7 Mar 2022

Installation: St Mark’s Anglican Community School

by Jason Allen

(Pic: Power Audio Visual’s John Crofts and theatre manager Noah Diamond)

St Mark’s Anglican Community School is a co-educational primary and secondary school in the northern Perth suburb of Hillarys. With a thriving music and drama programme, its theatre set in a converted chapel has seen productions of musicals Beauty & The Beast and Cabaret, along with drama productions including Antigone and Cloudstreet.

The 230-seat theatre was converted eight years ago, and has steadily upgraded its equipment along the way, moving from conventional to moving head lighting fixtures, and from analog to digital audio. One of the last surviving bits of tech from the original fit-out was a pair of JBL PRX400s as the FOH PA, who had served their purpose, but needed to be upgraded to handle the high technical standard of performances the students are now producing.


John Crofts is the Production and Hire Manager at Perth’s Power Audio Visual, who have long served St Mark’s as an audio visual installer and production company, bringing extra gear and labour when the school mounts larger, more technical productions. As a sales, installation, and rental company, Power’s market encompasses everything from backyard parties, pub and club installs, and live concerts with thousands in attendance. 

“St Mark’s runs a range of activities in its theatre,” explains John. “Being a school, most days it’s used as a classroom. It’s also used for assemblies, drama performances, musicals, arts nights with bands, and dance. Both ourselves and the theatre manager thought the FOH PA was lacking, and that we could do more in the service of better productions. We felt both the placement and limits of the existing PA were noticeable, and we thought we might have the opportunity to put something in that would blow people away.”

Working with theatre manager Noah Diamond, John and Power Audio Visual started evaluating replacements. “The theatre is very wide and shallow, so our thinking was point source wasn’t going to work in terms of coverage,” says John. “The other difficulty was the available rigging points. The conversion from chapel to theatre has meant the roof is difficult, and we can’t mount subs under the stage, because it’s concrete!”


As it happened, Power Audio Visual had been enjoying the company of the new JBL BRX300 compact line array, on demo from JBL distributor CMI Music & Audio. “We were looking at a couple of line source solutions and in terms of size, coverage, and price point, the BRX300 just ticked all the boxes,” relates John. “It’s a small theatre, so we couldn’t go any larger. With just four boxes a side, their 12 degree vertical and 110 horizontal dispersion covers the whole seating area nicely without having to do anything weird to make it work.”

The single subwoofer a side was also a perfect fit, slotting into the bracket that the old PRXs used to occupy, at the same height as the top boxes. Set-up and commissioning was a breeze due to the BRX300’s internal processing and amplification.

“As soon as we turned it on, it sounded great out-of-the-box,” reports John. While the internal DSP is handy, the install also included a dbx DriveRack PA2 which John used for the final tuning. “We tuned with the DriveRack PA2 as well as our SMAART system, which improved things a little more, not that it needed much. Now the PA is perfect for the space. The coverage and SPL front to back is even. Wherever you sit, it’s nice.”

CMI Music & Audio’s Christian Peterson, Business Manager for WA and SA, got involved with the project in its earliest stages. “I rang Christian for a site visit, we had a coffee and a chat, and a year later the project happened,” divulges John. “When it came time to decide what would go well in the room, Christian recommended the BRX300 as this kind of project is exactly what they’re designed for. I’d call him for his opinion throughout the process, and he always answers phone calls, which is just one of the reasons we love dealing with CMI.”

With 200 teachers on-site, the reception from the staff has been overwhelmingly positive. “Everyone’s really impressed, and the feedback has been great,” concludes John. “This PA is a real step-up for the school. For our part at Power, we’re impressed with the clarity of the BRX300 top boxes. They are impressive, and I would like to see more of these systems both in install and hire in WA.”


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