Duke Family Performance Hall upgrades aging sound system with A-Series.

As one of the region's finest performance venues, the Duke Family Performance Hall at Davidson College has quickly become a popular cultural resource for the Charlotte Metro area. The 600 plus seat proscenium theatre is housed within the Knobloch Campus Center along with the Alvarez College Union, creating a seamless relationship between academics, art, entertainment and college community life.

The hall was made possible by a gift from The Duke Endowment, a private foundation that serves the people of North and South Carolina by supporting selected programs in higher education, health care, children's welfare and spiritual, and has been a major benefactor to the college during an association that has endured more than seventy five years.

“Davidson College has always shown a strong backing when it comes to the arts,” states Brandon Kincaid, Senior Stage Technician, Duke Family Performance Hall. “Not only does Davidson host a strong music, theatre, and dance scene within the student body but we also have multiple programs designed to bring professional touring artists, musicians, regional Broadway productions, and dance companies to campus on a regular basis. This split between these professional and student based events brought unique challenges to the hall. Back in 2014, I decided we needed to do something about our aging sound system and that started our journey. The Covid pandemic created the opportunity to take our venue ‘offline’ to complete this renovation. Thanks to recommendations by SE Systems, also located in Charlotte, the end result is a great combination between d&b A-Series loudspeakers and a DiGiCo SD12 console that has created a venue that feels alive.”

“The A-Series is a great option for this venue because of its great pattern control and ability for horizontal array,” states Sam Trexler, Project Manager, SE Systems. “We ended up using four A-Series arrays of two boxes each to cover the room from L/R positions. There is an upper set and a lower set. The end result was excellent L/R coverage for all seats in the house. The room is not very deep, but it has two balconies that limit speaker placement options. The Y10P center cluster boxes were chosen for their pattern control and small size. We needed to hide the center cluster in front of the subs so as not to add any more lighting obstructions. We chose the T10 loudspeakers for under balcony duty as the ceiling height is only nine feet and we needed to keep the audio off the rear wall and ceiling. The 35 x 105 pattern was ideal for covering this space.”

Trexler said the d&b Certified Pre Owned (CPO) J-SUB was chosen for its frequency response and ability to be driven to full capacity on a 30D amplifier. “The original plan was to use ground stacked subs left and right on the stage, however this did not give even low frequency coverage for the room due to the balcony overhangs. d&b ArrayCalc was essential in helping us determine that a center hung sub array would be a great option for two reasons; one, it would provide even coverage for the house, and two, it would free up stage real estate.

The best part about the CPO J-SUB is that even though they’re pre-owned they look and function like brand new with a great price point, plus full warranty.Sam Trexler, Project Manager, SE Systems

Trexler added the SD12 was a great fit for the client as Kincaid was looking for a console that would give the hall future growth options and be rider friendly for the travelling shows that frequent the venue. “The SD12 was quite a step up from the previous console they had been using. We paired the SD12 with DiGiCo 4rea4 and SD-rack with 32-bit cards allowing for great flexibility in how the system can be configured while still enabling the system to run at 96 kHz.”

At low volumes the system feels well balanced and delicate. And, it has zero issues when I push the pedal! The CPO J-SUBS create a full and substantial low end without being overpowering or out of balance. The room sounds great; we have very even coverage in all seats of the house. The PA system has the ability to provide delicate supplement for acoustic opera all the way through the student led EDM shows. The rider friendly PA system will be a huge plus to drawing shows to this venue.Brandon Kincaid, Senior Stage Technician, Duke Family Performance Hall

Kincaid continues,“The current show, Unveiled & Unvarnished, sounds better on the new PA with masks than any show ever sounded on the old PA without masks.”

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