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Santa Monica High School’s Barnum Hall Builds Big Sound On A Budget

SANTA MONICA, CA—Barnum Hall’s long, horizontal lines, sweeping curves and other quintessential Streamline Moderne architectural elements make an unmistakable Art Deco mark on the campus of Santa Monica High School. The structure recently received a new sound system implemented with sensitive awareness to maintaining the historic nature of the venue.

“Initially the project went to bid on what was described as a very strict budget,” recalled Joe Byrne from the North Hollywood, California offices of Pro Sound. “Because of the budget limitations, I specified an analog system with a central cluster.”

One of two parties vying for the contract, Byrne and Pro Sound ultimately came in slightly under-budget, while their competitor went considerably over. Considering the difference between the two and what was provided by each, the client came back and asked Pro Sound to rebid the job, this time with a larger purse to work with.

“The budget did indeed grow the second time around,” Byrne related. “But the client was asking for significantly more in return. They wanted the system to be stereo, a digital console, and a communications system to facilitate production needs. It was a showcase room, and the sound system had to reflect that same character, all while remaining unobtrusive within the environment.”

While a line array seemed logical for the space, it wasn’t until Byrne’s discovery of QSC’s ILA (Installation Line Array) components that such technology became economically viable. “When we were in the second design phase of the Barnum Hall project, most line

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Barnum Hall on the campus of Santa Monica High School underwent a complete renovation, including the addition of a QSC ILA audio system.array systems were built for touring applications,” Byrne explains. “Touring systems have to be extra rugged, and require expensive suspension hardware. As a result, the price of most line arrays was out of reach of a budget like we had at Barnum Hall.” QSC’s ILA system, however, uses molded enclosures and a simplified rigging design built for installation applications. As a result, ILA brought the cost down and made the technology much more accessible, all while retaining the sound quality, coverage, and power of a touring system.

As utilized in Barnum Hall, seven full-range, WL2082-i ILA Series enclosures are flown left and right of the proscenium, atop which resides a single WL115-sw subwoofer on each side. Using QSC power including a PowerLight 4.0 and CX1102 and CX702 amplifiers, the stereo arrays are tri-amped and operate in conjunction with QSC BASIS 904zz processing.

Byrne noted, “By choosing ILA, we were able to work with one single supplier for all of our needs right from the output of the console to the loudspeakers.”

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