Located in downtown Minneapolis, the Orpheum Theatre is one of the primary cultural hubs of the city, hosting touring Broadway shows as well as musical and comedy attractions. As part of its mission to restore the city’s theaters to modern standards, the non-profit Historic Theatre Group worked with Audio Logic Systems, an AV integrator based in nearby Eden Prairie, to upgrade the venue’s audio with a range of Electro-Voice loudspeakers and electronics.
The Orpheum upgrade project had been in planning stages for nearly two years, with a design that would provide even coverage and vocal clarity in every seat of the 2,600-seat venue. Once funding was approved, Steve Olson, Operations Director for the Historic Theatre Group, moved quickly. "Once we got the final go-ahead last November, we contacted all our vendors to finalize bids, take delivery, and get the installation done,” he notes. "The theater was booked solid, so we worked in phases, organizing everything so we could do the physical installation without impacting any shows.”
Primary coverage for the main floor of the traditional proscenium-style venue is delivered by twin stacks of five Electro-Voice XLD281 line-array loudspeakers atop a pair of dual 18-inch Electro-Voice QRx 218S subwoofers, seated on Electro-Voice XGS-4 ground-stack rails. Six Electro-Voice Xi-1082 speakers spaced along the stage lip complete the picture as front fills for the orchestra pit seating area. With its full-range fidelity and low profile, the Xi-1082 was also the model of choice for the under-balcony seating area.
Audio for the balcony areas utilizes the same Electro-Voice XLD281 line-array models that flank the stage, with a single, central 10-box hang covering the vast majority of seats. That array is flanked on either side by a pair of horn-loaded Electro-Voice EVH-1152S/64 loudspeakers, which deliver sound to the areas near the side walls, including the lower loge area. These are hung beneath two Electro-Voice EVF-2151D subwoofers, ensuring low frequencies are just as robust in the upper levels as for the seats on the main floor.
All loudspeakers are powered by 14 Electro-Voice TG-5 amplifiers with RCM-28 network and DSP modules. The modules allow Orpheum staff to effectively monitor and control the entire sound system and its three separate amp rooms from a laptop at front of house via IP on an Electro-Voice IRIS-Net digital network.
The installation was completed in phases, with the amp racks and under-balcony speakers being installed first, while the main PA systems were gathered and staged at the nearby Pantages Theatre, then installed, tuned, and commissioned over a two-day stretch in late January. Steve Olson, who assembled the three amp racks himself, feels the results speak for themselves.
"While this is mostly a touring Broadway house, the first show with the new system was a Bryan Regan concert for a sold-out house,” he reports. "It was a great test, and we couldn’t have been happier with the results – the sound quality is great.”
The system’s performance was so good that Steve Olson feels the Orpheum will be able to handle larger, louder shows than the original design called for. "I’m thrilled with this system. Everything really exceeded what we thought we could achieve with the budget we had,” he says. "The system’s clarity and intelligibility are excellent. It’s what we’ve come to expect from Electro-Voice.”