Anoka High School
Turn and click. It's that easy for faculty and staff at Anoka High School in suburban Minneapolis, Minnesota, to optimize the sound system for a variety of events. The 850-seat school auditorium recently added a ControlSpace ESP-88 system from Bose. Now teachers, music directors and custodians easily can select the proper preset system configuration with the turn of a knob.
It started as a desire to reduce trips upstairs to the sound room every time the sound system needed to be turned on or a mic hooked up. It developed into an easy-to-use system with significant acoustic improvement, according to the orchestra director at the school, Mike Halstenson.
"Our Bose speaker system is about 12 years old now," he notes, "and we were very happy with it. The real issue was so many people needing to go upstairs to the sound booth to turn something on and then come back down. Or a custodian going up there to get a mic for a faculty meeting and finding the board all rigged up for a sophisticated theatrical production."
Halstenson adds, "Now, with this new system, we have it so much simpler. We can just go onstage and turn a knob or push a button for what we want."
Making it all happen was EMI Audio of Minneapolis, a Bose dealer for a quarter century that installed the auditorium's sound system.
"I thought, from the minute I first saw the ControlSpace system, that it was something I was going to be able to use with many of our current customers to update systems and that it would bring us new accounts, too," says Jeff Geisler, president of EMI Audio.
"People are generally afraid of their sound systems," Geisler explains. "I've gone into customers where they haven't touched the controls. Ever. Now we can give customers all the control their mixer permits without the complexity. The controls make it so simple to use, and they are elegant."
He quickly made his first ESP-88 proposal for the high school theater. "Two days later," he says, "they approved the funds for the budget."
The auditorium has a busy schedule and is in use about 25 days every month. "We average about three musical productions a year, from Les Misérables to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, with around a half-dozen performances, plus rehearsals," Halstenson explains. And his list continues: "We do at least 50 concerts a year, plus practices. We've had the late jazz trumpeter Maynard Ferguson, a Russian ballet troupe, solo guitarists, dance performances and all of those types of things."
Added to approximately 125 musical performances are student assemblies, lectures, school board meetings, special town caucuses and frequent small meetings held in the mezzanine area at the back of the auditorium.
The new ControlSpace system, which was installed in just two days, consists of the ESP-88 engineered sound processor, two CC-64 control centers (in the sound booth and on stage), and a CC-16 zone controller located at mezzanine level.
The ESP-88 system replaced numerous pieces of analog and older digital equipment. Geisler adds, "It's really nice that the processor allows you more than just processing. The ESP-88 functions as compressor, mixer, router, EQ and delay. For the money, being able to control 16 channels with one interface is pretty slick."
An incredible difference
"It was fascinating to hear the same speakers after so many years," Halstenson enthuses. "After they re-equalized the system, there was an immediate sense of clarity and better presence, just an incredible difference in sound from what I'd heard only two days before."
The auditorium's Bose sound system also includes six Panaray® 502® A loudspeakers, two 502 B Acoustimass® bass loudspeakers and an Acoustic Wave® Cannon™ loudspeaker. Four Bose FreeSpace® Model 32 loudspeakers complete the auditorium's loudspeaker complement.
Geisler explains the markedly improved sound with the same loudspeakers. "Quite a few pieces of older electronics came out when we installed the ControlSpace processor, including some analog devices," he says. "The ESP-88 gives you much more control of gain structure, and fewer devices mean less noise being introduced into the audio chain. So now the high school has a 100% digital solution with the much better performance specifications ControlSpace provides."
Easy to expand
"We would not have done this before," Geisler says. "But adding the new jacks was simple with the ESP-88. Now they don't have to turn on their 40-channel mixer to use monitors on stage. We were able to configure the ControlSpace system to operate everything through it, so only the actual equipment being used in a specific configuration is powered up for that configuration."
"It is really clean," Halstenson comments. "The performances look a lot better without all the cables running from the back of the stage."