Orpheum Theatre ushers in a new era of opulence with d&b

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The Orpheum chain of vaudeville theatres, built in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries reflect the confident, optimistic aura of the West Coast during those years. The Orpheum on Broadway in downtown Los Angeles is a spectacular example: high vaulted ceiling, ornate crystal chandeliers, exquisite plaster work, lush velvet seating, deeply curved unsupported balcony, and classically framed proscenium arch.

From the burlesque stars of the 1920s through the likes of Duke Ellington, Aretha Franklin and Stevie Wonder, the Orpheum has seen it all. Extensively refurbished in the 1990s, the theatre now hosts TV and special events, and performances from contemporary touring acts such as Maroon 5, The Who, Naz, and Adam Lambert.

"The initial idea to have a d&b system came from me," begins Head of Audio, Jon Bullock. "I do a lot a touring work and have used many of the current systems; I knew d&b would be perfect for this room for various reasons. I still called a few sound engineers and asked visiting engineers for opinions; they all came back and said d&b would be great and certainly more than acceptable to any touring band."

The installation contract went to d&b partner AudioWest. "We had already done work with the Orpheum, providing rental systems for certain shows," explains owner, Glenn Hatch. "Although we were both very familiar with how the room worked acoustically, Jon and I did an ArrayCalc model and we settled on a V-Series specification: V8s and V12s supported by V-SUBs and J-INFRAs for some extended low end weight."

"The acoustic of the room is pretty good," adds Bullock. "It had some treatment done during the refurbishment and the sound is nice and warm and fairly tight despite the huge vaulted ceiling. The big thing is the very steep and deep balcony. In a room with a capacity of about two thousand almost half the seating is on the balcony and of course the depth of the balcony creates coverage challenges under it. Much to our delight, the long hangs of each V array reach right in under the upper tier; I left the old, under-balcony speakers there just in case but I have yet to use them. Thanks to ArrayProcessing the energy and frequency response is great from the very top of the balcony to the front rows. Fact is, we haven’t taken it out for someone else’s touring system since we completed the installation.

"AudioWest did a great job," Bullock continues. "This is a really busy venue and we only had two and a half days available, which was pretty tight. With the help of SAS Productions Audio Engineer, Mario Rodriguez, there was some extensive rewiring needed in order to use our existing patch panels and runs from stage to the amp room. We went from a 4-way active crossover system to a passively crossed system. Because of this, a good bit of the work was in the amp room. We went from twenty amplifiers running twenty speakers in pairs, to nine amps running thirty two speakers individually. With the D20 and D80s driving the system things are a lot smaller and neater down there now and I have more than enough horsepower. I am really, really happy with the system."

Picture 3 caption:
Kneeling L-R: SAS Productions/Orpheum Head Audio-Jon Bullock; SAS Productions A1-Mario Rodriguez
Standing L-R: L.A.vation Worlds greatest U2 Tribute- Bart Davis, Mike Rovatsos, Jason Theisen, Jorgen Ingmar

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