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Celebrity Theatre Launches New System with Tony Bennett Show

by John McJunkin • in
  • Features
  • October 2018
• Created: October 11, 2018

Veteran Artist Performs with Brand-New Sound System

The Celebrity Theatre features seating in the round for 2,650 patrons and now a Bose ShowMatch DeltaQ line array system.

The Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix, AZ updated its house array with the installation of a ShowMatch DeltaQ system from Bose Professional. Celebrity officially unveiled the modernization with a performance featuring the legendary Tony Bennett in August.

A theater in the round with a stage that literally revolves, the Celebrity is a treat for concertgoers, who can view artists from a multitude of angles. This unique arrangement creates some technical challenges, so the designers who specified and developed the system applied some venue-specific strategies to achieve a successful install that delivers top-end quality within this venue’s unique shape.

Tony Bennett and his band performed Aug. 7, 2018

‡‡         A Phoenix Icon

The Celebrity Theatre — both an iconic venue in Phoenix, as well as a standout among all the city’s historical landmarks — commemorated its 50th year in 2014. It was designed in 1963 to serve as a multipurpose conference center and concert venue. It opened on Jan. 13, 1964 with the musical, South Pacific, starring Betsy Palmer. Since then, the stage has seen the likes of George Carlin, Joe Cocker, Diana Ross, Lynyrd Skynyrd, David Bowie and Fleetwood Mac, among many other legendary performers. The venue seats 2,650, with no seat more than 70 feet from the stage, an intimacy that makes the venue very popular among concertgoers.

Tom Young, longtime FOH engineer for Tony Bennett.

‡‡         Challenges — and Solutions

The venue’s round shape poses challenges not seen in most other facilities — namely, a constantly curving rear wall — and in the specific case of the Celebrity, a dome-shaped ceiling. This dome tends to focus any energy dispersed toward it downward — not unlike a parabolic dish — so to the degree that it is possible, it’s very important to avoid directing energy toward the ceiling. And indeed, the constantly curving rear wall is another issue that requires attention. Most venues have a flat wall at the rear of the room, so the atypical curved wall encircling Celebrity’s stage requires a little outside-the-box thinking.

As with any other room, delivery of consistent SPL from front to back is important, but in this case, control over the dispersion pattern is very important to avoid the negative consequences of directing sound toward the energy-focusing ceiling dome. “Due to its proven sound quality and the promising performance for the space, music acts and other artists will undoubtedly benefit from a system that directs more sound to the audience and less to the walls and floors,” said Celebrity Theater general manager Alycia Klein. The ShowMatch system in the Celebrity is flown from the ceiling, and could be described as four stereo rigs forming an outward-facing square that’s centered over the round stage. Between the two three-box arrays of each stereo pair is a flown LF cluster of six of the system’s ShowMatch SMS118 DeltaQ single-18 subwoofers enclosures in a cardioid configuration.

Eight more three-box arrays comprise a delay ring situated in a wider circle to serve the rear of the room. In all, the main system totals 24 subwoofers and 48 full range enclosures. The Celebrity Theatre also features a VIP area above the main seating area and opposite the nominal front-of-house mix location, and this area is served by six Bose RoomMatch Utility RMU208 enclosures.

The entire system is managed by a Bose ControlSpace ESP1280C Series engineered sound processor, and powered by 32 Bose PowerMatch 8500N amplifiers. These connect via Bose’ proprietary AmpLink cards, each handling up to eight channels of uncompressed digital audio that’s daisy-chained between all the devices.

Tony Bennett at the Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix

‡‡         Tony Bennett Takes the Spotlight

The Bose ShowMatch system made its debut Aug. 7, 2018 with a performance by the legendary Tony Bennett, who had just celebrated his 92nd birthday a few days before (Aug. 3). Bennett’s daughter, Antonia, opened for the renowned crooner, and her set of pop/jazz standards was warmly received by the audience, but the crowd truly came alive once Bennett took to the stage. Despite his 92 years, Bennett exhibited substantial energy and spunk on stage. Tom Ranier handled piano duties, with Harold Jones on drums, Marshall Wood on bass and Gray Sargent on guitar. His set included a broad array of classics, including Gershwin’s “I Got Rhythm,” Jerome Kern’s “The Way You Look Tonight,” Johnny Mandel’s “The Shadow of Your Smile” and, of course, his signature “I Left My Heart in San Francisco,” which earned a standing ovation.

Front of house was mixed by Parnelli Award winner Tom Young, who has served with Tony Bennett for two dozen years, after an 12-year stint with Frank Sinatra. Young was awarded an engineering Grammy in 2002 for Tony Bennett’s Playing With My Friends release, and he has consulted on numerous system designs, including the redesign of the system at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. The rider for the Bennett tour does not insist on a particular line array. L-Acoustics, Meyer Sound, d&b audiotechnik and JBL are Young’s preferred choices, yet he was intrigued to hear what the Bose system could do. “The system was perfectly designed for that room,” said Young of the ShowMatch array, “I’ve done all the theaters in the round, and sound spill from behind the cabinets was minimal, which is usually problematic.” In regard to the qualitative performance of the system, Young was pleased, stating, “I especially noted when mixing, the response of the system in the low end — when my bass player was using his bow — was impressive and tonally responsive.”

For the Celebrity Theater, the Bose ShowMatch DeltaQ system was chosen for the critical task of shaping energy dispersion to avoid the potential difficulties inherent to the space, while delivering quality audio that has pleased visiting front of house engineers, venue management and audiences. (For more details, see sidebar, below.)

A total of 32 Bose PowerMatch 8500N amplifiers drive the system.

Bose ShowMatch DeltaQ System: A Closer Look

Bose is a well-known name in the domain of consumer audio, and in recent years, its professional division has significantly enhanced its impact in concert sound reinforcement as well. The Bose Professional ShowMatch DeltaQ system is not the company’s first foray into pro live sound, but has been well received in the few years since its debut.

The latest of its products offering variable directivity for each array module, the ShowMatch DeltaQ system debuted in late 2016. The line consists of four enclosures — an 18-inch subwoofer and three full-range modules offering vertical coverage of five, 10 and 20 degrees, respectively. The modules can be configured into DeltaQ arrays, constant curvature or traditional “J-array” arrangements, creating a high degree of flexibility.

The capacity to avoid directing energy into walls and ceilings was a key focus for Bose designers, and the line offers several options to help keep energy focused on the audience. Interchangeable waveguides facilitate several options in terms of horizontal coverage. Specifically, the SM5 module normally ships with a 70-degree waveguide, but 55 and 100-degree waveguides can be deployed as well. Similarly, the SM10 enclosure normally exhibits 100 degrees of horizontal dispersion, but a 70-degree waveguide is also offered. Finally, the SM20 box also normally disperses over 100 degrees horizontally, with 70- or 120-degree waveguides. Different waveguides can be deployed within a single line array to accomplish asymmetrical dispersion, a welcome capability.

The SM5, SM10 and SM20 modules feature dual 8-inch neodymium LF drivers and four extended-HF neodymium compression drivers. A single-18 SMS118 sub is also offered. These Baltic birch enclosures are finished in black polyurethane, with 16-gauge steel grills in black powder-coat. The bi-amped, full range modules have a stated 70 Hz to 17k Hz frequency response, with the sub taking LF response down to 32 Hz. Enclosure weight is 67.5 pounds for the SM5; 65.5 pounds for the SM10; 64 pounds for the SM20 and 135.6 pounds for the SMS118.

For more information, visit Bose at http://pro.bose.com.

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