27 Jun 2022

Griffith Regional Theatre: Getting Rider-Friendly with L-Acoustics

by Jason Allen

(Lead Pic; The Eagles Experience at Griffith Regional Theatre)

Griffith in south-central New South Wales sits happily in a regional concert and theatre touring circuit that includes Goulburn, Wagga Wagga, Albury, Orange, and Bathurst. A wide range of companies regularly do the rounds, including Sydney Dance Company, Bangarra Dance Theatre, Bell Shakespeare, as do contemporary concert tours.

Griffith’s Regional Theatre has a capacity for 520 and punches well above its weight in drawing stops for all of these tours. But, with their small and aging house PA not up to the task of amplifying most concert acts, Technical Operations Coordinator John Matkovic was getting sick of sound techs saying “Yeah…nah” when given the house spec, and then pulling their own rig in.


“The old rig was 15 years old and was just three point-source boxes as left-centre-right, plus a sub,” explains John. “We didn’t just want to go next level, we wanted to go ‘next-next-next’ level.”

John and the team went out to the industry’s major suppliers and evaluated all of the top-tier PA options. While there was a wealth of worthy options on the market, one of the challenges was the limitations of the venue itself.

“We had our choice of a lot of nice systems, but the hard part was getting it rigged,” says John. “There are effectively no rigging points above the stage, and no steel to rig from. The PA needed to be dead hung from custom-made pipe and brackets. That reduced our options. Ultimately, we wanted full range, warmth, and clarity, and as much PA as we could get for our budget.”


The solution came in the form of L-Acoustics A Series, and a true left-centre-right system of three hangs of three A15i line source elements augmented by three KS2i1 subwoofers per hang, running in a cardioid configuration, all powered and processed by L-Acoustics LA4X power amplified controllers.

Being a council-run facility, the contract for design, supply, and installation for the new PA went out to tender. Canberra’s Sound Advice, who not only installed the previous PA but also helmed a major refit in 2004, got the gig.

“Norman Korte and Stephen Nano from Sound Advice are masterful super tech nerds,” jokes John. “The upgrade works they did in 2004 were perfect – sound, lights, projection; everything. All of it is still in place and nothing has ever gone wrong. Their work is second to none. They are finnicky, pedantic perfectionists. They do everything properly and never cut corners.”

The first iteration of the L-Acoustics design had six subwoofers rigged in the centre of the proscenium, but the team came up with a better plan. “That wasn’t really practical in terms of space,” John outlines. “We employed a local engineer and fabricator to make pipe brackets and a centre cluster bracket that’s adjustable. It was the only way to get it all in.”

Scott Harrison, Application Engineer for L-Acoustics distributor Jands, made the trek from Sydney and spent two days on site offering installation guidance, commissioning of the system including time alignment and tuning to L-Acoustics’ standards.  Scott loved the system,” observes John. “Particularly the amount of dB it puts out.”

Next, Sound Advice’s Stephen Nano spent a week working in the theatre, tweaking the new PA to their specific requirements. “The room is a bit difficult, to be honest,” admits John. “It’s all bricks and steel. We have done some acoustic treatment, but it does need a little more.”

That hasn’t proven to be an issue, however. “The A Series PA just sounds magnificent,” reports John. “The headroom is massive and it’s definitely more than we’ll ever need. This PA will idle for most of its working life. It has all of the quality, crispness, and clarity L-Acoustics is known for, and I love the fact it all runs off of one beautiful little rack. It’s just a nice system.”

John now proudly presides over a rider-friendly venue that touring acts are happy to work in. “We’ve had Jon Stevens and Noiseworks, Diesel, Amy Shark, and Human Nature all happy to go with the house system,” confirms John. “No-one’s pulling their PA out of the truck anymore. The theatre productions love it too, particularly the amount of bottom end. Over the years we’ve upgraded our infrastructure and cabling, so now acts can bring their desks in, plug in via Cat5, plonk their I/O boxes on stage and everyone’s happy.”


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