Alcons Pro-Ribbon Systems are in a Class of Their Own

The Long Forum

Greater Atlanta Christian School (GACS) is a PK-12 Christian school in Norcross, Georgia serving over 1,600 students. The school is a faith-infused, academically rich community, ranked at the top of the state for teaching quality, arts, and athletics. Since it was first established over 50 years ago, GACS has earned itself a reputation for utilizing advanced technologies in its quest to further the learning needs of its students. This dedication to providing high quality creative and technical facilities to support its arts and media curriculum, has led the school to invest in three state-of-the-art Alcons Audio pro-ribbon sound reinforcement systems for its venues.

The first of the three spaces to be installed with an Alcons system was the Artusa Hall Performing Arts Center, a former chapel which the school repurposed into a performing arts venue. This included completely rebuilding the interior, adding a self-supporting timber framed balcony, and increasing the audience capacity from 700 to 950. A key requirement was to deliver the best technical facilities, but not to visually detract from the internal architecture. In a venue featuring highly reflective, polished wood surfaces and a glass balcony front, it was a perfect scenario for the Alcons LR7 pro-ribbon micro line-array.

“They wanted something that would deliver great sound for everything from solo classical recitals to drama, ballet, orchestra, choir and bands, including renting the venue to outside performers,” said Alex Fleming of Atlanta-based Lodestar Labs.

The Artusa Hall system comprised arrays of six LR7/90 (6.5”) micro line array modules and two LR7B single 12” bass modules per side, flown just in front of the proscenium arch. Two, floor mounted BC332 cardioid subwoofers (18” front / 15” rear) per side add extra low end where required. A single SR9 double 5” in-fill monitor provided front fill for the first few rows, and four 6.5” TS3 full range monitors provide the under-balcony fills. Two VR12i and two VR12iM mid-size versatile 12” monitors deliver high quality stage monitoring. The whole system is powered and controlled by four Sentinel10 amplified loudspeaker controllers.

“We first heard Alcons systems when demoing speakers for the Artusa Hall and we were blown away by the L-series boxes,” says GACS audio visual technician JD Cooper. “We immediately realized that the pro-ribbon systems are phenomenal. The accuracy and clarity is unmatched by traditional compression drivers.”

After hearing how the LR7 pro-ribbon system transformed the sound of the Artusa Hall, the technical team at GACS enthusiastically chose Alcons to replace existing, underperforming PAs in two more of its venues, the Clifton Jones Theater and the Long Forum.

The Clifton Jones Theater had similar requirements to the Artusa Hall including exceptional speech and music reproduction with very high gain before feedback, complemented by minimal visual impact.

The LR7 micro line array system was again the optimum solution, with five LR7/90 and one LR7B per side for the main system, plus a pair of 8” VR8 stage monitors, all powered and controlled by two Sentinel3 amplified loudspeaker controllers.

“Some of the unique features of the Alcons pro-ribbon systems are the fast transient response and significantly reduced distortion commonly associated with compression driver-based systems,” says Alex, “Together they deliver the most natural reproduction of music, effects and the human voice.”

The largest of the three spaces, the Long Forum is a 4000-seat arena that also serves as auditorium for national touring acts, larger assemblies and athletic events. As is typical of these larger gymnatoriums, there were a variety of significant design challenges including the highly reverberant space and multi-use requirement.

For the main left/right concert system, nine Alcons LR18 2 by 8” mid-size line array modules per side were specified. Two VR12 mid-sized 12” versatile monitors were utilized in horizontal orientation for out-fills. The system is supplemented by four BC543 (triple 18” active cardioid) subwoofers.

“The Alcons subwoofer technology continuously delivers incredible impact, while also minimizing over-exciting the acoustic space in areas where the audience isn’t present,” adds Alex. It is notable that the four Alcons subwoofers replaced sixteen dual 18-inch subwoofers by a different manufacturer and the four Alcons units delivered a cleaner sound and 10db more SPL, with more to spare if needed.

Also, in the Long Forum, an arena system was installed for basketball games and half-court assemblies. Utilizing seven RR12 point source array modules, comprised of 6” pro-ribbon drivers and 12” woofers, deployed horizontally in three unique array clusters of two, three and two cabinets each.

The entire Long Forum system is powered and controlled by seven Sentinel10 amplified loudspeaker controllers.

For portable applications GACS added a pair of 8” VR8 compact versatile monitors. The VR8 is a 2-way ultra-compact multi-purpose loudspeaker that makes a powerful, flexible, and easy to deploy, compact portable system.

GACS audio visual technician Ben Chambless comments, “We are fortunate to have multiple Alcons systems on our campus. I’m blown away at the intelligibility and detail. The gain before feedback is exceptional. I’m amazed at how much sound can come out of speakers this size!”

His colleague JD Cooper agreed. “The diversity of the boxes is wonderful, as there is a perfect solution for almost any application,” he said. “My favorite thing about Alcons speakers is that people immediately notice how fantastic they sound. You don’t have to explain the technology to them, they already understand that this is a different kind of speaker.”

In conclusion, Alex stated: “Nothing in our experience is similar to the sonic excellence heard throughout the Alcons systems. The handling of sources as they move through the loudness curve is unmatched – vocals at high SPL are the cleanest, most natural we’ve ever heard. Directivity, feedback rejection, technology, ease of deployment and other factors are also industry leading.

“The customer really loves the Alcons pro-ribbon systems and has noticed superior results in all three venues, continues Alex. “Less EQ is needed to get excellent tone on each channel and little corrective EQ is needed to reduce feedback on even the most challenging of lavalier or headset mics. They have also said that the sonic width of the Alcons solutions are superior to all other speaker systems that have previously been used or auditioned in the spaces.”