The Tennessee Performing Arts Center Completely Revamps Its Sound With Soundcraft Vi Series Digital Live Sound Mixing Consoles
--TPAC, Nashville’s leading theatrical venue, purchases two Soundcraft Vi6™ consoles for its Jackson and Polk Theaters, and a Soundcraft Vi4™ console for the Johnson Theater.
The Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC) has been Nashville’s link to the world of Broadway and off-Broadway theater for nearly 30 years. Part of the James K. Polk Cultural Center in downtown Nashville, TPAC’s four theaters have been home to as many as 500 productions annually and have recently hosted performances of hit shows including ‘Legally Blonde: The Musical,’ ‘Love Overboard’ and ‘The Rabbit Hole.’ When the decision was made to upgrade three of the theaters’ sound systems, all were outfitted with new Soundcraft Vi Series digital consoles. The Andrew Jackson Hall, which seats 2,472, now has a 64-input Soundcraft Vi6 for FOH mixing; the James K. Polk Theater, which seats 1,075, now also has a 64-input Vi6 FOH console; and the Andrew Johnson Theater, a black box-type venue that seats 256, is now equipped with a 48-input Soundcraft Vi4 at FOH. These three theaters, which also play host to the Nashville Ballet, the Nashville Opera, and the Tennessee Repertory Theatre, are now all-Soundcraft venues, and they are proving to be a hit with their users.
“The core of this upgrade was our move from analog to digital consoles,” explains Larry Bryan, TPAC’s Chief Audio Engineer, who operates the audio systems at the Center along with Mac Whitley, Senior Audio Engineer, and Jeff Ent, Assistant Audio Engineer. Bryan adds that the previous analog consoles, “couldn’t take us where we wanted to go for the future. There was too much signal loss, something that a digital console would resolve, and we wanted to improve the overall sound of the performances and have as user-friendly an interface as possible.” The Soundcraft Vi Series consoles met all those criteria and then some. “The layout of the consoles is incredibly intuitive – as soon as you get behind the board it makes immediate sense,” he says. “It was designed for the way we think.” The flexibility of the Soundcraft Vi series consoles was also a major factor - both Vi6 consoles can accommodate a second 32-input stage box, increasing input capacity to 96 inputs. “When we did a production of ‘Sweeney Todd’ earlier this year, with 10 RF body pack microphones and a 12-piece band, that’s when we realized we did the right thing choosing the Soundcraft consoles,” Bryan says.
However, those kinds of capital expenditures for a private, non-profit corporation dedicated to providing and supporting the presentation of the performing arts are crucial decisions. Again, Soundcraft proved its advantage. “Studer, whose consoles are used in top theatrical venues around the world, is Soundcraft’s sister company,” Bryan explains. “It really appealed to us that the Soundcraft consoles share a lot of the Studer research and approach to live mixing consoles, but that we could access the Soundcraft boards at a more cost-effective price. That’s very important because an organization like TPAC has to fund major upgrades like this using grant proposals. The efficiency and cost-effectiveness of the Soundcraft consoles, along with their great sound and user-friendliness, made them the only real choice for us.”
The Soundcraft Vi6 console is already ahead of the pack, being third-generation thanks to its’ joint development with sister console company Studer. The console was the first in a wide range of digital consoles which have come from Soundcraft in three years. The Vi4 model, offers all the functionality and facilities of the Soundcraft Vi6, but in a smaller, more compact footprint suited for space-conscious applications such as theaters, houses of worship and venues or clubs with space-limited mix positions.
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