The Buzz: Installation Spotlight: Avalon Ballroom Theatre, Niagara Falls, Ontario
Nov 1, 2008 12:00 PM, By Jessaca Gutierrez
When home is Niagara Falls, Ontario, there is a lot to live up to. At the Niagara Fallsview Casino Resort, which overlooks the majestic and enduring falls, keeping the entertainment flowing for tourists and honeymooners is a keystone to its success. The resort was opened in June 2004 after six years of development with a $1 billion price tag. The 2.5-million-square-foot complex includes a 200,000-square-foot casino with 150 gaming tables and 3,000 slot machines; a 30-story luxury hotel with 368 rooms and suites; a 15,000-square-foot health and fitness spa; and an expansive shopping Galleria. But it was the 1,500-seat Avalon Ballroom Theatre at the resort that needed a recent touchup. Although the theater was already grand, the resort wanted it to be no less than one of the finest live-entertainment venues in the world.
Less than four years had lapsed since the original Avalon installation, but the theater had already outgrown its technical capabilities to host events and performances the resort was now ready for — acts such as Reba McEntire, Tony Bennett, Kenny Rogers, and The Beach Boys. In 2006, the resort placed Larry Gregson at the head of its marketing department to move the resort toward the type of live-entertainment venue it wanted to be. Gregson recruited John Keddy as director of entertainment and events productions and Wally Bodnar as lead audio and technical engineer. Because Toronto-based PA+ Productions had worked with team before on other projects and had experience in the casino entertainment industry, it was a natural choice to bring the company in to transform the theater. PA+ Productions and the resort first began discussing the design build in November 2006.
The old audio sytem consisted of a small L'Acoustics Kudo line-array setup, Innovason digital consoles, and an assortment of “middle-of-the-road” outboard gear and microphones. The first priority in the installation was replacing the old loudspeaker system.
“With so many players in the market, we not only had to identify the right speaker system for the job, but had to be cognizant of rider-friendliness, as well,” says Mark Radu, systems engineer with PA+ Productions. “The JBL VerTec line-array system had a couple of clear advantages in this particular installation. Firstly, it is the most rider-friendly line-array cabinet on the planet. Secondly, it is one of the very few line-array systems that can maintain its sonic quality regardless of program material or sound-pressure levels — an essential characteristic for a venue that would play host to such a varied array of musical styles.”
When it came to amplification, it made sense to use the Crown I-Tech series, because that technology is part of the same Harman family as the VerTec series. The series' onboard DSP also offers flexible control over every element within an array. Choosing the mixing console, however, was a little trickier because almost every sound engineer has his or her own preferences, Radu says.
“The Midas Heritage 4000 satisfies almost every engineer, and a 64-frame model was placed at both the FOH and monitor positions,” he says.
At the front of house is a Klark Teknik DN9331 Helix Rapide remote EQ system; 12 effects engines from Eventide, Lexicon, Yamaha, and TC Electronics; and 56 available channel inserts from Avalon, Summit Audio, Drawmer, dbx Professional Products, and BSS Audio. The monitor system employs 24 channels of Klark Tekink Helix remote EQ to process the VerTec VT4888 sidefills and monitor wedges.
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