SIA Acoustics Renovates Historic Rialto Theatre Sound System

NEW YORK, NY--SIA Acoustics recently completed a unique two-part renovation in downtown Tucson. Originally a vaudeville theatre circa 1920, now a major entertainment venue, the not-for-profit Rialto Theatre presented a unique set of challenges calling for both acoustical and electro-acoustical solutions.

In order to improve the acoustics in the theatre, “The Rialto presents a wide range of musical and spoken word productions, so we selected a sound system capable of serving these varied types, providing both improved intelligibility and musical impact,” says founder Sam Berkow. “The system will provide both clear, intelligible speech to every seat, while still being able to provide tonally balanced and high impact music.”

Berkow goes on to say, “Acoustically we worked on improving the tonal balance of the space. The room was a good space for amplified performances as we found it, so we only made a few changes, mostly to help control mid and low frequency reverberation, and help the room support a much more powerful sound system. The addition of a large ‘bass trap’ at the rear of the balcony will act to improve the sound throughout the theatre.”

The ability to handle both acoustic issues as well as state-of-the-art equipment upgrades maintains SIA’s place at the forefront of acoustical engineering industry. Berkow replaced the existing sound system with two large arrays of the JBL Vertec series line cabinets. The Rialto production manager Bruce Momich chose the JBL cabinets based on their excellent audio performance and their acceptance by the tour sound community. Executive Director of the not-for-profit theatre, Douglas Biggers, oversaw the 18 month planning process. Biggers says, “The new sound system will help us provide better sound quality to both our audiences in the house and performers on stage.”

According to Biggers, "Sam Berkow is a joy to work with. In his site visits and follow up communications, we appreciated his infectious enthusiasm, his amazing expertise and his nuanced sensitivity to the unique requirements of our historic 1920 vaudeville theatre which now hosts a wide range of amplified contemporary music. Sam's recommendations enabled us to take a quantum leap in sound quality within the budget constraints of our nonprofit. The result is a splendid improvement that has people talking all over Tucson. We couldn't be more pleased with Sam and SIA.”