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The production of "On Your Feet" in full swing at the GALA Hispanic Theatre in Washington, DC, supported by a new system incorporating d&b audiotechnik loudspeakers and subwoofers. (Photo Credit: GALA Hispanic Theatre)

Audio Remake At GALA Hispanic Theatre In Washington, D.C. Headed By d&b A-Series

Integrator FC-Production outfits National Center for Latino Performing Arts with unique sound design employing A-Series clusters joined by recently introduced 44S compact loudspeakers for fill and delay.

The GALA (Grupo de Artistas Latino Americanos) Hispanic Theatre, the National Center for Latino Performing Arts located in Washington, DC, recently received a sound reinforcement upgrade by integration firm FC-Production (based in Washington) that’s headed by d&b audiotechnik A-Series arrays joined by recently introduced 44S compact loudspeakers and more.

The celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month and recent presentation of the hit production “On Your Feet: La historia de Emilio y Gloria Estefan en español” prompted the theatre to upgrade the house system in consideration that the music and sound is a principal character of the musical. The project focused on balancing the acoustics of the house while also upgrading loudspeaker coverage as well as increasing the SPL potential while reducing the house system’s impact on the stage.

Set on top of the former Tivoli Theatre’s balcony, the house design utilizes the original balcony’s stepped concrete for its seating. Added “shoulders” offer a more intimate scale, and the dome of the theatre is preserved at the stipulation of the historical society. There are 241 orchestra seats, 20 cabaret balcony seats, and four wheelchair accessible spaces.

“The stage is now where the open space for the orchestra used to be, and it created a lot of acoustic challenges,” explains Joseph Foley, operations manager for FC-Productions. “When the space (originally a 1920’s movie house) was redeveloped previously, the developer ran I-beams from the front of the balcony to the proscenium of the old theatre, then they built a stage roughly 30 feet above the old orchestra seating. This new location placed the center of the stage directly under the preserved dome.

“The dome, which was theoretically designed to augment acoustics to the original audience locations, was now creating direct reflections and flanging effects onto the stage,” he continues. “These acoustic anomalies make it difficult for performers near the center of the stage and reflect certain sounds from the stage to the audience in an unbalanced way.”

Foley says that the first challenge was to reduce as much of that reflection as possible: “This was first accomplished by strategically placing engineered acoustic panels between the trussing of the stage and the dome. Since the artistic administration at the venue likes to light the dome, there was a bit of a balancing act on how to place the tiles, but their final placements dramatically improved the stage-to-dome-to-stage reflections.”

The second challenge was to design a PA that offered more even coverage for patrons while limiting on-stage spill and reducing the amount of low-end energy exiting the rear of the cabinets into the dome. “The d&b ALi cabinets offered a great solution for our second challenge. Their flexible orientation and low profile allowed for the best coverage possible in the space,” Foley says. “Additionally, the larger drivers allow for a great low-end extension. This gives the sound system a more even transition from the AL to the V-SUBs. The 44s loudspeakers were selected for their compact size and mounting options. They were easy to integrate into the small frontfill positions, where most other cabinets with their capabilities would have been too large.”

One of the new d&b A-Series clusters in place at the GALA Hispanic Theatre. (Photo Credit: FC-Production)

Three clusters of A-Series cabinets are deployed. For the left and right systems, FC-Production decided on matched dual Ali90 loudspeakers flown in horizontal clusters, while at center, three AL60 boxes are flown vertically. Four 44s are built into the lip of the stage as frontfills using the back-box flush mount accessory, taking advantage of the adjustable aiming angle to focus their pattern into the front rows of the orchestra. These are amplified in an inner/outer configuration, with two boxes for the center orchestra and one box on each outer section.

Two more 44s are flown vertically from delay positions on each side of the venue for balcony coverage. Each cabinet is amplified separately to allow for individual timing and EQ control.

“We chose two V-SUBs deployed solo on either side of the proscenium to assist with sub frequency coverage,” Foley adds. “The V-SUBs were chosen specifically to reduce the low-frequency reproduction on stage which was accomplished by placement and their inherent cardioid pattern. The amplification package is three 30D amplifiers that drive the system delay and room EQ correction.”

“GALA Hispanic Theatre would not have been able to produce its current hit production, ‘On Your Feet: La historia de Emilio y Gloria Estefan en español’ without the major sound upgrade carried out by FC-Production, states executive director Rebecca Medrano, “and it being the principal character in this musical, their work resonated throughout the entire space.”

“Thank you to our band and our sound design team and FC-Production for bringing such great equipment to the GALA Theatre — best sound I have ever had in that space; so very grateful,” adds Luis Salgado, director for On Your Feet. “Joe Foley and his team made history inside a Latin theatrical house, and I am beyond grateful for the great sound quality we’ve enjoyed on this production.”

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