to install a Vue Audiotechnik al-4 line array as the centerpiece of a major sound system overhaul. Eric Iverson of Rose City Sound worked in partnership with the White Eagle’s in-house production staff on the new design.
“Management was clear that they wanted a state-of-the-art system that would make the venue more attractive to local and national acts alike,” explained Iverson. “At the same time, maintaining the vintage aesthetics was also important, so the system had to deliver sonically while being relatively compact.”
While aesthetics dictated size requirements, the White Eagle’s narrow shape and highly reflective brick walls called for exceptional pattern control as well.
“I immediately thought that a small line array would be perfect,” admitted Iverson. “I’d heard about the VUE al-4, so I contacted the company to see about a demo. Within a matter of days I not only had an al-4 to try, but VUE’s Jeff Taylor came out personally to help us hang it.”
“Right out of the box and without any EQ, the al-4 sounded absolutely amazing,” said Chris Heinzelmann, resident sound engineer at the White Eagle. “The frequency response was exceptional from top to bottom, and the output was really impressive for such a small system. We knew pretty quickly that the al-4 was perfect for us.”
With the decision made, Iverson designed a permanent system that includes an eight element al-4 array with a single VUE V4 Systems Engine providing all amplification and DSP functions.
A VUE a-8 is mounted just behind the al-4 array for nearfield downfill, while a VUE is-18a powered subwoofer provides low frequency extension. An Allen & Heath MixWizard 16:2 handles the mix.
“Pattern control from the al-4 is exceptional,” added Iverson. “With such a long and narrow room I was really concerned about coverage. The al-4 was really easy to assemble and aim. It delivers more even coverage than anything we’ve tried in this room before.”
Feedback from the White Eagle’s technical crew has also been overwhelmingly positive, and for Iverson and the Rose City team, that’s music to their ears.
“The room has never sounded better,” Heinzelmann concludes. “And the word is definitely getting out there as more and more acts experience it first hand. We got exactly what we hoped for-great sound and a great reputation.”