Oct 21, 2003

Music Venues


--Don thy crown, hoist a pint of ale and prepare ye for some jousting! No, it’s not some weird dream; it’s Medieval Times, the popular dinner theatre that nightly (or is that knightly?) transports its guests for two hours back to the pageantry, action and valor of the 11th century.

This August marked the debut of Medieval Times’ eighth and newest North American castle located at Arundel Mills Mall in the Baltimore/Washington D.C. corridor. Housing 19 Andalusian stallions and up to 1,000 guests per performance, the 60,000-square-foot facility also boasts a powerful sound system that’s anything but ‘ancient history’.

Portman’s Music Superstore of Savannah, Georgia has been the chain’s sound contractor of choice since 1986 when the pro audio dealer, working on a specification from consultant James Brawley, installed equipment at the very first location in Kissimmee, Florida. Now, seventeen years later, the contractor and consultant have again teamed up to provide a ‘Harman-friendly’ audio setup primarily comprised of a 24-channel Soundcraft K2 mixing console, seven BSS FDS-336 Minidrives and 40 Crown K2 amplifiers driving an all-JBL loudspeaker rig.

This installation arrives on the heels of last year’s massive retrofit project in which Portman’s put nearly identical sound systems into every Medieval Times location in the US. Portman’s Professional Audio Division Manager Frank Andrews comments, “We’ve really tried to standardize on equipment so that sound engineers can go from castle to castle and not have to deal with a learning curve. This approach also reduces the overall number of products that their corporate office has to worry about should maintenance and service issues ever arise.”

Andrews, who has installed numerous Minidrives in his time, was particularly pleased with them for this install. “Jim Brawley and I both like using the 336 a lot because it does many things very well,” he says. “To illustrate, the Hanover venue has a total of 32 rear surround speakers with eight mounted on each of the four walls. Using the BSS units, they can create some interesting theatrical effects, like making the sound seem like it’s spinning around the room behind the audience. Or they can send sounds solely to either side or end of the main front ring of speakers for dramatic effect. The Minidrives really work well for a show like this and, of course, the quality of the processed audio is always very nice.”

As for the choice of a mixing console, Andrews was similarly content. “With its good number of busses, subs and auxes, as well as comprehensive control over tone, the Soundcraft K2 was the most reasonable choice for this install. It provides everything they will need to accommodate future productions and will fit in well with the venue’s eventual growth process.”

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