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Reinventing the Agora’s Audio

Cleveland’s legendary venue has reopened for business following a $3 million renovation that included its audio system.

Cleveland, OH (April 12, 2019)—Cleveland’s legendary Agora Theatre and Ballroom has been a centerpiece of the region’s music scene for over half a century and rightfully so.

Opening in 1966, the Agora moved the following year to a venue on East 24 St., where it hosted shows by emerging artists like Kiss, ZZ Top, Boston and Bruce Springsteen, until the site was heavily damaged by a 1984 fire.

Adamson Set to Expand S-Series

Two years later, the Agora reopened at 5000 Euclid Avenue—a 2,100-capacity venue first built in 1913—after it underwent a massive renovation. Even updates can get old however, and when concert giant AEG Presents acquired the operating rights to the Agora in 2017, it turned around and poured $3 million into the venue, looking at everything from restoring its interior architecture to installing a brand-new PA, in order to bring it up to date.

Designed by Michigan’s Allen Audio Systems and sold and installed by Cleveland’s own Eighth Day Sound Systems, the Agora’s new audio solution is built around Adamson System Engineering’s sub-compact S-Series and was one of the first to incorporate the S10n narrow-dispersion array enclosure.

Allen Audio CEO Mark Allen designed the system. “One of our engineers, Jake Wargo, had been championing Adamson for some time and connected us with Eighth Day Sound based on that,” shares Allen. “We thought the S-Series would fit the bill perfectly, being a sub-compact box voiced the same as the large-format E-Series. After a visit with director of Installations Tom George at Eighth Day and then a trip to the Adamson factory in Canada for a demo of the new S10n narrow-dispersion cabinet, we knew we had the right system for this venue.”

The system in the Agora Theatre is comprised of main left-right arrays of eight S10n compact two-way, full-range cabinets over two standard S10s per side, supported by left, center and right stacks of two E219 subwoofers in front of the stage and four iS7p point-source cabinets for front fills.

Part of Allen’s remit was to make sure the new PA actually fit the venue; noting that many mid-size array enclosures have too wide a dispersion for historic theatres like the Agora, he pointed out that the previous system suffered from inconsistent coverage and SPL levels, particularly in the rear corners and under-balcony areas, so the team used Adamson’s Blueprint AV 3D predictive simulation software. “Using Blueprint, it was easy to work out the number of boxes and their configuration to effectively handle this,” said Bill Gleespen, Allen Audio’s chief of Operations, who handled the Blueprint modeling work.

“The system definitely sounds far bigger than it looks,” said John T. Blasko, lead audio engineer at The Agora. “The pairing of the Adamson line arrays, subs and fills with Dolby Lake processing definitely helps us overcome some of the challenges of coverage in the older-style theatre. In the 20 years that I have been attending shows at the Cleveland Agora, this is far and away the best the room has sounded.”

Adamson Systems Engineering •