8 May 2024


Beloved Wollongong Institution Gets the Live Nation Treatment

Built as a cinema in 1925 and called ‘King’s Theatre’ at the time, Wollongong’s Anita’s Theatre has seen a lot change in the last hundred years. It closed in the mid-60s and reopened in the late 60s as a roller rink, which existed until the mid-90s. Illawarra businessman John Comelli bought the building in 2003, carrying out extensive renovations and re-opening four years later, named after his late wife.

In October 2022, Live Nation Australia Venues took over the lease and operations. “Keeping venues such as Anita’s Theatre open is imperative to the ongoing growth of local Australian artists,” stated Roger Field, president of Live Nation Asia Pacific. Since then, Anita’s has hosted increasingly high-profile touring concerts, stand-up comedy, and more.


Wollongong’s Pro Sound and Lighting have been taking care of Anita’s production needs for just over three years. “When Live Nation took ownership, we wanted to lift the spec up to be more rider friendly and of a higher standard,” says Troy Michlmayr, Technical Manager at Pro Sound and Lighting. “Live Nation said in turn that they wanted to continue the relationship with us as a supplier. We understood that Live Nation wanted a better PA product in the venue to meet international artist’s requirements.”

Like most locals, Troy has a lot of love and nostalgia when it comes to Anita’s. “I used to mix bands there back in the late 80s and early 90s when it was a roller rink,” recalls Troy. “It was renovated from a two storey to a single storey venue, with reconstructed art deco paintwork. It’s a really nice-looking theatre, with a capacity of 1200 in general admission, and 850 seated.”

Pro Sound and Lighting decided to replace the existing PA with an all-new rig from d&b audiotechnik. “We wanted a tier one product that’s on most riders,” explains Troy. “We’re doing everything from comedy right through to touring rock and roll, so we needed a system that could cater for that range, with high levels of speech intelligibility.”


In a century-old building whose architects couldn’t have envisaged modern PA and lighting rigs, weight and efficiency are a factor. “A small footprint and the overall performance were considerations. We’ve gone for a much smaller footprint than the previous rig, which has increased sightlines. We also have cardioid subs so we don’t affect the residents nearby, which has also given us the added bonus of better on-stage sound.”

The PA comprises four V Series line array elements per side; two V8s and two V12s, augmented by one V-GSUB per side. There are d&b audiotechnik E12s as balcony delays, E8s for front fill. On stage, there are 10 d&b audiotechnik M4 monitor wedges, fed from eight sends. Each FoH V element is amplified and processed by one channel of a d&b audiotechnik D40 amplifier. A d&b audiotechnik D80 amplifier drives the subs. Another D40 drives the delays and front fills.

Pre-install design work was done in EASE and d&b’s ArrayCalc software. “We could look at how the coverage was going to be before we even went in, set angles, and tuned the room,” explains Troy. “As our old system was three times the weight of the d&b, on the day it was so much easier to fly the new system. Doug Pringle from d&b audiotechnik distributor NAS came for tuning, but it more like tweaking due to the ArrayCalc modelling. After that, we found we had incredible amounts of SPL before any sort of limiting.”

Not to be left out, Pro Sound and Lighting also upgraded the lighting rig. “We did a number of upgrades to the system, including an entire rig of Chauvet Professional fixtures,” added Troy. “Control is now through a grandMA3 processing unit XL.”

A lot of engineers have been in front of the PA since the upgrade. “I mix smaller shows at Anita’s from time to time,” Troy expands. “We’ve also got some very experienced industry people that have been around the traps that do in-house techs. And we’re training up some young techs as well. They all say the intelligibility has increased. The overall SPL before distortion is incredible. I’ve found that the harder the system drives, the better it sounds. It’s a system that actually likes to be driven a bit hard, especially for the rock shows. The change is just night and day. You can walk the entire room with very even coverage throughout the whole space. It makes us a world class venue with a world class audio spec. It’s attracting bigger and better acts.”

“It’s a no brainer that the upgrade had to happen,” concludes Troy, “and we’re just so glad that we went with d&b. No one’s ever mentioned supplementing a system or bringing extra PA in; everyone’s been more than impressed with the output of the system.”

Pro Sound and Lighting and Anita’s aren’t resting on their laurels; “We keep evolving and we keep adding to the system to keep the standard high,” adds Troy. “We’ve just invested in Allen & Heath D-Live consoles, and we’re running DiGiCo as well. It’s a matter of keeping the quality up to match the speaker system and there’s a roadmap for ongoing investment in the venue.”


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