The yearlong renovation of the Simpsonville Arts Center in Simpsonville, SC, came to a close on Feb. 15, 2022. The grand-opening event revealed a revamped venue whose auditorium had reduced capacity from 900 to 380, with the space used for larger, more comfortable seating and more legroom, as well as a lobby with a ticket desk and concessions area. Other changes to the auditorium included adding acoustic panels and updating all the sound and light equipment, installing new stage curtains, and revamping and expanding the dressing room area under the stage.
Perhaps the most significant change is one most people never see but everyone hears: A new RF Venue wireless infrastructure comprising two DISTRO9 HDR antenna distribution systems, able to accommodate the Arts Center’s 16 channels of Sennheiser G4 wireless microphones, and a cross-polarized, hybrid-design Diversity Fin Antenna to assure that there will never be any dropouts. The RF Venue equipment was installed by Roebuck, SC-based integrator Productions Unlimited, which also designed and installed a new TW Audio PA system with Danley Sound Labs subs, and an Allen & Heath Avantis front-of-house console. The renovated venue gives the city a quality locus for performing arts, including a second home for the Mill Town Players, who will stage their inaugural season of six theater shows there.
“The city had been looking at creating a performing arts space for some time, and this was an older city school building that was a good fit for that,” said Jordan Tripp, AV department manager for Productions Unlimited, which also installed lighting and rigging systems for the new venue.
The wireless audio was a particular concern. The venue management wanted as much of it as they could fit, in this case 16 channels—and the system had to be able to negotiate the architecture and geometry of an older building. Perhaps most concerning of all was that the Simpsonville Arts Center was literally next door to First Baptist Church Simpsonville, which has a large stage, auditorium, and balcony, and uses what Tripp estimated is more than 60 channels of wireless microphones for its services.
“A pair of multi-zone RF Venue DISTRO9 HDRs gave us the channel count we needed, and it let us split the 16 channels into two bands for better management and maximum system stability, as well as consolidating all of the receivers into a single rack,” Tripp said. Tripp credited Productions Unlimited senior AV systems engineer Jim Breitmeier for completion of the audio system design, as he had the foresight to divide the Senneiser G4 wireless into two frequency bands. “But we also had to keep an eye on all of the RF next door. The Diversity Fin antenna was the perfect solution for that—its cross-polarized hybrid design pretty much eliminates the possibilities for dropouts. It’s the anchor for what is an incredibly stable, rock-solid RF environment here now.”