From a letter from Steven Larsen; Conductor, Rockford Symphony Orchestra

So far the enhancement system is an unqualified success. Many, many people have spoken to me or written to me to comment on their experience in different parts of the hall, and almost unanimously the reports are raves. Perhaps the best compliment of all came from a trained musician, MM in choral conducting. He heard two performances of the RSO, was very impressed with the acoustics and reacted with complete surprise when I told him about the enhancement system. He thought that the sound was totally natural.

The best compliment I can probably pay to you is that the system is wholly transparent. Only if one remembered the old, unmodified acoustical qualities of the theater, or if one had the opportunity to "mute" the system during a performance would one know that any electronic modification was taking place. I had feared that the added reverberation would sound tinny and artificial; in fact it sounds wholly natural

All in all, everyone, including members of the orchestra, are delight with the sound. And rehearsals in the rehearsal room have been pleasant, also. Choruses like it very much. We find that for the orchestra we must completely deploy all the curtains in order to attenuate loudness. Still, I am adamant at correcting people who are fond of saying that the room was built to exactly duplicate the sound on stage. It ain't so, and never can be. It's still a bit of a shock to make the transition, and so we are insistent on rehearsing on stage whenever possible.

Thanks for your hard work at making this project successful, and from our point of view, it certainly is a success.

Coronado Theatre, Rockford, IL
The Coronado Theatre in Rockford, IL was built in 1927, and has gained landmark status because of its unique design and historical significance. Over the years, it has been host to numerous performers, including the Marx Brothers, Frank Sinatra and Bob Dylan. However, in recent years, the theater began to lose some of its luster, and prominent entertainers began passing over the Coronado for bigger and better venues.

Last December, the renovation of the theater marked its return to prominence as a first rate concert venue. The project took 18 months and, to meet the technical demands of today's entertainment, included a complete overhaul of the theater's audio system. The system was designed by acoustical consultant and audio system designer the Talaske Group of Oak Park, IL, and is comprised of two components. There is a left-center-right reinforcement system, used to support day to day activities and local community arts groups; and a LARES acoustic enhancement system, intended primarily for use by the Rockford Symphony Orchestra, which now makes its home in the Coronado Theatre.

Because the Coronado Theatre is a landmark, the Talaske Group was not allowed to change the physical structure of the room. Since the dimensions of the theater are not conducive to the acoustical needs of a symphony orchestra, Jonathan Laney, senior audio consultant for the Talaske Group, opted for an enhancement system that would provide optimal sound quality for the orchestra that the architecture was incapable of producing To do this, they used specialized signal processing by LARES (Lexicon Acoustic Reinforcement and Enhancement System).

The room has a very large protruding balcony, which is normally detrimental to orchestral acoustics, because people very deep under the balcony have a significantly different experience aurally. Furthermore, the balcony takes considerable space away from the main volume, and the room does not have enough remaining volume to create the reverberance or spaciousness appropriate for orchestral music.

According to Scott Leonard, president of Pro Audio Designs, which did the installation at the Coronado, the LARES system is a cost-effective alternative to creating an acoustically efficient environment. "I think we're going to see a lot more acceptance of the LARES systems, because they work so well," Leonard said. "They're very cost-effective in terms of the costs of changing the wood and acoustics of the room, especially when you go into an existing room. It allows you to do things that you couldn't do before because it would be so far outside the budget."

Laney echoed this sentiment. "From an acoustical consultant's standpoint, it's another tool that we have in our bag of tricks that can be used in the appropriate situation. Particularly, if it's a renovation where you have an existing condition, I think it is a tool that is useful to the acoustician to achieve what that expected acoustic signature is for that performance type."

Aside from implementing a high-quality sound system, one of the biggest challenges was incorporating the equipment into the theater without drawing attention to it. Because of the multitude of loudspeakers, this was not an easy task. To do this, Paul Siemborski, project director for Cleveland, OH based architects van Dijk Pace Westlake, collaborated with the project team to creatively incorporate the equipment into the building. This included hiding loudspeakers in windows, painting them to match their surroundings and installing the subwoofers in to plaster.
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