You are here

Old question, revisited. Gear for a 300 seat high school performance theater ?

For performing musicians and engineers: stagecraft, engineering and gear.

Old question, revisited. Gear for a 300 seat high school performance theater ?

Postby JohnW63 » Sat Apr 13, 2019 2:25 am

As before, I work at a school district and I am trying to help one school get quotes for gear to replace their 20 year old sound ( and lighting ) equipment. There goal is to teach kids on what they will need to know , out in the industry.

The quotes and prices we gotten and even advice from "experts" I was revered to seem to have a wide range of products and some rather expensive.

For instance, one was quoting a Yamaha CL5 ( around $20,000 before you add stage boxes and such ) and Renkis Heinz line arrays, a pair of ICL-F-DUAL-RN and a subwoofer. ( About $45,000 ) .

Other interested parties all suggest at least a Yamaha QL5 ( About $14,000 )

I keep thinking that this is a lot of over kill for the level of use a high school will need. Am I wrong in thinking a decent Allen and Heath or full size Behringer X32 would fit the mix needs for a performance / stage theater ?

Are there any other line array brands I should point the staff at that cost less than the Renkis Heinz ?

The last vendor that came by today was thinking more along those lines and thought the X32 would be fine and mentioned he's had really good results with the network connection feeds with it than others. That differing opinion made me decide to ask here.
JohnW63
Regular
Posts: 101
Joined: Mon Mar 28, 2016 12:00 am

Re: Old question, revisited. Gear for a 300 seat high school performance theater ?

Postby Bob Bickerton » Sat Apr 13, 2019 6:53 am

In a nutshell, yes there’s lots of good alternatives at lower prices.

In terms of desks, whilst the Yamaha desks are good, the likes of Allen and Heath, Soundcraft and Behringer alternatives would be more than adequate for high school productions.

What are the acoustics of the room like? I’d have thought a large line-array system would be overkill.

I recently installed a very good system into a very live acoustic venue that seats 300 people and the cost was around US$15,000. I commissioned German speaker manufacturer Fohhn to design a system using their Linea series (I already have three of their systems myself) and it is really very good indeed. So you could go to a highly acclaimed manufacturer for a design, but you need to be confident they will not try and oversell!

Alternatively you could approach a professional acoustician who would come in and measure the space and design a bespoke system for the space.

Sounds like someone is trying to take you for a ride.......

Bob
User avatar
Bob Bickerton
Frequent Poster (Level2)
Posts: 3772
Joined: Fri Dec 20, 2002 1:00 am
Location: Nelson, New Zealand
http://www.bickerton.co.nz

Re: Old question, revisited. Gear for a 300 seat high school performance theater ?

Postby AlecSp » Sat Apr 13, 2019 5:14 pm

There's nothing wrong with top end gear if you have the budget.

But, in a school, it's unlikely that you'll have the budget for that end. But also bear in mind the abuse that school gear typically gets.

X32s are very popular in schools, as they're highly capable, yet cheap to the point of being easily replaceable.

You talk about being able to teach the young people what to expect out in industry, but is that really appropriate. Unless you're a performing arts school, then surely barely any of your students will go into that industry? And, if you are, then you're likely to be able to partner with vendors.

And, even then, there's so many different options in industry, it's pointless to teach them one product, when they need to be adaptable to whatever they meet. They need capability and people skills over all! Also, I get frustrated at the few college-educated engineers that I come across who struggle to work without all the latest and best gear, when this job often requires dealing with what you are given, including fault finding.
AlecSp
Regular
Posts: 316
Joined: Tue Nov 16, 2004 1:00 am

Re: Old question, revisited. Gear for a 300 seat high school performance theater ?

Postby JohnW63 » Sat Apr 13, 2019 5:35 pm

Yes, the budget for this is not great, but not insignificant. I have gotten the impression that for lighting and sound, it's in the $200,000 range. The school is developing a curriculum to be a performing arts school within the normal college prep school. The sound board is an old Mackie D8B that was installed when the school was built. Lighting console a Strand Pallet II, that is their second console. They would like to swap out the whole system for LED and DMX.
JohnW63
Regular
Posts: 101
Joined: Mon Mar 28, 2016 12:00 am

Re: Old question, revisited. Gear for a 300 seat high school performance theater ?

Postby Bob Bickerton » Sat Apr 13, 2019 8:11 pm

AlecSp wrote:There's nothing wrong with top end gear if you have the budget.

Only partially true..... the key is that the specification has been designed by someone who knows what they’re doing for the actual space.

I’ve worked in more than a couple of venues where the client has been taken totally to the cleaners...........

