11 Aug 2022

Centrestate PA Upgrade

by John O’Brien

JBL VTXA8 array with Crown-IT3500HDS amps

40 years is a long time in any business. That’s about how long Centrestate Sound & Lighting have been providing event equipment hire to regional NSW. Over that time, director Allan Brown and his team have seen a lot of technologies, brands, and models come and go.

Located in Orange, NSW, Centrestate recently invested in a new JBL based PA to lead their hire line up. They were looking for a flagship rental PA system to replace system inventory that was ageing and becoming cumbersome. Allan is no stranger to JBL, having cut his teeth with 4560s early on.


In the years since, their inventory has “been a bit of everything. We went with the JBL VTX this time because the jobs we are now doing require a substantial line array. Full-on 5,000 people type stuff. Our previous rig was only half the size and I had to keep on hiring extra boxes in.”

Based around the VTX A8 series, and powered by Crown IT3500HDS amps, the new PA now caters for all the larger shows at Centrestate. They were after a high quality, tour-grade rig and that is what they got.

They’ve also added many accessories to aide in ease of deployment, transportation and rigging. Apart from the array frames, the package from JBL distributor CMI included ground stack plates, transportation dollies and speaker covers.


These make set up and pack down easier, but Allan finds a real advantage with the VTXA8s in being able to “set your angles and everything, before you start to lift. That can be all preset on their pins, so you’re not lifting a box and trying to find a hole to slot it into. And coming back down, you just click the levers out and it packs back down to a transportable ‘array’.”

Centrestate tried using some of their existing amps to drive the JBLs but found that “You’ve got to go with Crown, which has all the software in it. You just program it straight in and away you go.”

Like any smart operator, Allan did look around when researching the new rig. CMI had gear ready to ship at a price that fitted his needs. He expands: “I can’t complain there. They did a really good job.” And, after sales support has impressed him too: “They asked me for my thoughts on it after being used, and will be back showing new models soon.“

Ultimately, the proof is in how it performs. For Allan “the system itself is magic, there’s no doubt about that. The transport of it, the setting up of it, all the crew like it. It’s easy to get around, easy to adjust and it performs so well.”

A great example of this comes from a recent gig (Stars Under the Stars in Parkes at Overture) where they used the VTX A8 rig for an open-air opera performance. One thing stood out to Allan: “The percussionist had all the little jingly bells, we were 60 metres back at front of house, and we were picking up all the little bells where I normally wouldn’t with previous rigs. Getting detail that far back – it performed really well.”

Impressing a seasoned veteran to that degree is testament to the quality of the current JBL range.

Gear List



2x JBL-VTXA8AF – array frame

2x JBL-VTXA8BP – ground stack base plate

4x JBL-VTXA8VT – VTX A8 vertical transporter

4x JBL-VTXA8VTCVR – vertical transporter covers


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