Riverlinks Theatre, the largest civic theatre in Shepparton in northern Victoria, Australia, hosts various weekly events: from touring bands and musicians to exhibitions and banquets. The flexible venue possesses a balcony above a retractable seating system that holds 825 theatre-goers or 450 banquet guests. The venue located two hours north of Melbourne recently installed a brand-new PA system to accommodate its versatile range of events.
Around the mid-2010s, Matt Schroeders, Technical Manager of Riverlinks Theatre, knew that the old system was starting to become a liability to the theatre’s regular event production objectives and its users. Schroeders developed a replacement proposal for the Greater Shepparton Council, which owns and runs the theatre, but it was initially rejected. Determined, Schroeders persevered, revising his proposal with further details about the total cost and clearly outlining the benefits of a new system. The council accepted the proposal, and a brand new PA system made its way into its annual budget.
While an event-restrictive global pandemic was a blow to the industry, it offered Schroeders and his team the time to manage the long and arduous process of selecting the new PA system and the partner that would install it.
Just three tenders for a listening demo “shootout” were issued, and Riverlinks allowed each party to demonstrate the system in the theatre, requesting that they present a solution for both room configurations: a flat floor and a tiered seating module. For a comprehensive review of each of the systems presented, Schroeders and the theatre’s technical co-coordinator Peter O’Keefe were joined by the venue manager, a representative from the venue’s procurement department, and a non-technical reviewer who could provide an unbiased opinion.
After the shootout, Light & Sound Solutions came out on top with a sound design based around the Kiva II variable curvature line array. O’Keefe explained: “Kiva II is designed for our kind of venue. It ticked every box without trying. It wasn’t being pushed beyond its limits; it wasn’t being shoehorned to make it work. The other systems arguably sounded just as good when cranked up, but Kiva II was exceptional at low volumes—retaining a beautiful full-range clarity.”
Both L-Acoustics Kiva II presented by Daniel Thomas, Director at Light & Sound, and his team shone. They knew that a Kiva II array with six or more boxes and two or three subwoofers came in well under 250kg, which was the preferred weight limitation for the venue.
The system, installed by Light & Sound and provided by local L-Acoustics Certified Provider Distributor Jands, consists of eight Kiva II enclosures per side flown next to three SB15m subwoofers in cardioid mode to minimise low-frequency spill onto the stage. Underneath the stage are a pair of KS21 subwoofers which were not part of the original tender shootout.
“Light & Sound brought 21-inch subs to the shootout, even though this was not part of the brief or budget,” recalls Peter O’Keefe. O’Keefe and Schroeders instantly adored the extra octave of bandwidth that the 21-inch boxes provided and subsequently upgraded the stage infrastructure to house them.
Light & Sound configured five LA4X amplified controllers with presets for the three main room modes: tiered seating, flat floor, and flat floor with balcony, easily ensuring even coverage, both tonally and in terms of SPL for the venue’s various applications, without the need to rehang or adjust the array trim.
Now, as the Shepparton community comes out of pandemic restrictions, the re-opening of the newly equipped theatre is especially welcome. “We can put on a dance contest on Friday, a networking banquet on Saturday, and a congregation’s conference on Sunday. With a potentially diverse program of weekends like these, our PA needs to be just as versatile,” explains O’Keefe of Riverlinks Theatre. “With this versatile and easily adaptable Kiva II system now installed, the theatre is a true all-rounder in classic country town style.”