Bob
User avatar
Bob Bickerton
Frequent Poster (Level2)
Posts: 3772
Joined: Fri Dec 20, 2002 1:00 am
Location: Nelson, New Zealand
http://www.bickerton.co.nz

Re: Old question, revisited. Gear for a 300 seat high school performance theater ?

Postby Mike Stranks » Sat Apr 13, 2019 8:18 pm

Bob Bickerton wrote:
AlecSp wrote:There's nothing wrong with top end gear if you have the budget.

Only partially true..... the key is that the specification has been designed by someone who knows what they’re doing for the actual space.

I’ve worked in more than a couple of venues where the client has been taken totally to the cleaners...........

Bob

And a large chunk of my consultancy work was being called in by churches who wanted to know if they really needed all the top-spec gear that suppliers were quoting for. Usually I was able to get the quote reduced by at least 50% by insisting on more modest, but still perfectly adequate gear.

The really sad situations were the churches who scrimped and saved on other vital things to buy the recommended gear and only called me in after it had been installed.
Mike Stranks
Jedi Poster
Posts: 6472
Joined: Fri Jan 03, 2003 1:00 am

Re: Old question, revisited. Gear for a 300 seat high school performance theater ?

Postby AlecSp » Sat Apr 13, 2019 10:47 pm

Of course - it goes without saying that any system, especially high end, needs excellent design.

And agreed, that I've seen too many churches and schools that have paid too much for kit poorly designed and poorly installed, which they're not equipped to maintain and operate, sadly.

And back to the OP, so we've now determined that he's in the US, which I'd suspected. USD 200,000 feels like a budget that won't need to scrimp to achieve a quality sound & light solution, well designed and professionally installed.

If only UK schools had budgets like this...
AlecSp
Regular
Posts: 316
Joined: Tue Nov 16, 2004 1:00 am

Re: Old question, revisited. Gear for a 300 seat high school performance theater ?

Postby JohnW63 » Sun Apr 14, 2019 7:44 am

Yep, the school is in the US. The budget is actually a shocker to me. What was more shocking was our first quote blew that out of the water. Close to $550,000 !

I’m trying to help them to find solid gear that will last and fill their needs.

To that end, are there any other mixes that would make sense for a high school beyond the Behringer X32 ? Allen and Heath QU-32 perhaps ? Which Soundcraft ? How about Presonus ?
JohnW63
Regular
Posts: 101
Joined: Mon Mar 28, 2016 12:00 am

Re: Old question, revisited. Gear for a 300 seat high school performance theater ?

Postby Sam Spoons » Sun Apr 14, 2019 10:23 am

There are lots of mixers that will do the job and cost more than an X32 system but none I'm aware of that offer the same facilities at a similar cost. The other reason for going the X32 route is that there are probably half a million of the out there. Those of your students who don't go into the industry but continue to do sound work as a hobby/semi-pro will encounter more X32s than any other desk, especially at the amateur end of the theatre/band world. The skills are transferrable to other desks (and the guys who do do into the profession will learn to use any desk they are presented with) but knowing the ins and outs of using an X32 will prove useful to the semi-pros.

If you have the extra cash burning a hole then the Midas M32 might be worth a look? It has better faders and mic preamps than the Berry and is laid out more ergonomically but runs a Midas branded version of the X32 firmware so the operating paradigm is identical.

The Qu is a very nice desk but offers fewer facilities for more money than the X32 and peripherals are also more expensive. But if use by relatively non tech savvy operators is the norm it does have a more analogue like feel with fewer menus and fader layers to remember. Better for the casual user but possibly not what you are needing?
User avatar
Sam Spoons
Jedi Poster
Posts: 9553
Joined: Thu Jan 23, 2003 1:00 am
Location: Manchester UK
Finally taking this recording lark seriously (and recording my Gypsy Jazz CD)........

Re: Old question, revisited. Gear for a 300 seat high school performance theater ?

Postby Bob Bickerton » Sun Apr 14, 2019 11:48 am

Sam makes good points regarding the X32.

Personally I use Soundcraft having had my first digital desk experience on a Vi6 (which back then cost the price of a small house). I have the Si1 and Si3 Expression desks and whilst I happen to be used to them, I'd adapt to pretty much anything. Presonus didn't used to have motorised faders, but they do now.

Bob
User avatar
Bob Bickerton
Frequent Poster (Level2)
Posts: 3772
Joined: Fri Dec 20, 2002 1:00 am
Location: Nelson, New Zealand
http://www.bickerton.co.nz

Re: Old question, revisited. Gear for a 300 seat high school performance theater ?

Postby AlecSp » Sun Apr 14, 2019 3:26 pm

JohnW63 wrote:To that end, are there any other mixes that would make sense for a high school beyond the Behringer X32 ? Allen and Heath QU-32 perhaps ? Which Soundcraft ? How about Presonus ?
Like I and the others have said before, there's no point in teaching a brand/model - you need to be teaching skills and capabilities that will allow them to use the kit that they meet - which will likely all have changed again in 5 years.

