EMPAC’s 1,200-seat classical theater
Photo: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute/Ray Felix, © 2009. All rights reserved.
The newly opened Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., was intended to be a space where the arts, technology and science would challenge and transform each other. For product solutions and pricing, EMPAC’s designers and builders consulted Guitar Center Professional (GC Pro), the outside sales division of Guitar Center that focuses on the needs of professional users.
The $200 million-plus EMPAC will provide unsurpassed facilities for creative exploration, as well as for research in fields ranging from visualization to immersive environments to large-scale interactive simulations. Officially opened last October, EMPAC operates nationally and internationally, attracting creators from around the world and sending new artworks and innovative ideas onto the global stage. It features a 1,200-seat classical theater, a 400-seat theater, two black-box studios and additional studios for up to four artists in residence, as well as an audio recording studio and a broadcast video studio.
This ambitious space required a diverse and advanced array of technological products and systems, says Todd Vos, EMPAC’s lead audio engineer. “[GC Pro senior account manager, Eastern U.S.] PK Pandey and I have known each other for quite a while,” says Vos. “I knew PK and GC Pro would be able to provide the basics we were looking for as well as the more esoteric pieces.”
Those needs ranged from more than 100 wired and wireless microphone systems from manufacturers including Audio-Technica, DPA, Schoeps, Neumann and Shure, to large-format consoles such as the Soundcraft Vi4 Digital Console with DSP core and Yamaha DM2000V2 Digital Production Console, and a full MADI infrastructure throughout the facility. GC Pro also delivered on the video side, providing platforms including the JVC SR-DVM700 three-in-one video recorder, Pyro AV 3G fiber-optical HD-SDI transmitters and receivers and an AJA 3G HD-SDI multiplexer.
“One of the great things about dealing with GC Pro was that they offered products ranges at both the project studio level as well as elements found in major broadcast systems. Given scheduling, this was a great benefit as it was important for us to consolidate as much equipment as possible under single bids,” explains Vos, who worked closely with EMPAC audio engineer Jeff Svatek and his counterpart in video, Eric Ameres, in making technology choices. “GC Pro was the only retailer that walked this line.”
“For anything over $5,000, we had to put competitive bids out, GC Pro’s numbers beat everything else out there,” notes Vos. “That enabled us to add systems that were thought to have been out of reach financially and stay within budget.”