The Palace Theatre is one of Saint Paul, Minnesota’s downtown gems. First opened in 1916 as a classic vaudeville and movie venue, it was rescued by the city exactly a century later, after three decades in the dark, and renovated as a live music destination. Within a few months of the new Palace’s first show in March of 2017, the 2,500-capacity venue once again received the royal treatment—this time in the form of a new L-Acoustics K2 PA system installed by local integrator and rental vendor Allied Productions and Sales.
Randy Hawkins, head audio engineer at the Palace Theatre and FOH touring engineer for the band Atmosphere, which headlined the new Palace’s first show, says that a steady stream of visiting artists between the reopening of the venue and the installation of the new system in August confirmed K2 as the best choice. “The Pixies came through with the exact same system we have here now, and everyone was amazed at how good it sounded,” Hawkins recalls. “There were a couple of other systems in here on a temporary basis, but none of them could come close to what we have now.”
Today, the venue’s main system comprises 13 K2 loudspeakers per side in a two-hang stereo system, each array topped with three K1-SB subs, while eight KS28 subs are ground-stacked below, four per side. The Palace Theatre is architecturally complex, with a tall 800-seat balcony over an open area that can hold another 1,700 people, but with a bar and other areas, such as the back of the main floor, that can be acoustically hard to reach. So Allied included a center-fill cluster of three Kiva II speakers in the design, with four X8 coaxial speakers for the front-fill array.
Another four X8 act as delay speakers for the bar area while two more take the sound evenly to the very back of the floor. The main system is powered by 14 AVB-ready LA12X amplified controllers, with four AVB-equipped LA4X amplified controllers on hand for the fill and delay speakers. Onstage, a monitor array composed of six ARCS II speakers, 14 X15 HiQ wedges and six SB18 subwoofers, all powered by nine LA8 amplified controllers, keeps performers immersed.
Allied President Chad Pechacek says that he turned to K2 for a number of reasons besides its ability to cover a challenging venue like the Palace. For instance, the venerable venue was built long before touring or installed PA systems existed, with few useful rigging points in the ceiling above the proscenium stage. “The adjustable horizontal directionality, focus and throw that K2 provides in a lightweight enclosure gave us a lot of options for installation flexibility despite very limited placement options,” he says.
But the bottom line for the venue’s owners and operators was ultimately the system’s sound and acceptance, and K2’s ubiquity on touring riders was a major attraction. “K2 is at the top of almost every request list—it’s the ultimate rider-friendly PA system,” Hawkins sums. “The goal for choosing this sound system was to make the greatest number of touring bands happy, and K2 was the right way to do that.”