Set like a rare gem on the banks of the River Walk in San Antonio, Texas, the refurbished Aztec Theatre reopened in late 2009 as the home of San Antonio Rose Live—a unique country music revue. Built in 1926, the Aztec is classic structure that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The interior is decorated with elements inspired by Meso- American culture highlighted by a completely restored two-ton chandelier above the lobby.

Power for the main house system is provided by Crown Audio, while ten Crest CKS 800-2 power amps handle the stage wedges and six QSC DCA 3422 amps are matched to the underbalcony system. Photo by Sundance Photo Arts/Jim Johnston.

Within that classic architecture resides a modern AV system designed to bring classic country music to life. San Antonio Rose Live packs upwards of 40 songs into a two-hour program staged five times each week. The show utilizes modern sound, video, and lights to recreate music of a bygone era. CEO Greg Gallaspy describes the program by saying, “Our music is from a time when a man’s word and his handshake meant something. It was a time before music videos, MTV and MP3s. Our goal is to preserve classic country music from artists like George Jones, Tammy Wynette, Hank Williams, and Patsy Cline.”

The renovation of the theater was a three-year undertaking, so there was no room for error in outfitting the AV system. “There were two major elements to selecting the equipment for this venture,” notes Gallaspy. “First, we had to have the legendary sound that the show is aiming for, but with all the advantages of modern technology. And second, the CEO is charged with making sure that that the investors are seeing a return on their investment. There are a lot of choices out there, and we made sure both those elements were addressed in our system design and our equipment choices.”

The audio system was designed by Steven Durr Designs of Nashville. Durr prescribed an analog system with custom line array clusters of his own design. The front end consists of Shure microphones and wireless systems. “The microphones are a great example of making decisions based on ROI,” says Gallaspy. “When it came to mics and wireless, we wanted that legendary sound and legendary performance. And you can’t have product that constantly needs attention or repair. For this show, there really was no other choice but Shure.”

Executive producer Steve Hennig, who also mixes FOH for the show, agrees. “We did a shootout on the wireless mics, with four brands,” he recalls, “and they all worked fine. But the Shure UHF-R had the smooth, even frequency response we liked, had great intelligibility through our sound system, and were really comfortable to hold. Plus, the singers in the show really liked the way the handhelds felt, the weight and balance. And when you’re singing five shows a week, that’s really important. So it was an easy decision on the wireless.” A total eight channels of Shure UHF-R are used, with a mix of SM58 and Beta 58 capsules available. The entire system operates via two Shure active antennas feeding a UA845SWB wideband antenna combiner.

The stage show features nine musicians, top performers recruited from Nashville, Branson, Austin and San Antonio. Instrumentation changes with the music throughout the show and is based around electric and acoustic guitars, steel guitar (lap and pedal), upright bass, drums, and piano. The musicians on stringed switch instruments frequently as required for authenticity, bringing violins, steel guitar, banjo, mandolin, and percussion into the mix. Their classic sounds are artfully captured by a collection of over 40 Shure hardwired mics, with the classic SM57s and SM58s supported by new technology like Beta 98 miniature condensers on drums and percussion, KSM137s on acoustic instruments and cymbals, and Beta 52A on kick drum. The show’s acoustic bluegrass segment is captured via large diaphragm KSM32 studio mics.

While the emphasis is on authenticity for both the music and musicians, San Antonio Rose Live is thoroughly modern in terms of visual presentation, with all shows projected in HD via a Christie LX1000 LCD HD video projector. The action is captured via five Sony BRC H700 remote control cameras, augmented by two Sony HVR-Z5U handheld cameras, with the images presented in real time through a Panasonic AV-HS400A HD/SD switcher. The infrastructure for the video system includes a Vaddio ProductionVIEW camera controller, Extron video/audio distribution amp, and Crestron CP2E control processor, with a pair of Yorkville YSM2P studio reference monitors.

Hennig’s front of house setup consists of a 48-channel Allen & Heath ML5000 console, with outboard effects that include three Lexicon PCM41 digital delays, three Roland SRV-2000 digital reverbs, and ten dbx 160X compressors. An A&H GL2800 resides in monitor world, sending 16 mixes to the various stage positions.

The band uses a mix of seven Shure PSM 600 IEM systems and nine Clair WEDGE floor monitors. The in-ear systems all run through Shure’s PA821SWB wideband antenna combiner, and the performers use stock Shure E5 earphones. “We find that the singers prefer to use the floor wedges, while the band is generally on in-ears,” notes Hennig. “Fortunately, our musicians are pros who don’t need a lot of volume on stage, which is great because it lets me get better results out front.”

