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Carpenter Performing Arts Center on Top of the World with KIVA

LONG BEACH, California — Located on the campus of California State University, Long Beach (CSULB), the Richard and Karen Carpenter Performing Arts Center has been delighting audiences for more than 15 years with its diverse schedule of events. With the recent addition of a full FOH and monitor system package from L-ACOUSTICS, the venue’s leadership reports that both patrons and performers alike are now happier than ever.

Hosting everything from musical, theatrical and dance performances to film screenings, lectures and conferences, the 1,074-seat theater boasts a considerable list of world-class amenities, including a generously large stage modeled after Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch Theater in New York. However, the one shortcoming of the space was its sound system comprised of a hodgepodge of loudspeakers and amplifiers installed over a decade ago.

“While the Carpenter Center has repeatedly been praised for its acoustics by patrons and the press, the sound system needed to be revamped in order to maintain our high standard of artistic excellence,” states Carpenter Center Executive Director Michele Roberge.

To rectify the situation, Carpenter Center’s technical team began investigating a short list of manufacturers that it deemed would be appropriate for the room, ultimately calling upon Irvine-based Micworks, Inc. to design and install an L-ACOUSTICS KIVA System.

As a result, the Carpenter Center now features an LCR arrangement with three identical clusters comprised of an eight-element KIVA array flown adjacent to a two-element KILO cluster, all hidden behind a proscenium scrim. Two SB28 subwoofers per side are ground-stacked down below the left and right arrays, and the entire system is driven and processed by four L-ACOUSTICS LA8 amplified controllers. Notably, the system is capable of vertical zone control, allowing coverage of the orchestra pit seating area as one of the Center’s optional configurations.

In addition to the FOH system, the Center purchased a full L-ACOUSTICS monitor package consisting of eight 12XT and four 115XT HiQ coaxial wedges, two LA-RAK amplifier racks each loaded with three LA8, and a full complement of rigging hardware giving the theater the flexibility to use the XT enclosures as mains, front-fill or effects speakers for various productions. The venue also purchased a highly portable powered system made up of two tiny 108P enclosures and two SB15P subs for use out in the lobby and terrace areas.

Carpenter Center Stage Supervisor Ken Beaupre vividly recalls the first event to benefit from the new system. “We hosted a tango quintet from Argentina called La Camorra that used our Steinway grand piano, a double-bass, violin, accordion and classical guitar,” he says. “After listening to them for a bit through the KIVA rig during soundcheck, we killed the house sound and it was amazing how precisely identical everything sounded to what we had just been hearing. There was more presence through the system, of course, but the organic instrumentation came through without any coloration. It was so accurate and transparent with very minimal equalization. One of the engineers here who has been mixing for years put it best when he said that this is one of those ‘damn, I’m good rigs.’ You simply come in, turn it on, and say ‘damn, I’m good!’

“Seriously, though, I am tremendously impressed with the even coverage and definition of the KIVA system. The speakers feel a lot closer to me at mix position than they really are — more like a set of nearfield monitors in the studio. The system’s honesty has allowed us to get much more creative and expressive when it comes to mics, instruments, panning and so on.”

Micworks President Mike Troke emphatically agrees that KIVA was the right choice for the project. “In my opinion, KIVA was the only system that would fit under the Carpenter Center’s proscenium cover yet deliver the sound quality and performance that they required,” he says. “Even before the system had been tuned I think I heard the word ‘wow’ about 3,000 times because everyone kept just saying it over and over while listening to playback material. I think this theater is one of the nicest sounding rooms in Southern California now, and all of the independent engineers that have come in and used the system have been very pleased with its honesty and flexibility. In fact, the greatly-improved quality of the new system is allowing the Carpenter Center to attract acts that wouldn’t have played the room previously without needing to carry their own racks and stacks into the space. So they’re obviously very excited about that.”

Roberge adds in closing, “We’re used to getting compliments from patrons on the performances we present. Now, with our new system, we’re getting compliments on theatre’s sound, and lots of them! Since the KIVA rig went in, it’s been a win-win for artists and audiences alike. Plus, our sound staff and audio crew have let me know it has not only made their job easier, but that it’s really fun to mix again!”

Named after Richard and Karen Carpenter, alumni of CSULB, the Carpenter Center presents a complete season of events, and serves as home to Musical Theatre West, and Long Beach Community Concert Association in addition to numerous outside rental events. The facility is also the permanent home for a display of memorabilia from the pop music career of the duo, Carpenters. For more information on Carpenter Center, visit

Micworks, Inc.’s home on the Internet is located at

L-ACOUSTICS is a leading innovator and manufacturer of high-performance loudspeakers, amplifiers and signal processing devices for touring and installed sound markets. Known around the globe for pioneering and championing the modern line array loudspeaker concept with V-DOSC, the company has received numerous accolades for its K1, KUDO, KIVA, ARCS, XT coaxial loudspeaker systems and SB line of subwoofer enclosures, all powered and processed with the LA4 and LA8 amplified controllers in fulfillment of a “total system approach.” L-ACOUSTICS products for the US market are distributed by L-ACOUSTICS US of Oxnard, California.

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