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RCF HDL Series Arrays Deployed In Reinforcement Upgrade At Carolina Opry Theater

FOH engineer Michael Cook deploys eight HDL 30-A modules flown on each side of the stage and four more mounted in the center to meet his “vocal forward” criteria for the new system.
A performance at the Carolina Opry Theater supported by a system headed by RCF HDL Series arrays. (Photos provided by Carolina Opry)

RCF HDL Series line arrays were recently implemented in a new house sound reinforcement system for the Carolina Opry Theater, a 2,400-seat live performance venue in Myrtle Beach, SC that hosts a range of shows up to seven nights a week, including recent artists such as Travis Tritt, the Charlie Daniels Band and .38 Special.

When the venue’s front of house engineer, Michael Cook, began the search for a new system to replace the one that the venue had been using for much of the past 25 years, he wanted what he calls a “vocal forward” system. “I have 12 to 15 people that sing in the show and a lot of times I have 10 or 12 of them on stage at the same time,” Cook explains. “So, I have to have something that’s very intelligible. I’ve found out I can run things hotter as long as the audience can understand every word.”

He adds that when an audience member complains that the sound is too loud, basically what they’re saying is they can’t understand the vocals. “Sometimes it’s just that it’s too loud, but 99 percent of the time that equates to the intelligibility — they can’t understand what someone is singing or saying.” That “vocal forward” criteria led him to deploy to a design with eight HDL 30-A modules flown on each side of the stage and four more mounted in the center.

“I drive the vocals through the four in the center, and the rest of boxes — left and right — get everything,” he adds. Low end is reinforced by six SUB 9006-AS subwoofers, three on each side, ground stacked behind curtains.

“I wanted a quality box,” he says, “but I wanted something that was cost-effective too. It really started because of how good the box sounded and the price point.” All of the issues with the previous system have been resolved, he adds. “The HDL 30 provides very even coverage from the front to the back to the balcony. I don’t have any holes, and I’ve had a lot of guest engineers, from Travis Tritt’s guy to .38 Special to Charlie Daniels — we have those types of bands that come in and really push the rig and every one of them just loves it.”

A perspective of the venue, with arrays flying left-center-right at the stage.

The venue’s heritage stretches back to 1986 when Calvin Gilmore opened the doors of the Calvin Gilmore Theater, making the Carolina Opry was the first musical variety show to open in Myrtle Beach. A few years later, he opened a second show in North Myrtle Beach called the Dixie Jubilee, and then consolidated both shows under the Carolina Opry name in 1993 in the current venue.

Cook, who’s been with the Opry full time since 2013, cut his teeth in audio production working with Cliff Miller, founder and CEO of SE Systems in Greensboro, NC. Today, in addition to running FOH for the venue, he also owns MC Sound Consultants, based in Myrtle Beach.

That experience helped pay off when it came time to install the new system, with Cook and his team able to fly the rig in a day, with extra rigging help from Southern Rigging & Supply to help expedite the changeover. “We had one day off during our Christmas show and we were already two weeks into it,” he notes. “So, we pre-wired all the electric and pulled everything we could pull, and then came in one day and rigged and flew everything in. We started at nine o’clock on a Sunday morning — by nine o’clock that night we had sound.”

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Cook tuned the system utilizing RCF’s proprietary RDNET software. “I decided to go with the HDL 30-As because of the RDNET,” he says. “I did all my EQ in the software.”

He concludes, “We’re down here on the ocean and we [MC Sound Consultants] do a bunch of outdoors shows [mostly using RCF’s HDL 20-A arrays and SUB 8006-AS subs], and if anything can stand up to the salt air and continue to perform, it’s RCF,” he attests. “They’re very resilient and they sound great out of the box.”

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Carolina Opry