- by Robert Morgan
The Pike Performing Arts Center looked to score better sound with a new system from Bose
Pike Performing Arts Center (PPAC), located 12 miles northwest of downtown Indianapolis, Ind., recently installed a Bose RoomMatch sound reinforcement system in its main auditorium. System integrators ESCO Communications of Indianapolis supplied and installed the RoomMatch array module loudspeakers for the auditorium upgrade. The installation represents the first significant enhancement to the audio equipment at the facility since it was built in 1996.
Back to the Past
“The original system was a very traditional design by an architect-engineer. It was a center cluster system with long-throw horns and bass boxes behind a soffit,” explains Gary Dunn, EVP, ESCO Communications. “It was just a very classic early-1990s design for a school auditorium.”
“Pike Performing Arts Center is what I term a K-12 PAC, a performing arts center associated with a K-through-12 public school system. We’re owned and operated by the school district,” says Jared Duymovic, the director of the facility.
But while PPAC shares a campus with the Pike High School and the Pike Freshmen Center in a residential neighborhood of Pike Township, it has its own operating staff and does not adhere to the traditional educational calendar. The venue hosts school and community events while also serving as a professional rental house for touring and local performing arts organizations.
While the old rig was adequate for the majority of events, PPAC would still have to rent a full PA package occasionally. “It was the thing that my technical director, Kyle Bredehoeft, and I kept coming back to; wouldn’t it be nice if it didn’t sound this bad?” says Duymovic.
In anticipation of an upgrade, Duymovic and Bredehoeft began talks with ESCO about two years ago. When several colleagues at ESCO who had heard the Bose RoomMatch system brought it to Dunn’s attention, he says, “One of the first projects that came to mind was the Pike Performing Arts Center.”
The New Bose in Town
Dunn admits, “We were very skeptical at first because it was Bose. But we went and heard it and became more impressed the more we started digging into it and listening.”
Bose’s RoomMatch system (which is driven by the company’s PowerMatch amplifiers) is available in 20 different coverage patterns; they can be used alone or with other RoomMatch array modules to form Progressive Directivity. They perform as a single loudspeaker to ensure optimal sound coverage for a particular listening area. RoomMatch also combines proprietary technologies, particularly related to the extended-range, mid-band compression drivers, that eliminate the need for corrective DSP.
The venue wanted to go with a left-right setup, but there was a challenge with that configuration — the ceiling of the auditorium features an array of fixed acoustical clouds, limiting the positioning of the new system’s hang points. “Where we could get the structure we had to go extremely left and right of the walls,” says Dunn, noting that the system’s subwoofers are now flown centrally." But while that was more of a challenge, because we have more splash off of the side walls, in the end, with the tuning and the positioning, it worked out very, very well.”
But How Does it Sound?
The coverage is extremely even, Dunn observes, from the very front to the very back of the hall. “The control of the sound with these new boxes is so good. The ability to layer in the different horizontal and vertical patterns within the same array really helped; you can’t do that with traditional line arrays.”
“I was extremely pleased with how enveloping and immersive the sound became with the new system,” reports Duymovic. “It was almost instantaneously recognizable as being at a different level entirely from what we were used to. The experience that I had when I first listened was very much akin to putting on a set of noise-cancelling headphones. Everything was very full and clear with even dispersion throughout the hall, and the bass response was excellent without being overwhelming.”
First impressions are always important, with any system. “When I stepped into the room to hear music being played it was so clean, quiet…audible,” Duymovic adds. “I walked around and found no dead spots, no muddling. It was incredible. We’ve only had a handful of events so far, but the benefit is clear already. It’s just an enjoyable listening experience, which will help bring audiences back time and time again.”