Once in a while, while mixing national tours, you come across a venue that does things right, from acoustics to gear to involving the community.

You’re looking at a not-so-sexy photo of the ceiling in a venue I worked last week. The Harvester Performance Center in Rocky Mount, Va., opened in April 2014 and has been voted Best Music Venue in Southwest Virginia by Virginia Living magazine for three years in a row. Hosting more than 175 shows annually—featuring national and international artists across a variety of genres—the venue has a capacity of 475 seated or 700 standing. The Town of Rocky Mount spent $2.7 million to renovate the building, which at one time was the International Harvester Tractor dealership.

It’s obvious that a lot of thought went into the design of the Harvester. Sightlines are clear throughout the room, load-in is easy, and the dressing rooms and green rooms are spacious and quiet. An elevator takes you one flight up to the stage from the main green room.

“I've been in the music business going on 50-plus years now,” states General Manager Gary Jackson, “and I wanted to create a venue that was beyond special. I humbly believe this is occurring. The town did this as an economic development, and thousands of music fans visit yearly. I love the family that has been birthed and love seeing musicians and their fans connect.”

Junior Brown performing at The Harvester

What impressed me about the venue is the attention that was paid to sound in the performance space. The P.A. is modest yet very effective: a rack of QSC amps power JBL VRX932LAP cabs flown three per side, with two flown JBL ASB6128 dual-18 subs. Yamaha IF2112/AS and IF2108 serve as delay speakers, while a Yamaha IF2112 provides center fill. Maybe there isn’t enough P.A. to run a show for, say, Slayer, but for most of the nationals coming through town, the P.A. will serve admirably.

The structural ceiling is beautiful natural wood—which would normally produce a ton of reflection from the P.A., but the room is properly treated for acoustics. “When we got the building, explains Jackson, “I didn't know the wood ceiling was there because of the drop-down ceiling. Originally, the low end was going to be on the ground, but after tearing the false ceiling down we decided to locate the subs up in the beams and wood, which makes the low end smooth and sweet. The treatment was done with much care, so the room is very tight, with very little reflection.”

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Large, absorptive panels are hung between the wood ceiling and the audience area, serving to tighten up the room’s reverb time and smooth out the HF response. The ceiling panels combined with wall treatments (visible in the background of photo 2) create a room where you can actually mix, and not fight the room’s inherent acoustics. If you have the chance to check out the room as a patron or performer you won’t be disappointed.

More info here.