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Dynacord Flies in UM Center

When Maine Center for the Arts at the University of Maine (Orono, Maine) announced they were planning a major auditorium renovation in the fall of 2006, Moonlighting Production Services (Portland, Maine) provided a sound solution to a logistical challenge: The new sound equipment needed to be operational before construction began, and it needed to be easily portable during construction for use in another school venue on a per-show basis.

According to Moonlighting’s Nick Pires, “Money was not a huge obstacle, but we were confident that the [Dynacord] Cobra system would sound better in the room than other more-expensive line arrays on the market. After all, that’s why we bought one for ourselves. The technical director of the theater [Jeff Richards] had the final say in what system they would purchase, and we went in with a bid confident Cobra would impress.”

Moonlighting (Nick Pires, Gary Massey and Ted Dunbar) designed a flexible system comprising four flown Cobra-2 Tops per side with four Cobra PWH subs per side for stacking on or in front of the stage, depending upon application. Existing front-fills are still used. “When I brought the system in for the first of three show/demos, Jeff Richards was understandably skeptical,” Pires says. “He questioned me as to whether four passive high packs would provide the coverage, throw, frequency response and headroom that would be needed for doing everything from speech to pop shows in the 1,600-plus seat venue. As it turned out, the system worked very well for the space. In fact, we felt that using only two subs per side would provide ample low end, so we cut the other four subs from the package. Also, the ease of setup far surpassed any of the other systems that were considered. This will be crucial while they are mobile during the renovation, which starts in late 2007.”

“Investing in the Cobra was a win/win situation: It both ground-stacks and flies easily, and all with a really small footprint,” says Richards. “And, most importantly, it sounds great. MCA only puts on high-end events and needs sound to match to meet the high specifications of touring engineers.”

Pires and Dunbar installed the system using EASE Focus software to determine splay angles, and Crossmax/Race iwith SIA Smaart Live to create a custom set of processor parameters tailored to the room. Existing factory settings were referenced as the foundation for the design. “When we got the arrays into place, the horizontal and vertical coverage were nearly perfect for the room,” Pires adds. “There were very few reflections from the side and back walls, and the accuracy of the aiming software helped us keep a lot of energy from hitting the large balcony face and back wall.”

“Since owning the Cobra, we’ve run three big shows on the system, one of which was Ian Anderson performing Jethro Tull classics with a full orchestra,” continues Richards. “Anderson’s engineer was, like me, a little skeptical at first when he saw just four boxes for a full orchestral show, but when he heard the system, he loved it. We also recently hosted a show by [traditional Irish musician] Eileen Ivers, and again every nuance of the strings came through—it was very smooth. I really like the sound of paper mids—they sound far smoother in a hall with hard walls. Some of the line arrays we had in here had a very harsh mid-horn sound—too ‘in your face’ when we put any volume behind them.”

“The system will be used for speech, playback, symphony, jazz, blues, opera and Broadway-style theater on a regular basis, not to mention the occasional pop or rock show sponsored by UMaine’s student concert committee,” Richards adds. “The Cobra system provides the all-important coverage and sound quality, but is portable enough for two or three people to set up quickly while we do shows outside of the theater during the renovation and in any number of box configurations. It’s also very compact considering its performance, so there are no sightline issues. Since the auditorium will be closed for renovation for 18 months from the end of summer 2007, we needed a flexible, roadworthy rig to take on the shows that would have visited the U, a system that would sound good in any 1,600-capacity hall, not just permanently installed in ours. The Cobra fits the bill perfectly.”

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