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Judy Bayley Theater at the University of Nevada Las Vegas Installs All Yamaha EtherSound System

October, 2012

New System Includes Console, Processing, Speakers and More

Home to many of UNLV's performing arts groups, the 550-seat Judy Bayley Theater opened in 1972 and features a raked auditorium, a fully-rigged, proscenium stage, and a thrust-apron that can be used as an orchestra pit.

A new audio system was recently recommended by audio expert Mary McFadden, and designed and installed by PRG, and includes a Yamaha M7CL-48ES digital audio console, IS series speakers, DME24 (Digital Mixing Engine), and XP amplifiers. McFadden is quite familiar with the venue and has taught in the theater as faculty adjunct for sound design. Last year, she had students put a delay line in the theater, a very successful project. "Brackley Frayer, the department chairman, called me in January to ask me to consult on a new system, as funding had been obtained to update both the sound and lighting system," states McFadden.

"There is no sound design degree at the school, but there is a concentration in sound design available within the general theater BA," says McFadden. "Since there is no full-time faculty that teaches sound, my feeling was, the new system needed to be easy to operate and have a digital signal path to familiarize students with digital audio networking and concepts. The Yamaha M7CL-48ES package fit these requirements."

McFadden said the theater's TD, Scott Hansen, was familiar with the M7CL and he agreed with her assessment. "We wanted to have at least 48 channels, and the M7CL has all the faders on the surface. The room is quite nice, but it had old EV speakers and Crown amps from the late 80’s that were past their prime and did not work very well so they were replaced with the Yamaha systems. The room had a totally undeserved reputation for being a bad-sounding room, and we wanted it to sound good."

"PRG worked as a subcontractor to American Southwest Electric to bid on the project, and we won the bid with ASE," states PRG Audio Designer, Eric Hebard. The bid's Scope of Work included more than pro audio and lighting; ASE handled the general and electrical construction portions, and PRG handled all the audio system engineering and installation.

PRG took McFadden's system design that incorporated the major components of the system, and then designed the remaining infrastructure components to finish the system. "This design included the rigging of the speakers based on locations that Mary had specified: the small shrouds for the portable Yamaha SB168's stage boxes, the rack with power and thermal dissipation to properly house the equipment, how to reasonably network the SB168's, power and network locations to stay within budgets, and in keeping with modular capabilities," says Hebard. "Value engineering during the first round of design to keep within budgets was a large portion of what PRG assisted with. We also provided 'as built' drawings as per our standard procedure, and this helped the theater greatly as they had no real drawings of the space (now they have it in basic 3D modeling)."

"Eric and I agreed that it was very important to spend some of the grant money to establish an isolated ground for audio, as one had never been created," notes McFadden. "He suggested running CAT5 circuits in the stage house to minimize cable runs, so there are CAT5 patch points upstage center, and downstage left and right. These terminate in a patch panel in the amp rack down stage right. Ordinarily, the Yamaha console lives in the front of house booth, but moves into the back row for musicals. Eric also suggested putting a CAT5 patch box in the back of the theater that runs to the booth, so when the console is moved out of the booth for musicals, it can be patched through without running any extra cable."

Regarding speaker selection, Lloyd Kinkade and Randy Weitzel from Yamaha initially came in and analyzed the theater, giving sound and lighting students an impromptu lecture on the physics of sound. The Yamaha Installation Series IS2115 speakers came at the suggestion of Kinkade, and since McFadden is familiar with the IS speaker, she agreed with the recommendation.

"The DME is a key part of the system, McFadden says; 'it is very cost effective, and has all the DSP required for the system - EQ, crossovers, delays, etc. It also has a delay matrix component, and surround sound capability. I used the delay matrix to teach and design with last year, and I am designing with it currently for "God Lives in Glass', a benefit for both Family Promise and the Nevada Conservatory Theatre, the professional Equity arm of the theater school. The DME is a great teaching tool, and gets students to think about signal processing and design in the digital realm." The school plans to buy an ES card for the DME to make the DME part of the ES network - right now it's analog in and out. By using the GUI for the DME, students can become familiar with system design concepts. The EtherSound system is up and running, and McFadden is using it as part of the audio process for " God Lives In Glass".

"The sound system recommendations provided by Mary McFadden and subsequent system design provided by PRG is an excellent addition to our theater, and most importantly, to our students," states Scott Hansen, Technical Director, UNLV. "As Faculty Technical Director, I am asked to provide the best quality work for our audiences, yet our most important goal is to provide an optimal educational experience for our students. At UNLV, we work with inexperienced first year undergraduates, graduate students in design and technical production, hire professional sound designers (such as McFadden), and for occasional outside use by additional academic or touring productions. With this potential for a wide variety of demands, expertise, and to stay in line with our education goals, I was asking a lot of our consultants and system designers."

Hansen said he began with the Yamaha console selection that has proven to be an excellent choice. "This board provides both the fundamental operations necessary for the beginning students, yet also provides considerable options for the more demanding productions. Once the console was selected, Yamaha really worked to provide an optimal speaker and distribution system far superior to what we had been working with. The company provided excellent information about the way sound reacts in our theater, and that was clearly incorporated by both Mary and PRG. In listening to our new system, the improvements are clear and audible."

"I am very pleased with the new Yamaha sound system," states Brackley Frayer, Chair and Executive Director, Department of Theater and the Nevada Conservatory Theater. "When the designers and engineers played their demo tapes through the new system, I sat back and enjoyed the result. This is the best sound I have heard in the Judy Bayley Theater since I arrived 17 years ago."

For more information on the Judy Bayley Theater, visit http://pac.unlv.edu/venues_judy.php.

For more information on PRG, visit www.prg.com.

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