Electro‑Voice at Luhrs Center – high‑definition sound for top regional venue

March 25, 2013

With a clean modern design and well-appointed 1500-seat interior, the Grove Theatre at the H. Ric Luhrs Performing Arts Center at Shippensburg University in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania has become a favorite regional venue for Central Pennsylvania and Northern Maryland. The on-campus Center serves both Shippensburg University, a regional public institution of about 8,500 students, and the surrounding communities, providing a year-round home to events that run the gamut of genres, including pop, jazz, country, bluegrass, Motown, gospel, symphonic, big band, musicals, theatre, dance, comedians, speakers, acrobats and children’s shows. But before the theater was recently upgraded with an XLD281 compact line array system from Electro-Voice, its installed sound system fell short for most of these events.

“The sound of the existing system was designed for a lecture or a small-scale musical performance. And the existing system was not rider-friendly. So we were forced to rent PA equipment for about 80 percent of our offerings,” says assistant technical director Daniel Stine, whose responsibilities at the Luhrs Center include audio systems.

“I’ve heard many different touring line arrays here at the Luhrs Center, and the EV XLC and X‑Line arrays have always sounded the best.”

When the opportunity for the Luhrs Center to invest in improved sound presented itself, Stine and the Center’s technical director, Robert Shirk, turned to the Professional Systems department at Washington Music Center in Wheaton, Maryland for help in looking at several manufacturers, and decided that EV offered the best value. “I have been working with Bob and Danny over at the Luhrs Center for the past seven years,” says systems consultant Nate Aiello. “Bob approached me for a design that would suit their needs. I wanted something with great intelligibility and clear definition that would be great for all types of performances, and the gradual slope made this an ideal situation for the line arrays. I had recently done a large venue installation using EV XLD281 arrays, and that client was so happy with the way it sounded and how clear it was that it made sense to go with the XLDs again.”

Aiello adds that while budget is always a concern, an important factor for the Luhrs Center was choosing “a box and company that is well-respected and tried and tested, because we needed something rider-friendly.” Aiello worked up an array design based on the XLD281s, a compact, three-way element with 120° horizontal coverage. He then contacted Bob Jordan at Electro-Voice representative Right Track Marketing in Boonton, NJ, who worked with Aiello to refine placement and splay to ensure even coverage throughout the listening area. The design was then proposed to Shirk and Stine, who approved the use of the XLD281s. Washington Music Center was the successful bidder on the competitively bid project.

“I like the EV sound,” Stine says. “I’ve heard many different touring line arrays here at the Luhrs Center, and the EV XLC and X-Line arrays have always sounded the best. Plus, the XLDs are a great value. Nate presented our requirements to several manufacturers and the EV system was competitive.”

The core of the final system is 30 of the XLD281 elements hung in a standard left/right configuration of 15 each. Low-end support is provided as needed by rolling up to eight existing subwoofer stacks onto the front left and right of the stage. Electro-Voice Tour Grade power amplifiers are used throughout, with a dozen TG5s for the arrays and four TG7s for the subs. The system is controlled by a NetMax N8000-1500 digital matrix controller.

“NetMax gives us great control over zoning the array, as well as the ability to monitor the system through the RCM-26 modules,” Aiello says. “And it makes the networking setup very easy. The FIR filters for the XLD281 are already built right into the controller. Once those are set, the only adjustment needed is simple EQ-ing from FOH as the artist or performance dictates.”

“Danny and Bob installed the boxes themselves,” Aiello continues. “They were really pleased with how little time it took once we had the angle settings. Aside from running lots of speaker cable, the set up was actually pretty simple. We had the techs from EV come out after the install to do the final tunings, and we all had a great time during the whole process.” Brandon Yenser of Right Track Marketing was also involved, providing networking and programming expertise on the system integration side.

The XLD281 system has already been used for many shows, including Kenny Rogers, Jackson Browne, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and Huey Lewis & The News. Aiello says the positive feedback has led to another Electro-Voice installation in a different on-campus performance space, and that he has been contacted by representatives from many other institutions that have visited the Luhrs Center and have asked for a similar PA design. “I’ve also gotten numerous emails from engineers who have mixed on the system, and have nothing but rave reviews.”

“The results have all been good,” Stine agrees. “I am very pleased with the sound; it’s clear and present. Listening to recordings I can identify instruments that I never knew were there, and when mixing live concerts the system is responsive to small adjustments. When I ask touring engineers about EQing, most of them are using only a few very small dips and bumps of less than 3 db. Several of them have left their touring rig in the van to use our system instead. I have not had to rent a PA since we installed the XLDs.”

Group photo, L-R: Dan Stine, Nate Aiello, Bob Shirk Venue exterior photos by Jeffrey Totaro

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