Vancouver Performing Arts Center Gets Powerful New Sound System

Vancouver Performing Arts Center Gets Powerful New Sound System

At 372 seats, Capilano University’s BlueShore Financial Centre for the Performing Arts is intimate, cozy, and well proportioned for this mid-sized liberal-arts university in North Vancouver. Now, thanks to its recent upgrade to an L-Acoustics sound system, installed by AV systems integrator Solotech Vancouver, the busy campus arts venue feels even more intimate.

The BlueShore at Cap, as it’s known, hosts a wide range of events, from theatrical productions to concert performances by the school’s music department and touring artists. Prior to the system retrofit, the venue’s popularity with the community and visiting artists was pushing its basic PA system past its limits, and the school’s own ambitions for the space demanded a sound system that could cover all of the artistic territories the theater, jazz, and music departments had staked out.

Today, that mission has been accomplished in the form of a new L-Acoustics system comprised of Kara, ARCS WiFo, and 8XTi elements, which Solotech’s Larry Darling specified with critical input from those intimately familiar with the venue’s needs.

L-Acoustics ARCS WiFo arrays flank the main central Kara(i) and SB18i arrays at the BlueShore Financial Centre for the Performing Arts in North Vancouver. “We wanted to make sure that the theater’s system would satisfy the needs of both the university’s theater and music departments,” said Andy Horka, an instructor who teaches sound design at Capilano University.

Horka worked with the theater’s production technician, Brian Morrison, and Lawrence Wu, also an instructor at Capilano University’s music department and a live sound engineer. Together, they designed a system with L-Acoustics and Solotech that could easily accommodate both musical and theatrical productions and keep the school at the leading edge of venue sound.

The result is a system that features seven Kara speakers flown in front of three SB18i subwoofers in a center array, with eight ARCS WiFo speakers positioned four per side as side fills. However, Horka points out that the entire system is largely based around the use of five coaxial 8XTi speakers used as front fills and arrayed across the front of the stage, and just below it, in custom-built soffits. These speakers are precisely aimed and time-aligned to produce imaging that keeps the sonic focus on the stage.

“By positioning these front-fill speakers this way, we achieve a more effective overlap and much better imaging,” he said. “All front-fill speakers are timed back to the intersect point [in the center of the stage]. Combined with the rest of the system, the coverage in the theater is incredibly even and consistent, for any type of sound.”

That kind of even coverage also allows the system to produce substantial SPL, without overwhelming the audience. “When we were rigging out the system, we measured the sound at about 112 dB at the FOH position,” he recalled, “yet we were able to carry on a normal conversation. The music was crystal clear. No distortion whatsoever. Just great sound.”

Horka complimented more than the L-Acoustics’ sound; he also noted how the Soundvision software’s acoustical simulation, real-time mapping in coverage and delay modes, and user-friendly 3D graphic interface helped Solotech precisely position each speaker.

And while the L-Acoustics system was able to address all of Horka’s needs for theater applications, the music department had its own requirements. “The theater has wood walls, so we needed the new system to have a high degree of directionality in order to keep the sound energy off the walls and on the seating area,” explained Capilano’s Lawrence Wu. “The L-Acoustics system has excellent directionality, so we’re getting coverage exactly where we need it.”