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Snake On The Bayou

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Northwestern State University Upgrades Sound System With Aviom

NATCHITOCHES, LA—Northwestern State University recently underwent an upgrade of its aging auditorium PA system. The A. A. Fredericks Auditorium is one of three spaces within the school’s theatre department, the other two being smaller black box spaces. Sean Parr, head of the school’s sound department, designed the system, and American Audio was the installer on the project.

Noting that every three years arts departments are eligible for grants, Parr

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Northwestern State University upgraded its sound system with a 48-channel Soundcraft console and an Aviom digital snake. began looking into an upgrade for the theater. “I took a look at the type of shows we were doing and would be doing in the next 10 years or so,” he said. “I tried to put together an ideal equipment list that would handle the production aspect and the education aspect well, all together in one package. A good example is when we were looking at a large-format mixer for the musicals. Everyone’s of course going digital, but I chose an analog board because it’s easier to teach a student that’s never touched a board before. We ended up coming up with a design that would allow whatever gear is left over to trickle down to the other two spaces.”

Parr put together a system that would be flexible for any type of production, as each production can vary radically. “We needed a new center cluster system, so we went with an EAW KF 330 line array. We needed a big board so we went with a Soundcraft 48-channel mixer, because in the few years I’ve done this, Soundcraft has got a great reputation and was in our price range. I looked at things like having hearing impaired system because a lot of our audience from the community is older—there’s a large retirement community in the area. We ended up with some Rane DSP units for lines in the mixer and the amp, so we’re able to do some automation and have some presets available to maximize our system for the minimum of staff we have.”

To pull together all the equipment Parr looked into an Aviom digital snake. As the theater is configured in a number

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Aviom’s Pro 6416m mic input module allows the theater department at Northwestern to have flexible productions. of ways each season, Parr said, “We needed a snake that could be flexible with us. I asked Aviom to come in and do a demo for us, and they did us a favor by letting us know the Pro 6416m mic input module was coming out, so we held off until it became available. The great thing is, this type of device become such a huge thing in the industry now, so I’m able to get my students hands-on with that. The Aviom system is so simple to use. I walked a student though the system in five minutes, and then we went through the system in front of an audience immediately after. He was able to run it without a problem through the whole presentation, so the ease of use is huge.”

The upgrade was a great success. “Digital snakes and line arrays were new to me in a practical standpoint, but once they were in I had a pretty good grasp,” Parr said. “It helped that I had designed the system from the beginning. We were also very lucky with the contractor we had, American Audio. They did great work, and were extremely efficient. They did most of the install within three to four days.”

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