RTR conducts complete sound overhaul of Melbourne Athenaeum

RTR conducts complete sound overhaul of Melbourne Athenaeum

Published: ASIA


AUSTRALIA: Melbourne Athenaeum, the first theatre to ever show a movie in Australia, has undergone a complete sound overhaul including sound reinforecement from Coda Audio. The theatre's co-owner, Glenn Elston, wanted an audio solution that would be able to handle the highly varied range of acts that grace the Athenaeum’s stage, so RTR Productions stepped in to supply it with a comprehensive system comprising mixing from DiGiCo, amplification from Camco, and sound reinforcement from Coda, intended to deal with the venue's unique architectural challenges.

Normally, an installation caters for the largest production needs and scales down on a show-by-show basis. But with the Athenaeum being a heritage, wedding-cake style theatre, the venue did not lend itself to large systems, either flown or ground stacked. Additionally, Mr Elston wanted a system able to cater to all these different performances, while being easily reconfigured by his in-house tech staff.

The resulting concept was to have a high powered distributed system; one that would not impact visually on the theatre’s heritage, but still allow different zoning and system configuration to cater to the many types of clients that hire the theatre.

‘RTR really had their hands full with a theatre like the Athenaeum,’ said Group Technologies' Drew Menard. ‘It’s from an era where cabling and rigging weren't meant to be easy.’

New cable runs meant having installation technicians crawling through unbelievably tight spaces. Many other installers would be happy with running some surface-mount conduit on each level, but that was unacceptable for RTR.

‘Having high performance speakers this small meant that we could put them in some fantastically tight locations,’ Mr Menard continued. ‘Matt Hanson from MPH is one of the most respected riggers in the country, and had no problems dealing with the Athenaeum's intricacies. All of the original structural members are enormous timber beams. Even in a building as old as this, Matt was millimetre perfect.’

The main front of house PA includes four Coda LA4 cabinets and an LA4 Sub flown per side. Four LA4 subs were also installed along the front of the stage. Front fill includes four D5 Cubes which were installed against the front lip of the stage, with the proscenium fill handled by a single Coda G712 per side. Delay for the stalls comprises of four D5 Cubes spaced evenly from left to right half way down the theatre. To complement the new PA, a DiGiCo SD9 colsoles with 2 x D-Racks was installed

The dress circle has a completely different layout and needed a different approach. While both the ground floor and the top-level feature long aisles and plenty of vertical height, the second level dress circle has a very narrow vertical opening between the two balconies. There is also a strong rake, making it a challenge to get high frequencies to the back of the area. Instead of installing another line array, two CoRAY column speakers per side were installed.

In this configuration, the two columns flown top-to-top feature a vertical dispersion of 22-degrees, while the adjustable horizontal dispersion of the CoRAY allows sound to be focused towards patrons seated in the dress circle without causing any sight line issues, and helps alleviate reflections from the side walls. An additional four D5 cubes were used for delays to cover up to the walkway behind the raked seating.

The upper balcony includes a similar setup to the stage level system with four LA4 modules and an LA4 Sub flown per side, and an additional four D5 cubes for delay.

There are 16 loudspeaker zones in total throughout the venue, with each zone fed by a dedicated DNC260N controller. Amplification across the system is handled by Camco Vortex 6 amplifiers for the arrays and columns, a Camco DPower4 amplifier for the G712's in the proscenium, and a Coda C5 amp for the D5 cubes. With the room configured with a number of practical preset options, Mr Menard has been very impressed with the quality of sound and the simplicity of operation.

‘It's great to just be able to walk in, turn it on, and have world class sound without having to do anything except flick a switch,’ he said. ‘The installation was done really well. It really fits with the venue aesthetically. The column speakers on the balcony follow the lines of the building perfectly and don’t intrude on the interior of the theatre at all.’

Since the installation, the Athenaeum has received rave reviews and extremely positive feedback from theatre companies, bands and engineers alike.


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