X32/M32, Soundcraft Si Impact/Expression/Performer, A&H SQ are all the most obvious candidates at the bottom end in my view.

Going up a level, consider A&H D-Live, Yamaha CL/QL, Midas Pro 2

Up at Digico, Avid, Soundcraft Vi, Midas Pro 6/X you're probably blowing the budget anyway.

Presonus have fewer UK fans than they do in the US, and seem to have the most penetration in churches. While they have fans, they certainly have plenty of detractors and aren't widespread in industry. Also, their operation is less in line with every other mixer, and so less suited for learning, in my view.

Also, you might want to consider getting one or two cheap tablet mixers, like XR18/MR18, or UI24. They're small change, but will have utility for smaller events where you don't want to lug your big mixer. It's also an opportunity to get students used to mixing on a surface-less mixer. While not so common in industry, it's a great utility market to be in.

Similarly, budget in for a small portable speaker system, if you don't already have one. Getting people to set up an entire, albeit small, system is a useful skill, and you're bound to have needs for it.
AlecSp
Regular
Posts: 316
Joined: Tue Nov 16, 2004 1:00 am

Re: Old question, revisited. Gear for a 300 seat high school performance theater ?

Postby Sam Spoons » Sun Apr 14, 2019 3:43 pm

And, of course, don't forget all these 'big' desks have a tablet and PC app too. And then there's recording to consider (a whole different branch of the profession though much of the gear is common to both). Looks like you are in for a lot of fun :clap:
User avatar
Sam Spoons
Jedi Poster
Posts: 9553
Joined: Thu Jan 23, 2003 1:00 am
Location: Manchester UK
Finally taking this recording lark seriously (and recording my Gypsy Jazz CD)........

Re: Old question, revisited. Gear for a 300 seat high school performance theater ?

Postby JohnW63 » Sun Apr 14, 2019 6:07 pm

The last vendor I talked to seemed to echo what a lot of you are saying. He liked the X32 for our use. We'll be getting a "stage box" and running a network line back to to the sound booth so the 16 or so wireless mics the staff think they need will be connected there.

This will be a permanent system in their "Performing Arts Center", so we will be mounting the speakers on the walls. I just have to get the vendors to quote speakers simpler and CHEAPER than the Renkus Heinz digitally steered line arrays.

I'm trying to read up as much as I can on lighting, so I understand what they talk about with the change from analog to digital lights and DMX and how we do it in stages, since I don't think we can swap out the entire Strand system and incandescent lights for ETC digital.
JohnW63
Regular
Posts: 101
Joined: Mon Mar 28, 2016 12:00 am

Re: Old question, revisited. Gear for a 300 seat high school performance theater ?

Postby Sam Spoons » Sun Apr 14, 2019 7:00 pm

JohnW63 wrote:The last vendor I talked to seemed to echo what a lot of you are saying. He liked the X32 for our use. We'll be getting a "stage box" and running a network line back to to the sound booth so the 16 or so wireless mics the staff think they need will be connected there.

Sounds like musical theatre will be the mainstay then.

This will be a permanent system in their "Performing Arts Center", so we will be mounting the speakers on the walls.

There are much cheaper/simpler line array rigs which would be better suited to musical theatre but they really don't want to be hung on the walls. I would endorse Bob's suggestion to contact Fohhn to design you a system. In a 300 seater, and for musical theatre, you don't want huge, rock concert, volume. A Fohhn Linea based rig (or similar) sounds just what you need

I'm trying to read up as much as I can on lighting, so I understand what they talk about with the change from analog to digital lights and DMX and how we do it in stages, since I don't think we can swap out the entire Strand system and incandescent lights for ETC digital.

I can't make any useful suggestions with lights, lampies are a breed apart (they even wear their underpants backwards... or was that XLR leads ;) )
User avatar
Sam Spoons
Jedi Poster
Posts: 9553
Joined: Thu Jan 23, 2003 1:00 am
Location: Manchester UK
Finally taking this recording lark seriously (and recording my Gypsy Jazz CD)........

Re: Old question, revisited. Gear for a 300 seat high school performance theater ?

Postby Bob Bickerton » Sun Apr 14, 2019 10:24 pm

If one of your main uses will be music theatre, there are other design issues which can come into play with speaker design and placement. It’s not uncommon and actually often preferable to put actor’s voices through a centre speaker cluster, so that there’s a greater sense of actor’s voices coming off stage.

I would say again that for the budget amounts you are talking about you would be well advised to engage a professional acoustician to design the system rather than rely on a vendor.

