Located about 20 minutes north of Spokane in eastern Washington, Deer Park High School offers a curriculum of college prep and career studies for its 675 students. The school has a 350-seat live theater that supports Deer Park’s broadcasting technology educational programs.
The theater is equipped with a certified full-fly rigging system, digitally controlled theatrical lighting, a video recording and presentation system, and an audio system that includes an Allen & Heath Qu-32 digital mixer.
“This is a teaching facility,” says Dan Huffman, who heads the school’s production department, “and our students run all of the systems at a live event including video, lighting and sound. Live production is an important part of our educational program.”
Deer Park’s new Allen & Heath Qu-32 replaces an older analog mixer that has been moved to the production room. “The Qu-32 is smaller and less intimidating than the analog board,” says Huffman, “but it has plenty of capability and I can even use the line inputs to connect more than 32 sources and access them on different digital layers.”
The Qu-32 normally resides in a mix booth at the back of the theater. However, it can be moved into the theater seating area when required for complex productions. Alternately, operators can take an iPad into the theater and move from place to place while controlling the mixer by way of a Wi-Fi link.
Huffman configured the Qu-32’s first layer as a default for simple events. “Almost anyone can operate the mixer in this setup,” he explains. “Just turn it on and hand a wireless mic to the presenter.”
For the school’s more sophisticated dramatic and musical performances, students have set up scenes and layers and they’re learning to optimize the DSP and reverb for an individual performer’s voice. “That helps us learn by doing, and we’re using more features each time we turn it on,” Huffman adds.
Huffman says he plans to implement the Qu-32’s multitrack recording capabilities soon and says his students are looking forward to the school’s first big theatrical production, which will take place in mid-January.
“The program director is excited about using the Qu-32’s scenes to coordinate the audio with his production,” he said, “the Qu-32 is like a lighting control board in that way. And, we’ll be using even more of the mixer’s capabilities by then. So far, we’ve probably only tapped about 25-percent of what this mixer can do.”