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Electro-Voice & Dynacord System Helps Revive Roof Garden Ballroom At Iowa’s Historic Arnolds Park

NLFX Professional design meets non-profit attraction’s budget requirements and desire for tour-quality sound
A perspective of the revitalized Roof Garden Ballroom at Historic Arnolds Park on opening night.

The Roof Garden Ballroom, a dance hall at Historic Arnolds Park in the Iowa Great Lakes resort region dating back to the 1800s, recently reopened as a 1,200-capacity multipurpose venue with an authentic vintage look joined by a modern sound system headed by Electro-Voice X-Line Advance X2 line array loudspeakers powered by Dynacord IPX Series DSP amplifiers.

The ballroom, which attracted artists such as Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, The Guess Who, the Glenn Miller Orchestra and many others during its heyday from 1923 to 1988, now operates as a non-profit attraction to benefit the community.

The revitalized venue and new system enabled the park to celebrate its history with a series of concert events featuring artists who played at the original venue, with Tommy James & The Shondells provided the honor of headlining the first concert.

“Tommy James played the original Roof Garden six times going back to 1966, so they were the perfect act to open the new building,” notes Jeff Vierkant, CEO of Historic Arnolds Park. “It was a packed house. They put on a fantastic show, and the sound quality was incredible.”

Designed and installed by NLFX Professional (Bemidji, MN), the Electro-Voice loudspeaker system consists of twin eight-box X2-212 line arrays, with five 90-degree enclosures flown above three 120-degree versions. Low frequencies are supplied via six X12/128 dual 18-inch subwoofers. A set of four Fri-28LPM line the stage lip as front fills, helping to ensure full coverage.

Three Dynacord IPX20:4 DSP amplifiers drive the rig, each capable of supplying up to 20 kW of power. The intelligent amplifiers also provide a built-in OMNEO/Dante interface for networking the system, plus FIR-Drive and additional system DSP for centralized control of the entire sound system. The system is controlled from a laptop via IRIS-Net software. Presets make it easier to operate the system while still affording advanced control.

“This was a really nice rig – really smooth, with tons of headroom,” reports John Lynch, FOH engineer for Tommy James and the Shondells. “We run an old school rock ’n’ roll stage, with classic guitar amps and no in-ears. The EV system had the punch to get over that easily, yet with excellent clarity. And the subs are amazing. We were moving a lot of air – shook all the dust out of that room.”

The band’s monitor engineer, John Melasippo, had access to the venue’s new stage system, also courtesy of Electro-Voice. Available loudspeakers include 10 Xw15A 15-inch floor wedges, with three Dynacord IPX10:8 DSP amps providing power along with network connectivity. One ETX-18SP powered subwoofer is also available as a drum monitor.

“We couldn’t have done this without NLFX Professional, who did a fantastic job,” adds Vierkant. “Ben Stowe really made sure we were well taken care of. He designed a system that sounds fantastic from every seat in the house. He also trained our local sound engineers on the system, and got it all installed and perfectly tuned on our short timeline. Great company.”

NLFX Professional

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