A Vegas-Inspired Experience Comes to Nashville

The stage at the Woolworth Theatre in Nashville, powered by DiGiCo, EAW, and Dante solutions.
(Image credit: EAW)

Once a historic downtown Nashville building, the Woolworth Theatre brings a Vegas-inspired experience to Music City. Transformed and envisioned by country music artist Chris Wicks, the theater hosts musical groups, acrobatic performances, and comedy acts to entertain all of Nashville. To bring the audio to life and provide flexible and complete coverage, the venue turned to a DiGiCo SD12T console and EAW Anna ADAPTive system.

The central hub for the venue’s audio is a DiGiCo SD12T console optimized for theatrical applications, as well as a D-Rack and DMI-Waves card, all purchased through the Brentwood, TN office of S&L Integrated, and installed by account executive Nathan Tomberlin and his team.

“We chose the SD12T because it can handle theatrical and music production equally well,” said Hayden Chipley, technical director and FOH engineer for the Woolworth Theatre. “It was important that we had a desk that could do both, with plenty of worksurface area, and yet also have a compact form factor and footprint to maximize the available space without compromising power and features.”

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When Tomberlin walked into the theater for the first time, he immediately knew designing the sound for this room was not going to be straightforward. “From a sound design perspective, the room is very challenging,” he said. “It has a very low and shallow balcony—from the stage to the back wall it’s only about 40 feet deep. Rather than a traditional theater that’s long and narrow, this is the complete opposite. We also had the presence of glass in the balcony, which we could not touch due to the building’s historical status. We knew we were going to have to throw back the audio and needed a system that could keep all our anticipated reflection issues to a minimum."

The stage at the Woolworth Theatre in Nashville, powered by DiGiCo, EAW, and Dante solutions.

(Image credit: DiGiCo)

Tomberlin and his team designed a system featuring EAW’s Anna ADAPTive Series loudspeakers. “With Anna, we could design the sound to be directed away from the balcony face,” Tomberlin explained. “We would still have audio coming towards the stage, but it provided a big enough dip or contrast to absolve the reflections that would cause a problem. In addition, since the room was being used for various other concerts and events, we needed to design a system that could not just cater to vocal performance, but also operate at up to 105 dB with a country band in the room. It’s a very good feeling when the design and the actual measurements are spot on, as was the case for this project. We needed a pro rig and the Anna’s provided that.”

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The new EAW PA system installed at the theater features six Anna boxes, with three speakers discreetly placed behind cutouts on each side of the stage. Also included in the new system were JF60Zs for front fills, four SBX218s for subs under the stage, MKD1064s for side fill, MKD1026s for the outer balcony with RSX12M floor monitors and UXA4410 DSP amplifiers driving the fronts and the out fills. And the audio come together over Dante through the DiGiCo SD12 digital console.

The venue has been hosting its first original production, Shiners, created by and co-starring Wicks, since the show opened last October, and other theatrical residencies are planned. “The SD12T is playing an important part in making the Woolworth Theatre an important venue in Nashville,” said Chipley.

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“I had heard EAW’s ADAPTive products before and I knew that no one manages audio coverage like they do,” Tomberlin added. “EAW is really the only one that does it on a large scale and does it well. What made it even easier is that John Mills, whom I had worked with in the past, was now working at EAW. Also, HWPco, (a trusted AV manufacturer’s sales representative that I have worked with), had picked up EAW as an AV systems partner in the area. All the pieces fell into place perfectly and the decision to go with EAW was a no brainer.”

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