Lutcher Theater Turns to Wi-Fi, RF Assistive Listening Systems

Listen EVERYWHERE and ListenRF, show herein an EAW rack, power assistive listening support at the Lutcher Theater.
(Image credit: Listen Technologies)

The Lutcher Theater for the Performing Arts in Orange, TX, recently installed Listen Technologies' Listen EVERYWHERE and ListenRF assistive listening systems in its 1,500-seat theater. The systems help patrons, actors, and crew hear clearly so they can fully engage in the theater experience. Patron responses to the systems have been very positive. 

Lutcher Theater decided to upgrade its 30-year-old infrared assistive listening system because patrons were increasingly experiencing interference from LED screens in the theater. Full Compass, a Madison, Wisconsin-based supplier of pro audio, video, and lighting equipment, recommended Listen Technologies’ Wi-Fi and radio frequency (RF) assistive listening systems to serve Lutcher Theater patrons and give them a choice for the best individual experience. 

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Assistive Listening Support: Two Options for Clear Audio  

Listen EVERYWHERE and ListenRF, show herein an EAW rack, power assistive listening support at the Lutcher Theater.

(Image credit: Listen technologies)

Listen EVERYWHERE streams audio over Wi-Fi through a customizable app for patrons who want to access the audio for performances on their smartphone. Patrons download the free app before the performance, connect to Lutcher Theater’s guest Wi-Fi network, select the channel to hear the audio, and listen to the performance audio through their own headphones or earbuds connected to their phone. Patrons do not need to borrow or return any assistive listening equipment at the theater. 

ListenRF uses radio frequency to transmit audio to small, discreet, lightweight, and easy-to-use receivers that patrons wear on a lanyard around their neck or clipped to their belt. They can hear audio clearly through headphones or earbuds connected to the receiver. For patrons with hearing aids or cochlear implants, neck loops are also available. ListenRF is ideal for patrons who prefer not to use their smartphones. 

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On average, Lutcher Theater checks out 15-20 assistive listening devices for each performance. However, on some performance nights, there have been as many as 50-60 requests for assistive listening devices. Lutcher Theater technical director David Boehme selected ListenRF 5200 iDSP receivers to provide the best experience for patrons who prefer to use a traditional assistive listening device. Boehme can hear the normalization of the volume in these high-end receivers and appreciates how that elevates a user’s experience.  

“I can confidently hand out the ListenRF receivers at the beginning of a performance and know that they’ll work without interference and with the best quality audio,” said Boehme. “Plus, our patrons are delighted with the improved sound quality. One couple was visibly excited and repeatedly said these devices sound so much better than the old system.” 

Listen Technologies Benefits: Easy to Use and Versatile 

The outside of Lutcher Theater at sunset.

(Image credit: Listen Technologies)

It was important to Lutcher Theater that the assistive listening systems perform and make accessing clear audio easy for patrons. 

“So far, with the ListenRF system, we really appreciate the straightforward arrangement of the charging cradles, especially the extra slot for an ID. Also, not needing to remove batteries for charging is awesome. Most amazing is the feature of the devices starting up on their own when removed from the charger. No power-on button pushing needed, so cool,” added Boehme. 

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The Listen EVERYWHERE system is also being used in the Theater’s quick change wardrobe area. Lutcher Theater plugged a portable speaker into an iPad streaming the performance audio via the Listen EVERYWHERE app so actors can hear the show offstage and know where they need to be. If the smart device is connected to the network, the audio from the performance is available throughout the entire theater so guests who step outside the theater into the lobby or adjacent areas can hear the performance audio.  

“Lutcher Theater has a long history of hosting the best in world-class entertainment and delighting patrons with outstanding performances,” said Sam Nord, vice president of global sales at Listen Technologies. “Inclusion and accessibility are hallmarks of the Lutcher Theater experience and we’re honored they have selected Listen Technologies’ solutions to provide superior audio experiences and offer patrons a choice of assistive listening options to suit their needs and preferences best.” 

The AVNetwork staff are storytellers focused on the professional audiovisual and technology industry. Their mission is to keep readers up-to-date on the latest AV/IT industry and product news, emerging trends, and inspiring installations.