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Roof Garden Ballroom Revived with Electro-Voice

The revived Roof Garden Ballroom reopened its doors with a blast from the past—Tommy James—that could truly blast, thanks to a new Electro-Voice system.

Iowa (December 11, 2019)—The story of Historic Arnolds Park’s Roof Garden Ballroom is a familiar one. Built in the 1920s, the site was a popular destination for decades, located on the shores of West Okoboji Lake in the heart of the Iowa Great Lakes resort region. While it attracted the likes of Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, The Guess Who and the Glenn Miller Orchestra in its prime, the venue shuttered in 1988. All was not lost, however—this past summer, the Roof Garden Ballroom was brought back to life, with an opening concert performed through the venue’s Electro-Voice X-Line live sound system.

Operating now as a non-profit attraction to benefit the community, the new Roof Garden Ballroom reopened with Tommy James and the Shondells packing the 1,200-capacity multipurpose venue, which still sports an authentic vintage look, but also features modern Electro-Voice X-Line Advance X2 line-array loudspeakers powered by Dynacord IPX series DSP amplifiers.

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Designed and installed by NLFX Professional (Bemidji, MN), the all-Electro-Voice loudspeaker system consists of twin eight-box X2-212 line arrays, with five 90-degree enclosures flown above three 120-degree versions. Low frequencies are supplied via six X12/128 dual-18” subwoofers.  A set of four Fri-28LPM line the stage lip as front fills.

Meanwhile, a trio of Dynacord IPX20:4 DSP amplifiers drive the rig, with each capable of supplying up to 20 kW of power. The amplifiers also provide a built-in OMNEO/Dante interface for networking the system, plus FIR-Drive and additional system DSP for centralized control of the system.

According to John Lynch, FOH engineer for Tommy James, “This was a really nice rig – really smooth, with tons of headroom. We run an old-school rock ’n’ roll stage, with classic guitar amps and no in-ears. The EV system had the punch to get over that easily, yet with excellent clarity. And the subs are amazing. We were moving a lot of air; shook all the dust out of that room.”

The band’s monitor engineer, John Melasippo, had access to the venue’s new stage system, also courtesy of Electro-Voice. Available speakers include 10 Xw15A 15” floor wedges, with three Dynacord IPX10:8 DSP amps providing power along with network connectivity. One ETX-18SP powered subwoofer is also available as a drum monitor.

“Tommy James played the original Roof Garden six times going back to 1966, so they were the perfect act to open the new building,” notes Jeff Vierkant, CEO of Historic Arnolds Park. “It was a packed house. They put on a fantastic show, and the sound quality was incredible.”

Electro-Voice •