Aug 02, 2000

Music Venues

Kennedy Centre Installs Five Spirit 324 Live Mixers

--The John F. Kennedy Centre for the Performing Arts, America’s living memorial to President Kennedy as well as the nation’s busiest arts facility, has recently added five Spirit 324 Live digital mixers to its pro audio equipment arsenal. Washington Professional Systems of Wheaton, Maryland provided the sale.

Two of the 324 Lives are being used as the main system controllers for the Centre’s Millennium Stages found in the Grand Foyer. At 630 feet long and 60 feet tall, the Grand Foyer ranks as one of the world’s largest rooms - large enough to comfortably lay the Washington Monument down inside. Identical stages at each end of the room take turns hosting a free performance every evening of the year at 6:00 p.m. EST as part of the Kennedy Centre’s ‘Performing Arts for Everyone’ outreach program initiated in 1997. Each of these hour-long performances are additionally webcast live from the facility’s web site (, making this the world’s only daily broadcast of the performing arts over the Internet.

The two Millennium Stage 324 Lives are each equipped with two Spirit Mic/Line Interface boxes, enabling them to facilitate 32-channel operation. The digital mixers are used to control portable JBL amplifier/loudspeaker systems for a nightly average of 400 patrons, as well as provide the audio feed for the webcasts.

John Burke, head of sound for the Kennedy Centre’s production department comments: “We selected the 324 Lives for their combination of wonderful sound quality, broad feature set and attractive price. With the addition of Spirit’s external analog mic pre bays, we can handle up to 32 channels of live mics. So, basically, for an affordable price, we are able to have a fully-automated 32-channel console”.

Adjacent to the Grand Foyer is the Opera House, Kennedy Centre’s second largest theatre. Featuring a seating capacity of 2,350, the Opera House is home to the Washington Opera - the seventh largest Opera company in the world - as well as another 324 Live. This digital mixer, also utilising two additional Mic/Line Interfaces, is used to mix audio for most of the theatre’s operas and ballets, while one of the Kennedy Centre’s 56-channel Soundcraft Series FIVE desks is brought in to handle large-scale music events when necessary.

“Like most of the sound booths at the Kennedy Centre, the Opera House’s mix position is fairly old and small, so being able to fit 32 inputs, six aux sends and four matrixes into such a small footprint is incredibly efficient,” says Burke. “Also, at any given time, the Washington Opera - which is under the direction of Placido Domingo - may have three different operas in rep, doing a different one each night. Naturally, each performance will have different audio needs; one opera may have a lot of off-stage choirs and bands, while the next may have sound cues. With the 324s, Craig Jensen - the Opera House’s sound engineer - can very easily save settings for each of the performances and then simply call up each show’s settings as needed with the push of a button. That’s a dramatic improvement over our previous method of doing things”.

The Terrace Theatre, located on the top floor of the Kennedy Centre, is home to a fourth Spirit 324 Live. Generally used for smaller productions or as a showcase environment for lesser-known performers, the 500-seat Terrace Theatre is using its Spirit digital mixer in tandem with a 24-channel Soundcraft Series FIVE.

The fifth and final Spirit 324 Live is housed in a portable flight case and used to mix various events as needed, such as receptions, lectures and other special events in the Centre’s ballrooms or restaurants, or out on the arboretum overlooking the Potomac river.

Aside from the Spirit mixers, the Kennedy Centre uses quite an extensive collection of other Harman International products, including, most notably, a pair of 56-channel Soundcraft Series FIVE consoles, two 24-channel Series FIVE's and a Soundcraft Europa desk. Additional Harman gear includes dbx processors, AKG microphones, Crown amplifiers and IQ, and JBL processors, amplifiers and loudspeakers.

Located on 17 acres overlooking the Potomac River in Washington, D.C., the Kennedy Centre is now in its 29th year of supporting the performing arts. Presenting more than 3,000 performances each year for audiences approaching two million, the Centre is also visited by more than three million people annually. An additional 20 million each year attend touring Kennedy Centre productions or tune in to its television or radio broadcasts.

Spirit is a leading brand of mixing consoles designed and manufactured in the UK by Soundcraft, a division of Harman International Industries Inc.

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