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Convergent Technologies Designs New Audio System at Chesapeake College

The Yamaha QL5 in Todd Performing Arts Center at Chesapeake College in Wye Mills, Maryland.

The Todd Performing Arts Center (TPAC) at Chesapeake College in Wye Mills, Maryland recently upgraded its 903-seat theatre audio system thanks to the efforts of Convergent Technologies Design Group, Inc. of Baltimore, an audiovisual, telecommunications, acoustics, and security design firm.

Chesapeake issued an RFP for design services, and Convergent won the project based on their qualifications. The company began working on campus for the new Center for Allied Health and Athletics, previous experience designing systems similar to TPAC, and resumes of individual Convergent designers, all secured the project. Local contractor, Lee Hartman and Sons, handled the install and rigging of the new system.

The Todd Performing Arts Center (TPAC) runs the gamut in productions held there, including three concerts per season by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, in association with the Mid-Shore Symphony Society. The college also hosts their own productions including Sleigh Ride Around the World, an annual holiday special, along with multiple professional children's theatre touring productions, occasional college theatre department performances, and six to seven local dance school spring showcases and recitals. Dance Masters of America hold their annual regional competition at TPAC and periodically host various one-act play festivals, bus and truck shows, country music concerts, military service bands, and many conferences and business seminars/meetings.

"The existing audio system was installed in the 1990's, and sounded poor with limited dynamic range and inadequate seating coverage," states company principal and project manager, Bill Holaday. "There was very low, available SPL for program audio, limited speech intelligibility, and the system was prone to feedback. Feeds to stage were noisy and an old analog mixer lacking features, but creating a high noise floor added to the need for change. The pre-function space was also unintelligible. And, without any networking connections, such as Dante, Chesapeake College knew the system was in need of an immediate upgrade."

The decision was made to install a Dante-enabled Yamaha QL5 digital audio console (purchased through Lee Hartman and Sons in Baltimore) and Bose speaker system to address the theatre issues. The QL5 is equipped with MY8-DA96 and MY8-AD96 cards. A Community speaker system was added to the pre-function room. The system also includes products from Middle Atlantic, Shure, Clear-Com, and others and was designed and installed under the direction of Paul Corraine, principal in charge.

The Yamaha QL console replaced an older analog console. "We wanted a console that could satisfy visiting touring engineers from a learning curve perspective, familiarity, and flexibility, so the QL was the way to go," states Corraine. "Dante was required for the system because we wanted the same flexibility at the stage as well as at the mix position." The I/O comes out of the Yamaha QL at front-of-house and into the pre-function area for pre-event music, etc.

Corraine said the Bose system was chosen for the theater because of the challenge they faced in finding a system that would provide an even coverage solution for the theater that consists of 25' ceilings, and that would provide good intelligibility while maintaining the building's architecture. "I had heard great reviews on the new pattern-able boxes for the front-of-house area," he said. "The shape of the room really lent itself to the boxes, which were modeled down to one db between every seat in the house with a very high, intelligible SPL. The Community speakers with Lab Gruppen amps work well to provide a big sound and even pattern in the pre-function room," Corraine adds.

"I found working with Convergent easy and exciting, states Richard Peterson, CFE executive director. "We were on the 'same page' almost immediately with the needs of the Todd Performing Arts Center's audio system. They listened to my explanations of how the hall is used and what audio issues we have had since the facility opened in 1997. Convergent suggested some alterations for the system and when they came back to us with the proposal of installing the BOSE Room-Array system with the Yamaha QL5, I was sure we had the right team for this project. It is a perfect match! I have worked on quite a few renovations and new construction projects in various venues during my career; I must say this one has been easy, successful as well as smooth from concept through installation."

"Dick Peterson, executive director at TPAC, and I shared the same vision as to what would work best for the theater and pre-function space which was carefully thought out, and we were both quite pleased with the outcome," Corraine notes.


(10 December 2015)

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