An audio reinforcement system based on Meyer Sound CAL 64 column array loudspeakers has boosted the performing arts at The Classical Academy in Colorado Springs by providing exceptional flexibility and superlative sound quality in the school’s new 635-seat theatre. Equipped with advanced beam steering and beam splitting capabilities, the discreet CAL loudspeakers ensure clear articulation for spoken word and amplified events within a relatively reverberant room acoustic that is eminently suitable for jazz bands and choral performances.
The new theatre building at the North Campus of the Classical Academy was designed by LKA Partners of Colorado Springs, under the direction of Principal Architect Jim Cook. The audio, video and stage lighting systems were designed and installed by Bob Langlois and Daryl Porter of Second Opinion Audio (SOA), also of Colorado Springs. Consulting on use and performance requirements on behalf of the school were Theatre Director Kaye von Kessel and Secondary Fine Arts Assistant Brittany Thiele along with Fine Arts Department Lead Carrie Stedman and Bands Director Christina Schwartz-Soper.
For Brittany, who is principally responsible for theatre technology operations, the new system has been a revelation. “We have had several different events in the room so far, including a choral presentation that was mostly acoustic and a full Broadway-style musical performance,” she reported. “The coverage was even and smooth whether I kept the levels low or whether I had multiple, highly amplified instruments and singers. I’ve walked the space myself, and I’ve heard only good things from the audiences. I love the headroom I’m getting, as it makes mixing above a live pit orchestra much easier. Also, the CAL loudspeakers are extremely low profile so we don’t compromise aesthetics as we had to in previous years.”
The main proscenium system comprises two CAL 64 loudspeakers, each in a beam-splitting configuration with coverage tailored to the theatre’s two seating tiers: the lower beam with a 20 degree vertical spread and 4 degree down tilt; the upper beam with a 10 degree vertical spread and aimed straight ahead. The Meyer Sound complement also includes two 750-LFC low frequency control elements, two stand-mounted UPJunior loudspeakers for stage-side foldback, and two MM-4XP miniature self-powered loudspeakers in the orchestra pit for the conductor.
“The CAL-based system was an ideal and affordable solution for this theatre,” explained SOA’s Bob Langlois. “They wanted a fairly long room reverb time for their band and vocal concerts, but they also needed control and intelligibility for jazz concerts and musical theatre. When we arranged a demonstration of CAL technology in the school gymnasium, with its very long reverb time, they were quickly convinced.”
The new system received its first major workout with the school’s production of Disney’s Broadway musical version of The Little Mermaid. For Brittany, the clarity and linearity of the system eased some of the complications that often accompany high school productions. “We were running 15 body mics for a cast of 50 kids, so there was a lot of switching,” Brittany recalled. “I had to do some EQ for different voice qualities, but I didn’t have to do corrective EQ to fix things. Also, I didn’t have to worry about fuzz or the system being less conducive to one frequency range over another. Whereas most other systems have a significant volume drop from front to back, which shrinks your headroom and increases the risk of feedback, I have not experienced this with the CAL system. The volume decrease is very slight in comparison.”
Although deferring to Brittany on technical matters, TCA Theatre Director Kaye von Kessel was equally pleased with the results. “The sound system is awesome,” she stated. “Brittany handles the technical side and I get to sit and soak up the results. Also, we have been very pleased with the responsive service of Second Opinion Audio and their readiness to answer all our questions.”
On the audio side, SOA’s AVL package also included a Midas M32 digital mixing console with three DL16 stage racks, a four-channel Clear-Com theatrical intercom, and 70V backstage ancillary systems. SOA also provided the full theatrical lighting system and a 26-foot wide video screen.
Known for exceptional musicality as well as unsurpassed speech clarity, Meyer Sound CAL column array loudspeakers achieve class-leading performance through a combination of proprietary DSP algorithms and uncompromising attention to the fundamentals of beam-steering technology: very tight driver spacing plus individual processing and amplification for each driver. CAL loudspeakers have ample power for outdoor sports stadium installations (Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina and Azteca Stadium in Mexico City) as well as the immaculate audio fidelity required for concert halls like the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and the Musikverein in Vienna.
Established in 1997, The Classical Academy has an enrollment of more than 3,700 students in seven programmes from kindergarten through senior high, making it the largest “brick and mortar” charter school in Colorado. TCA has been recognised with a number of prestigious awards, including the John Irwin Award for Academic Excellence, a number one ranking from Colorado Grades Schools, and The Governor’s Distinguished Improvement Award for the TCA High School and College Pathways Programme.