Belleville, Ontario, Canada (July 23, 2004)–The Empire Theatre, a classic 700-seat venue built in 1938, and re-opened as the Empire Theatre & Centre for the Performing Arts in 2003 after an extensive 18-month renovation, hosts premium concerts and also shows surround-sound cinema presentations. The sound for both applications is handled by a Symetrix MH-3 SymNet system.
According to Arthur Skdura, the project’s media technology consultant, the SymNet system allowed for the house to be optimized for both music and film sound applications, and accomplish that without interfering with the Theatre’s restored interior aesthetics.
Skdura created master programs for each specific application, with highly customized sub-program pages allowing the SymNet to adapt to any type of event. “For instance, for film sound, we were able to set up pages that would turn on or off individual sound system components, such as turning off a left-side mid-range driver or the high-frequency driver in the center cluster,” Skdura explained. “For music, we can configure the page for a full-range system and also automatically set up an aux send for a subwoofer. Every program, live or pre-recorded, is different and has its own nuances. SymNet allowed us to create programs for many possibilities that the Theatre staff can call up, via the ARC remote, and have the Theatre adapt itself to the music. Even within an event’s program, they can have perfectly tuned sound, such a page for a 5.1-surround film playback, followed by a program set up for a panel discussion about the film afterwards.
“The fact that this is all menu driven from the Symetrix ARC remote means the Theatre staff has a great degree of control over the system sound, yet has a foolproof way of addressing it, since we were able to create programs for so many possible applications.”
The SymNet system is located at the Soundcraft SM12 FOH console, and allows the system to toggle between the Theatre’s two primary applications using preset I/O configurations. A pair of ARC remote controllers for the SymNet are set up both at the FOH position and in the projection booth. “We didn’t use half the DSP power the system has,” continued Skdura, “yet that programming was the key to it all, because sound engineers and projectionists don’t have to worry about reconfiguring the space for each new use.”
SymNet controls a sound system based on EAW MQ speakers. A flown center cluster consisting of two MQV-1364E three-way boxes and an MQM-1215 low-frequency cabinet handles both the LCR array chores for cinema sound and LCR for live shows, with eight EAW SB1000ZPI subs sited beneath the stage. Cinema and music performances further use nine EAW CR-721 surround speakers mounted on the side and rear walls.