LEXINGTON, Kentucky — The Lexington Opera House, which first opened in 1887 and was described by The Kentucky Leader as one of the “costliest, handsomest and most convenient Thespian temples in the South,” has certainly seen its share of amazing performances over the years. Al Jolson, John Phillip Sousa, W.C. Fields, Harry Houdini, Will Rogers, Mae West and the Marx Brothers have all graced its stage, not to mention countless theatrical and musical productions
With the advent of motion pictures, the opera house gradually fell into disrepair; however, the facility was eventually purchased by the city and spared the wrecking ball thanks to a full renovation and restoration effort in 1976. Now, more than three decades later, the opulent 944-seat venue has once again been “freshened up” with some much needed updates, the most notable being the addition of a new L-ACOUSTICS KUDO line source array system.
The decision to install KUDO was primarily made by the opera house’s technical coordination team of Andrew Gilchrest, Michael Lavin and Chris Musinski following a comprehensive onsite evaluation of six leading manufacturers’ loudspeakers. After much consideration the decision was made to install six flown KUDO and three ground-stacked KUDO per side. Four coaxial 8XT enclosures are positioned across the stage lip for front-fill, with a single 115XT HiQ positioned up at the center of the proscenium as an alternate front-fill for ballet performances requiring the stage to be speaker-free. Furthermore, a full L-ACOUSTICS monitor package was also specified for the stage, featuring eight 12XT and four 115XT HiQ enclosures. As for power, the KUDO systems are driven by the manufacturer’s LA8 amplified controllers, with everything else powered by LA4.
“When looking to design a new sound system for the opera house, we had a couple of stipulations,” notes Gilchrest. “First, since a quarter of our audience is under one of two balconies, we wanted to avoid using under-balcony delay speakers. L-ACOUSTICS helped design a system, through the use of ground-stacked and flown cabinets, that accomplishes this nicely. Everyone is hearing sound coming directly from the stage.”
“Second, we really lack the physical space for subs, so we wanted an enclosure that would eliminate their need for most of the shows we do here. So far, including concerts with a full band, we have yet to require any additional low-end supplementation. It’s really impressive.”
L-ACOUSTICS’ KUDO ended up being the optimal choice to satisfy both criteria. By adjusting each enclosure’s internal K-Louvers to minimize reflections and best fit the geometry of the room, the flown KUDO arrays are now providing consistent coverage throughout the balcony seating areas while the ground-stacked enclosures do likewise for the main floor. Furthermore, considering that the frequency response of KUDO very effectively goes down to 50 Hz (Â±3 dB), the opera house is able to deliver sufficient low-frequency reinforcement without the need for any dedicated subwoofer enclosures.
“Everyone loves the new system; it’s such a big improvement from what we had,” notes Gilchrest. “We’re loading in a Broadway musical today that is going to use our hanging KUDO for the two balconies. This makes it easier on everyone. The traveling crew doesn’t have to set up as much, our crew doesn’t have to take down our speakers, and it helps the show look a lot better, eliminating the need for the musical’s speaker towers — not to mention, of course, that the KUDO sound much better and deliver much more even coverage.”
Although the University of Kentucky Opera was, appropriately enough, the first group to make use of the new sound system, the KUDO rig has since been utilized on concerts by both Bryan Adams and Jodi Messina to national Broadway tours of The Pajama Game, Sweeney Todd and Ain’t Misbehavin’, all garnering considerable praise from patrons and production companies alike.
The Lexington Opera House is a part of Lexington Center Corporation, which also operates the 23,000-seat Rupp Arena, 130,000-square-foot Lexington Convention Center, the Shops at Lexington Center and Triangle Park. Additional details can be found online at www.lexingtoncenter.com.
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 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 North American market are manufactured and distributed by L-ACOUSTICS US of Oxnard, California.
# # #