When Ray Gintner IV, manager of theatre operations for the Jim Wise Theatre at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), enlisted the services of David Kotch, president of Criterion Acoustics, to design a new audio system for the premier presentation space, the duo turned to Masque Sound to deliver a custom audio equipment package.
Built in 1965, the 425-seat Jim Wise Theatre has a proscenium-arch stage that has played host to large-cast musicals and original comedies under renowned directors. The NJIT also uses the theatre for various faculty and administrative functions, Student Senate Organization events and two shows produced by the theatre arts program each fiscal year.
Back in the 1980s, the school purchased a used sound system for the theatre, which served it well for quite some time. A few years ago, however, it began to show its age and started having some problems. When the system failed completely, it became necessary to find a replacement.
The school hired Criterion Acoustics to design a new audio system and they subsequently determined the equipment lists for the project.
“Masque Sound was the only company able to provide the complete equipment requirement,” says Gintner.
“We purchased the equipment, and were using it on a temporary basis. We were able to afford the speaker arrays, front of house console and some of the support equipment, but none of the install gear to connect the equipment together. Whenever we needed to use the system for a larger show that had the budget, we turned to Masque Sound for a rental package and brought in temporary power distribution, cabling and supporting equipment as if it were a road package. This level of service and expertise impressed people at the university, and helped move the budgeting process forward for purchasing permanent install equipment.”
Criterion Acoustics’ goal in the design was to provide even coverage for a variety of program materials, ranging from live music performances to drama.
“NJIT needed a quality system, but it also needed to be cost effective,” Kotch says. “As it is an existing theatre, routing infrastructure and incorporating motorized rigging without a lot of demolition is always tricky. Fortunately, we have worked extensively with Masque Sound throughout the years and knew they could handle the job. They are a great theatrical integrator and very detail oriented. They also provide great support for the finished product.”
The loudspeaker system Masque Sound provided was comprised of Meyer Sound and Fulcrum Acoustics equipment. The main arrays were Meyer Sound M’elodie, selected due to their compact size, dispersion properties, weight and the fact that they are self-powered. Two Meyer Sound 700-HPs handle the low end in the venue and deliver high SPL.
Fulcrum Acoustics front fills were used with a Lab.gruppen C16:4 amplifier. The system Criterion Acoustics designed for NJIT was unique in that it slightly over-specified the size of the subwoofers, at students’ request. The Fulcrum Acoustics front fills and Meyer Sound M’elodie main arrays both reduced infrastructure.
The theatre now utilizes a Yamaha CL3 as its main audio console.
“The Dante compatibility on the Yamaha console is really powerful,” adds Kotch. “I think it is a great console for its price point, and user friendly for the university environment. The client utilizes the virtual recording option to record shows and playback as an instructional tool. The Dante Virtual soundcard is used for QLab playback. The power you get with the CL3 is great.”
In addition to providing the equipment, Masque Sound also managed the rigging to fly the arrays, and installed and terminated all low voltage AV wire. In addition, they closely coordinated the installation of an isolated power system.
“Masque Sound was very professional, effective and wonderful to collaborate with,” adds Gintner. “If we had any questions, they were available right away and were always willing to take a minute to talk. In addition, Eric Johnson, sound designer and audio engineer with the joint theatre program, did a lot of the initial design work with [David], and was a valuable asset to the team. He is my go-to guy whenever I have any audio-specific questions. The completed theatre sounds great thanks to all that were involved with this project.”