Where in the States are you?

Bob
User avatar
Bob Bickerton
Frequent Poster (Level2)
Posts: 3772
Joined: Fri Dec 20, 2002 1:00 am
Location: Nelson, New Zealand
http://www.bickerton.co.nz

Re: Old question, revisited. Gear for a 300 seat high school performance theater ?

Postby JohnW63 » Sun Apr 14, 2019 11:17 pm

One problem, with this whole rebuild is that the school did not secure funding but had lots of desires. Since I was the one they called when electronic things broke, I got involved and talked to the district office admin folks and got promised funding of $100K and then another admin said we could do more in the lighting side. I suspect there is energy savings project money. At this date, I need to get quotes and an order placed no later than the end of NEXT WEEK, to insure we take delivery this fiscal year. Most vendors were telling us products would take 3 weeks to get and our budget cycle ends at the end of May. It was hard to even get vendors to come walk the school site and give us quotes. We're not in the middle of a big city. It's been frustrating. I am glad the vendor that came last week , out of the blue, had more reasonable ideas. He said he would have a lighting quote to us tomorrow and I hope audio quote or plan at the same time.
JohnW63
Regular
Posts: 101
Joined: Mon Mar 28, 2016 12:00 am

Re: Old question, revisited. Gear for a 300 seat high school performance theater ?

Postby Sam Spoons » Sun Apr 14, 2019 11:37 pm

I don't know the ins and outs of school finances but you risk being rushed into buying something unsuitable by the deadline which, give a decent budget, would be a real shame.....
User avatar
Sam Spoons
Jedi Poster
Posts: 9553
Joined: Thu Jan 23, 2003 1:00 am
Location: Manchester UK
Finally taking this recording lark seriously (and recording my Gypsy Jazz CD)........

Re: Old question, revisited. Gear for a 300 seat high school performance theater ?

Postby JohnW63 » Mon Apr 15, 2019 4:44 am

Sam,

I agree. One thing I have talked to the staff and funding admin people about is getting the basic products, this year and funding more complicated or as you guys have suggested, items that should be determined by a audio designer, in the next school year. I don't want to lose the promised money by missing deadlines, but I sure don't want to be the guy that blows money on gear we don't need. That sort of reputation I don't want.

I'm thinking a NOT Yamaha audio mixer with stage box, all the mics the staff want, and the lighting console with sufficient specs to run the whole house on DMX with lots of "universe" addressing would be safe. I have to assume that won't eat up all our budget and then get the cat walk light fixtures that have been problematic. Maybe even new power amps for speakers, but that might need us to know the number and watts of the speakers first. If I suggest stuff that will work with what ever configuration we end up with, I should be safe.

I really appreciate the advice you all have given me. It gives me the confidence to go back to the vendors and request different specs. It was the whole " If your goal is to teach with industry standards, you need a XXX mixer and yyyyy lighting system. " that had me deferring to their expertise.
JohnW63
Regular
Posts: 101
Joined: Mon Mar 28, 2016 12:00 am

Re: Old question, revisited. Gear for a 300 seat high school performance theater ?

Postby Bob Bickerton » Mon Apr 15, 2019 6:40 am

I agree with Sam you have to be very careful here and you’re setting yourself up to be the scapegoat when it turns out the gear is not fit for purpose. Example - many speaker systems have bespoke power amps (or indeed are self-powered) - so it’s not just a case of going out and buying something that might work as you suggest.

Sounds like you’re facing an accounting problem. With the amounts involved can you look to set up a Trust, separate entity, or a ring-fenced account category into which this year’s funding allocation could be held pending resolution of the design.

Bob
User avatar
Bob Bickerton
Frequent Poster (Level2)
Posts: 3772
Joined: Fri Dec 20, 2002 1:00 am
Location: Nelson, New Zealand
http://www.bickerton.co.nz

Re: Old question, revisited. Gear for a 300 seat high school performance theater ?

Postby Mike Stranks » Mon Apr 15, 2019 10:06 am

JohnW63 wrote:... It was the whole "If your goal is... you need... " that had me deferring to their expertise.

Not wishing to compound the agony John, but that's another key issue. Frequently these vendors will give advice that's not only wrong, but spectacularly so.

On at least two occasions I've been contacted by churches who had been told that their requested simple upgrade wasn't possible because of changes in the law. I was asked if that was correct... it wasn't! In one case I stopped a vendor selling kit to a church that cost about $1500. I sourced something myself for $150.

The guff that I've heard and read from smaller-scale (and some not so small) specialist sound-system vendors would fill a book... :frown:
Mike Stranks
Jedi Poster
Posts: 6472
Joined: Fri Jan 03, 2003 1:00 am

Next

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users