Each summer since 1982, countless music lovers in Central Indiana have flocked to historic Conner Prairie to hear the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra (ISO) perform its annual Kroger Symphony on the Prairie outdoor concert series. This past season, the ISO had a new sound thanks to an L-Acoustics K2 loudspeaker system complemented with Syva delays deployed by Mid-America Sound.
With a calendar mix of traditional classical pieces, artist/film-themed nights, and lively pop sets—including ISO’s backing of both The Beach Boys and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy last year—the festival draws as many as 13,000 concertgoers a night to its more than two dozen performances at the Conner Prairie Amphitheater in Fishers, Indiana.
Mid-America Sound (MAS) Senior Audio Engineer and Audio Operations Manager Kyle Spurling notes that his company did an on-site demo of its K2 system for the ISO at the outdoor venue towards the end of the 2017 summer series and was quickly asked to bring it back in for the entire 2018 season. “The goal was to provide a rig that could cover a variety of acts, and be tailored to suit all the needs of the symphony, while also streamlining the installation and removal of the system every week,” he said. “We’ve had plenty of solid experience with K2 on the road and knew that it was the right choice for this series.”
The final system selection was comprised of six K2 mains per side, each flown from a single point on a 30-foot PA tower on either side of the stage. A pair of SB28 subs stood on end directly beneath each K2 array, and two compact Kiva II enclosures were discreetly hung from the amphitheater’s roof structure for center fill.
Left and right outfill was achieved by a single Syva enclosure mounted via a Syva Bar to each main PA tower. Six additional Syva were distributed around the back perimeter of the lawn seating area as delays, all mounted to custom-designed towers and similarly hung from Syva Bars. A total of seven LA8 amplified controllers powered the K2 arrays and SB28 subs, while three LA4X drove the rest of the system components.
“When it came to what element would be best suited for delays and outfills, it was a ‘no-brainer’ on utilizing Syva,” said Spurling. “The Syva were seamless from mains to delays, mains to outfills, and between all six independent zones of delays, mostly due to the 140° horizontal dispersion. Given the fact that we had just over 25 degrees of vertical coverage, being able to actually get them to a decent height and focusing them downwards a couple degrees in order to not overshoot the audience was ideal in attaining that transition we were looking for. The voicing between the K2 and the Syva are what I feel gave that final bit of icing on the cake because it really made you unable to discern which source you were hearing, making it function how you wish all delays would.”
For the outdoor summer series, ISO FOH Engineer and Audio Crew Chief Alan Alford said that the orchestra performs under a highly reflective shell that is ideal for acoustic instrumentation, and especially for the classical and pops orchestral music that is being presented. “The microphone techniques I use enable me to reinforce that sound through the L-Acoustics system to the rest of the patrons seated as far back as 400 feet to the rear of the listening space in a manner that provides a pleasurable listening experience,” he said. “The L-Acoustics sound system is very complementary in presenting extremely clean and transparent audio reproduction of the natural sounds of the instruments on the stage. I have had many new patrons, as well as yearly subscribers, pass along their compliments to the quality of sound that was easily attainable with last season’s sound system upgrade.”
He added, “Due to little information being emitted from the rear of the enclosures, I found there was plenty of gain before feedback. In an environment where there are as many as 56 open microphones in the sound system at one time, being empowered with this kind of artistic freedom made it a real joy to mix the orchestra for the audiences. And in cases where the orchestra is joined by a band of instrumentalists requiring onstage amplification, we then utilize clip-on microphones for an even closer capture of the stringed instruments, and the L-Acoustics rig provides equally great sound reproduction through this type of mic arrangement as well.”
With ISO’s 38th annual three-month summer series already fast approaching, several new enhancements have been announced: the addition of three large video screens, expanded seating areas, and an increased count of 35 shows. What will remain the same, however, is the presence of K2 and Syva systems provided by MAS—albeit with the likely addition of more subs and delays to accommodate the larger crowds expected to attend shows by Smokey Robinson, Scotty McCreery, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, Kenny G, En Vogue, and Wynonna & The Big Noise.
Reflecting on last year’s success while looking forward to this season’s run, Spurling said, “I honestly don’t know what other product line we could’ve achieved such great results with, using so few speaker cabinets. If it wasn’t for Syva, in particular, the delays would’ve been much higher in number of zones and physical elements in each zone, making the same results a much more costly endeavor, so they were the perfect solution. Plus, they just look cool! Everything performed flawlessly throughout the season and we’re already anticipating another stellar run with K2 and Syva at Conner Prairie.”