Widgets Magazine

Strand Theatre solves longstanding acoustic issues with customized Renkus-Heinz system

FOOTHILL RANCH, California — The Earl and Rachel Smith Strand Theatre began its life as a motion picture house in 1935 in the growing Atlanta suburb of Marietta, Georgia. Over the years, the location transformed multiple times – the theater’s website notes it was used for “a number of ventures” across multiple decades. But as age caught up with the theater, it temporarily shuttered in 2002, seeking new renters.

The theater found new life when a community-led non-profit worked to “Bring Back The Strand” and renovated the space into a full-time public theater devoted to live performance. It reopened in 2009 after a restoration that reintroduced red and gold architectural flourishes to the space.

However, the venue still had one challenge: the space wasn’t designed in line with traditional acoustical considerations. Reverberant surfaces and a uniquely constructed balcony resulted in poor intelligibility across the audience. So, after a decade of performances, the Strand Theatre turned to Renkus-Heinz to solve its acoustical issues.

“The community had noticed the sound had been lackluster for a while,” said James Denmon, owner of Denmon Technical Services – the firm that integrated the new audio system at the Strand Theatre. “They’d tried multiple ways to fix it over the years, but it never quite sounded its best. That changed when we brought in a Renkus-Heinz system as a demo. They were very, very surprised by the difference it made.”

The theater’s new audio system utilizes the Renkus-Heinz ICLive X Series – featuring four different arrays each made up of two loudspeakers – to ensure effective coverage across the entire space. The ICLive X Series is the culmination of over a decade of experience in steerable line arrays and is the latest evolution of the medium-format, steerable line array in the Renkus-Heinz line. The ICLive X offers all the benefits of Renkus-Heinz’ steerable technology – allowing for sound to be digitally positioned precisely on the audience.

Denmon built out the ICLive X arrays in the “lower” position using an ICLXL module and an ICLLX module, which allows for the high frequency section of the device to be positioned precisely and offer a longer beam throw. The “upper” arrays use one ICLX and one ICLXL module.

Two Renkus-Heinz CA-82 two-way Complex Conic loudspeakers are also installed to provide coverage for “extreme” front fills within five feet of the front of house. Complex Conic constant directivity waveguide design is another Renkus-Heinz innovation ensuring consistent coverage across a space.

Rounding out the integration are four Renkus-Heinz PN212 dual 12-inch subwoofers, which deliver maximum low frequency impact.

“The space was challenging because of a very deep under balcony and over balcony,” said Jeremy Alison, president of Alison Technical Concepts and consultant on the project. “We didn’t have much access to the ceiling for rigging, yet we also didn’t want to put traditional speakers all over the place because we wanted to keep the lines clean. We wanted the theater to look great when we were done. The answer was to work with Renkus-Heinz, not just for the superior sound quality, but for the way the speakers look as well.”

Renkus-Heinz provides custom fabrication of speakers from its Foothill Ranch, California facility. For the installation at The Strand Theatre, the speakers were painted gold and red to blend in with the aesthetics.

“Now it looks incredible and sounds incredible,” Alison said. “Honestly, this is the best sounding system I have heard in a performance theatre in the past five years. And everyone at the theater agrees.”

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