Of course, the bottom line is the house sound. “This show is all about the music,” says Hennig, “and Steve Durr put together an incredible system for us. The stage is designed for acoustics, so when you stand on it and play, it resonates through your body. The entertainers feel it when they’re playing, and it really helps them play as a group.”

The house sound system is based around a pair of proprietary line array clusters. The two main Steve Durr Designs HL clusters are augmented by five 18-inch scoop sub cabinets for low frequency extension, while six custom 2-by-12- inch boxes add reinforcement under the balcony.

“It’s a line array, but all the boxes are hornloaded,” says Hennig.

“Our gear runs the gamut from analog to digital, from classic to custom,” notes Steve Hennig. “Our show has no MC, no comedians, and no dancers. It’s all about the music and authenticity. That’s what separates San Antonio Rose Live from the rest.”

Equipment List

1 Allen & Heath ML5000 48 ch. console
1 Allen & Heath GL2800 40 ch. console
1 Lawson Plate Reverb
1 TC Electronics M-One XL Digital FX
3 Lexicon PCM 41 Digital Delay
3 Roland SRV-2000 Digital Reverb
2 Empirical Labs Distressor Compressor 10 dbx 160X Compressors
1 Aphex Expressor compressor/limiter
1 Alesis ML 9600 CD Recorder Player
1 Tascam CDRW900 CD Recorder Player
1 Presonus Central Station w/CSRI Remote
2 Furman PL-8 Plus Power Conditioners

2 Steve Durr Designs HL Line Array Clusters
5 Steve Durr Designs 118 Custom Scoop Sub Cabinets
6 Steve Durr Designs Custom 212 Under Balcony Speakers

3 Furman PL-8 Plus Power Conditioners
4 Utah Scientific ADA-8
2 Utah Scientific PS-50
1 Clear-Com MS-704 Main Station
1 Aphex Dominator II
4 White Instruments 4000 EQ
4 White Paramedic System Processor/EQ
10 Crown MA-5000VZ Power Amps
2 Crown MA2400 Power Amps
10 Crest CKS 800-2 Power Amps (Monitors)
6 QSC DCA 3422 Power Amps (Under Balcony Speakers)

1 Allen & Heath GL2800M 48x16 Monitor Console
4 dbx 2231 dual-channel graphic EQ/limiter
9 Clair Brothers “The Wedge” Floor Monitors
7 Shure PSM 600 IEM Systems
1 Shure PA821SWB Wideband Antenna Combiner
1 Shure PA805SWB Passive Directional Antenna

1 Christie LX1000 LCD HD Video Projector
1 Panasonic AV-HS400A HD/SD switcher
1 Vaddio ProductionVIEW Precision Camera Controller
5 Vaddio Quick Connect CCU
3 Vaddio Quick Connect Pro
2 Sony HVR-Z5U Handheld HD Cameras
5 Sony BRC-H700 Remote Controlled HD Cameras
1 Extron Video/Audio Distribution Amp
1 Gefen DVI to HDSDI Plus Scaler
1 RCA 42-inch Video Monitor
1 Sony RDR GX355 DVD Recorder
1 Tascam DV-DO1U Video Player
1 Microboards Copywriter DVD Duplicator
1 MacBook Pro
2 Yorkville YSM2P Studio Reference Monitors
1 Furman PL8-II Power Conditioner
1 Aphex Dominator 720 Peak Limiter
1 Blonder Tongue RMDA Series Distribution Amp
1 Sony RM BR 300 Remote Control Unit
1 Crestron CP2E Control Processor
1 Extron ISS 506 Switcher

8 Shure SM58
14 Shure SM57
8 Shure Beta 98D/S
2 Shure Beta 98H/C
2 Shure Beta 52A
2 Shure KSM32
6 Shure KSM137
8 ch. Shure UHF-R Wireless (UR4D receivers—UR2/SM58, UR2/Beta 58 and UR1 transmitters)
1 Shure UA845SWB Antenna Combiner
2 UA870WB Active Antennas
4 Countryman Type 85 DI
4 Radial ProDI
2 Cable Factory DI-PRO


From top to bottom—from the Sony video system to the Shure wireless to the custom sound system, we haven’t had a single problem—knock on wood! After all the investment and risk, it’s very gratifying.

The microphones are a great example of making decisions based on ROI. When it came to mics and wireless, we wanted that legendary sound and legendary performance. And you can’t have product that constantly needs attention or repair.

— Greg Gallaspy, San Antonio Rose CEO