A recent technology update at the Weathervane Community Playhouse in Akron, OH includes the addition of 16 channels of 3000 Series wireless microphone systems from Audio-Technica.
“Throughout Weathervane’s history, we upgraded technology whenever we could,” says Melanie YC Pepe, Weathervane’s Chief Executive Artistic Director. Those upgrades have included a mainstage fly system, monitoring for the orchestra and lobby, new audio consoles, modern lighting including LED and moving fixtures, and a new house PA. “We continue to look at ways to ‘up our game’ every season.”
Since beginning its run in 1935, the playhouse has presented a wide spectrum of plays, from classics to new works, spanning dramas, comedies, musicals and more. Working first out of an empty carriage house (and named after the rooster on the barn’s cupola), Weathervane moved first in 1951 to a more substantial building with a seating capacity of 150, then in the early 70s to its current 240-seat facility.
The playhouse has an inventory of Audio-Technica gear that includes AT4033a and AT2020 wired mics, and its Akron location is a short drive from A-T’s U.S. headquarters in nearby Stow. “We love that A-T is right down the street from us and is always willing to answer questions and assist with suggestions,” explains Christopher Pepe, President of Akron-based Clear Gold Audio and Lighting, an event production company that is a major sponsor of the playhouse and helped in the decision to implement the 16 channels of 3000 Series systems.
At Weathervane, an RF Venue Diversity Fin cross-polarized wireless microphone antenna feeds four cascaded RF Venue DISTRO4 distribution amplifiers that each feed four 3000 Series wireless receivers. The fourth-generation 3000 Series system has a stated 300-foot operating range and a 60 MHz tuning range.
“The A-T 3000 series gave us everything we were looking for and more,” Christopher Pepe says. “The backup channels have completely eliminated the signal drop issues we have dealt with in the past – we have not experienced a single drop out. The mics sound fantastic even before they are EQ’ed. Rechargeable battery pack technology was a huge plus – in years past Weathervane recycled about 3,000 batteries a year.”
Eight A-T dual-charging bays let the playhouse volunteers easily manage battery readiness. “We have been able to run two productions with two rechargeable batteries for each pack,” notes Fred Gloor, Weathervane’s Associate Artistic Director. “The life of the battery is estimated at least two years, which will save us thousands of dollars and have a much smaller footprint on our environment.”
“Our audio has been clearer, more balanced, easier to mix, and much more consistent,” Gloor concludes. Though live performances are on hiatus due to pandemic mass gathering restrictions, Weathervane is continuing the education element of its mission online and producing cabaret performances and short film projects for virtual distribution.