Electro‑Voice Upgrade Gives SCPA State‑of‑the‑Art Performance
Opened in 1975, Arizona's Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts (SCPA) has long been a cultural oasis in the greater Phoenix area, presenting some 200 dance, music, drama, and lecture events per year. The largest performance hall at the complex is the 850-seat Virginia C. Piper Theater, a fully-equipped professional theater space. After well over three decades in service, the theater recently underwent extensive renovation, including re-raking the auditorium and adding box seating along the sides. The improvements also included expansion and enhancement of the theater's sound reinforcement installation. Because the existing system was from Electro-Voice, Phoenix-area AV specialists AVDB Group were able to upgrade it to state-of-the-art performance without the cost of an entirely new system.
"The existing system was based on fourteen EV XLC127 line array elements, seven on each side," says AVDB sales engineer Jamie Gillespie. "We went through and upgraded them all to XLC127DVX high-output compact line-array elements. That involved removing the internal crossover, because now we are running it three-way, and replacing the low and mid drivers. Depending on which high drivers you have, you may wish to replace those as well, but we didn't have to do that."
“It's a really nice‑sounding room, and the XLCs give them a lot of PA for that size of hall.”
Gillespie describes the procedure, performed using Electro-Voice's ready-made transducer upgrade kits, as "very straightforward and easy to do. You get basically a brand new cabinet at a huge savings. If you can take a big chunk of the cost away by keeping the box and the rigging hardware, then you may be able to do a sound upgrade that you wouldn't otherwise be able to fit into your budget."
In addition to upgrading rather than replacing its XLC127s, the theater was also able to continue using its eight Electro-Voice XLC118 subwoofers from the previous system. The subs are stacked four per side in soffits partway up the proscenium arch.
The existing components were complemented by a new center cluster made up of two Xi1153A/64 high-amplitude full-range loudspeakers and one Xi1191A(F) subwoofer. "The center cluster gives us better localization," Gillespie says, "putting the focus in the center of the room for things like the voices in theater productions and the vocals in a band."
Also added were a number of new amplifiers to power the expanded system, including three new Electro-Voice P1200RL Precision Series remote-controlled DSP amplifiers. The number of P3000RL Precision Series remote-controlled DSP amplifiers was increased from 10 to 16. "In the new system we are mostly using the DSP in the amps for status monitoring," Gillespie says, "because we installed a pair of NetMax N8000-1500 digital matrix controllers to take advantage of EV's FIR filtering for the XLCs."
NetMax also enables paging in dressing rooms and other back-of-house areas, as well as audio routing out to the lobby and other ancillary spaces. It's controlled via a graphical interface that Gillespie created, which runs on a computer in the control room or from a laptop at the front-of-house position.
"The client really likes the flexibility I was able to program for them into the NetMax," Gillespie says. "Now they can do things like click a single button to enter an input mode where they can hook up a simple audio source like an MP3 player to have music playing on setup days. The NetMax makes it easy to handle some of these little niceties that used to be a major deal that would require them getting their main sound guy involved." Gillespie also engineered a separate system EQ function for visiting engineers, so they can make adjustments without permanently affecting the system's tuning.
"The Center is really happy with the new system," Gillespie says. "The FIR filters make a huge difference. It's a really nice-sounding room, and the XLCs give them a lot of PA for that size of hall. That's a huge selling point for the venue, because you can have someone come in and do a one-off show without all the cost and hassle of hanging a PA. And with those upgraded XLC127DVXs, it's definitely a rider-friendly system."