The Pageant Gets a Sound Upgrade

by Kevin M. Mitchell • in
  • Installations
  • June 2018
• Created: June 6, 2018

St. Louis Venue Spotlights the Latest Audio Technology

When it opened in 2000, Chuck Berry played there. Arena acts that don’t always like playing arenas play here (Foo Fighters, Sting). An up and coming punk-inspired bluegrass band fills up the 2,300 seat venue, as does local Grateful Dead tribute band Jake’s Leg. So do rappers, and increasingly, EDM artists. So when it was time to get a new sound system, the choice was actually pretty easy for the Pageant make. They had just installed a similar — albeit slightly smaller — system at the sister venue, Delmar Hall, a few blocks away. A Vue Audiotechnik system went into there, so that’s where the search for a new P.A. began.

The exterior of The Pageant was designed to resemble a vintage movie palace

‡‡         Room with a Vue

Pageant FOH and senior audio engineer Randy Noldge was looking to get off the road after years of touring in the early aughts when he heard that a new concert venue was being built in a popular, hip part of St. Louis near Washington University. He grew up in the area, so he was immediately interested in the new venue — especially as one of the co-owners was an old friend, Pat Hagin. When he heard Hagin was opening this place with Joe Edwards, one of the town’s most admired entrepreneurs and supporter of live music, Noldge says the decision to get involved was “a slam dunk.”

FOH engineer Randy Noldge and monitor engineer Josh Limpert

“The last time [the Pageant] updated the audio was in 2002, and that’s when we put in the E-V XLC rig,” Noldge says. “We were one of the early adopters of that, and it worked well for us. It was a workhorse system — not the most hi-fi, not the loudest, but it got us down the road.” In 2016, Edwards and Hagin opened up Delmar Hall, a 750-capacity venue a few blocks away. “We auditioned eight or nine systems for Delmar, and the predictability of the Vue system, the ease to set up, the coverage, the sound quality, and of course the costs, all had us concluding that it was the right system for that new hall. It’s a lot of bang for your buck.” After they installed the Vue al-8 / al-4 combo array there, “we were convinced more than ever that The Pageant had to be next.” A few months later, Vue released its full-sized al-12 array, and as they had such a positive experience at Delmar Hall, it was a natural choice.

The new main P.A. features Vue Audiotechnik’s new al-12 line array cabinets.

Noldge reflects on the history of bands playing the place: “In 2000, 15 to 20 percent of touring bands playing venues this size carried their own system.” But that was back when gas was 99 cents, and what followed was higher travel prices,
and they went through a period where no one carried a PA. “Now even when a band shows up with a full system, they tend to leave it on the truck in favor of the house system — the exception being EDM artists.” Now with the new system, they expect the majority of those in that genre to use it.

The Pageant plays host to a wide variety of artists.

‡‡         Wide and Shallow

The Pageant is a wide and shallow room, with about 165-degrees of visibility around the stage, and a balcony at the back with additional standing room underneath. Vue’s design team modeled the system using EASE Focus, and within a few hours after arrival, dual 12-element al-12 arrays were flown. “The system went up really fast, and coverage was good with virtually no tweaking required,” Noldge says. Also appreciated was the al-12’s simple, straightforward rigging system and the tight integration between the boxes and the VueDrive processors. “It sounded simply amazing, right out of the box. Tons of headroom and near limitless SPL on tap. The more I pushed it, the more I expected it to break up, but it never did. I can give this system all the gas I want, and it never falls short.”

Vue’s V6 Systems Engines provide amplification and DSP processing

For the permanent system, Noldge employed for a few minor alterations. The final design takes full advantage of Vue’s CST (Continuous Source Topology), which allows different al-Class elements to be combined for optimal coverage without the sonic disruptions associated with conventional mixed element arrays. The left and right hybrid arrays each consist of ten al-12 elements, with two al-8 enclosures added for nearfield coverage. The configuration ensures consistent and uninterrupted delivery of Vue’s beryllium voice, nearfield coverage across the full width of the stage, and improved sightlines, thanks to the smaller elements occupying the lower portion of the main arrays.

“We originally had 12 al-12 elements per side, but the CST technology freed us to get creative,” Noldge says. “By incorporating a couple al-8 elements into the bottom of each array, we successfully tackled a long-standing coverage challenge at the front of a very wide room. The two arrays are literally 50 feet apart, but with the al-12 and al-8 elements working together, we have a complete left-to-right nearfield soundstage. Some people love [the room], because having the speakers that far apart gives almost a recording studio sound; some don’t care for it because in some cases, you can hear music coming off the stage.”

Rounding out the rest of the system, Noldge added six Vue a-12 full range systems as supplemental fills for the far left and right of the low headroom under-balcony area. Vue a-8 two-way systems provide support for the VIP boxes. A total of 11 VueDrive V6 Series Systems Engines deliver all power and processing for the arrays.

The main deck of the stage is a roomy 30 x 40 feet

‡‡         Crystal Ball

Currently, there are no plans to replace the Midas H1000 desk FOH or the Midas PRO2 that’s in monitor world. “Today, 95 percent of bands bring their own desk, but otherwise these are still working great for us when we need them.” For now, the Radian wedges are still in place, but those two will eventually be switched out.

For low-frequency support, the EV subwoofers were retained, though upgrading to the Vue h-Class ACM subwoofers is a goal. As to the new P.A. system, Noldge is enthralled. “With well over 113 dB at FOH and still no limit light, I’m constantly pulling back the Vue system to keep it from completely burying the subs. I’m really looking forward to adding the Vue subs so that we can really open up the P.A. and set it free.”

 

The Pageant Theater

Location: St. Louis, MO

Built: 2000

Capacity: 2,300

 

P.A. GEAR

Mains: (10) Vue Audiotechnik al-12 line arrays/side

Down Fill: (4) Vue Audiotechnik al-8 compact line arrays/side

Subs: (12) EV XDS subs (below the stage)

Fills: (2) Vue a-12 (balcony); (6) Vue a-12 (under-balcony); (2) EV EVU 2062/95 front fills

Amps: Vue V6 powering line arrays and fills; EV P3000RL (driving subs)

 

FOH GEAR

FOH Console: Midas Heritage 1000 (42 mono/4 stereo channels)

Outboard: Klark Teknik Helix DN 9340 digital EQ; TC Electronic D-2 Delay,

M-1 reverb; Yamaha REV7, SPX990; (4) BSS 402 comp; (8) dbx 1066 compressor/gates; (3) Aphex 612 expander/gates

Interconnect: 54-channel RamLatch split and snake

 

MON GEAR

Monitor Console: Midas Pro2

Monitors: (15) Radian Apex Neo 1500XD coaxial wedges; (2) EV QRx 212/75 sidefill tops, (3) QRx 218 (sidefill/drum subs)

Amps: QSC EX4000, MX1500 on monitors; EV P3000 on sidefills

Monitor Processing: (4) Ashly Protea 4.8SP for wedge and sidefill processing

Mics: Shure, Heil, Audix, Audio-Technica, Oktava, Rode, EV; Klark Teknik and Radial direct boxes

Wireless: Shure ULXD4Q wireless receiver, (4) Shure ULXD2 handhelds with SM58 and Heil PR35 heads.

 

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