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Penn’s Peak Scales New Heights

Thomas S. Friedman • InstallationsJune 2019 • June 17, 2019

The 1,800-capacity venue now has a CODA Audio P.A. system.

To say that Penn’s Peak is a popular entertainment facility in Jim Thorpe, PA, only tells half the story. The surroundings of this mountaintop venue boast jaw-dropping vistas of nearby Beltzville Lake and a commanding 50-mile panoramic view of the Poconos. Inside this spectacular 1,800-capacity auditorium, complete with wooden balcony structures and vaulted ceiling, Penn’s Peak plays host to a wide range of national and international artists of all genres. Most recently, the production team at Penn’s Peak took the decision to install a new sound system in its auditorium. The team chose a system based around CODA Audio’s AiRAY line arrays, supplied by Pennsylvania-based Saturn Systems.

The stage right hang has 10 CODA AiRAY line array boxes. Subwoofers are located under the stage in end-fire arrays.

‡‡         Time for A Change

The existing system at the venue was undersized and underpowered for what is a large, open, acoustically challenging space. Penn’s Peak is characterized by its predominantly wooden interior, the acoustics of which alter drastically when the hall is empty at sound checks and full at show time. The areas under the balconies on either side of the hall had also presented problems. The team was aware that the experience of patrons in these areas was nowhere near to delivering a satisfying audio experience and needed significant improvement.

The overhaul was long overdue, says the venue’s audio lead, veteran sound engineer Chris Chalfin. “As well as overcoming the inherent challenges presented by the acoustics, we also needed to take into account the very wide range of artists and genres that come through the venue. We needed a system that was clean, clear and in your face — with incredible vocal intelligibility. My experience as a touring engineer of using CODA Audio on the road led me to the conclusion that it would be the perfect fit for Penn’s Peak. For a while, I’ve been convinced that CODA will be the next major player in the audio industry — so much so in fact, that I was the first owner of a CODA system in the USA. When the team at Penn’s Peak agreed we needed to upgrade, I knew it was the perfect opportunity to put the venue ahead of the audio curve.”

CODA Audio USA arranged a series of on-site demos, which confirmed to all in attendance that Chris’s confidence in the system was well placed. Coda’s technical director, Michael Creason worked closely with Chalfin and his crew to help design and optimize the system, addressing the key concerns around improving clarity and headroom, low-frequency definition and coverage.

CODA’s HOPS8 coaxial speakers are used for stage lip fill and under-balcony fills.

‡‡         The System

The compact, lightweight (88-pound) AiRAY enclosures deliver ample headroom for any application regardless of scale, effectively granting Penn’s Peak stadium levels of output. Typically, a system delivering this kind of power would be simply too big and expensive for the space, yet AiRAY made it possible.

To control the low-frequency reverberation and keep the stage area “clean,” Michael and the team decided on a splayed end-fire subwoofer configuration. That dramatically reduced interaction with the venue surfaces while reducing the deep nulls normally caused by spaced left/right sub arrays.

As all CODA elements share the same sonic signature and fidelity, the team handled the under-balcony area with CODA’s dual-8” coaxial HOPS8 speakers, ensuring that audience members in these areas shared the exact same experience of those in unobstructed seats.

Once the system was installed, the first run of shows emphatically dispelled any doubts anyone might have had about just how effectively it met the Penn’s Peak challenge. “I was confident from the outset,” Chalfin explains. The previous P.A. was not only underpowered but it felt disembodied. The CODA systems bring the show right in front of you — as if you have a pair of studio monitors sitting three feet away. The overall system works as a cohesive unit, providing extremely even coverage through the entire venue, something that had simply never been achieved before.”

The system at Penn’s Peak comprises ten AiRAY per side, eight double-18 SCP-F subs under the stage in two end-fire arrays, six HOPS8 across the front of the stage for lip fill, eight HOPS8 for under-balcony fills and two HOPS8 for VIP suite fills. The monitor system includes ten CUE TWO wedges, two APS SUBs as drum fills and L/R side fills with two APS over two APS SUBs. Powering is via CODA’s LINUS14 and LINUS10C amps.

‡‡         Reactions

While the Penn’s Peak team is satisfied that its new CODA Audio system has revolutionized the venue’s audio offering, the reaction of visiting engineers and comments by its patrons sum up its impact.

“We’ve had nothing but stellar reviews from visiting engineers, as well as from audience members who are familiar with the venue,” says Chalfin. “Many patrons go out of their way to comment on how radically the quality of the sound has improved since the system was installed. Most of the visiting crews and engineers have never heard of CODA before, and by the end of the night, they are just blown away by the system. The most common reaction we’ve heard from visiting engineers has been — ‘I’d put this system up there with the best I’ve ever mixed on.’ From my point of view, it’s gratifying to see engineers having that same ‘wow!’ experience that I enjoyed when I first heard a CODA Audio system.”

Dustin Rehrig, Penn’s Peak production manager added, “The CODA AiRAY system in our venue has been a wonderful addition. The sound quality is like no other. Our venue is not the easiest room to cover, but the clarity, warmth and thickness of the system is superb and loved by all the visiting engineers. Clearly, the best investment we’ve made for our company.”

Inside Penn’s Peak

  •  Capacity: 1,800
  • Integrator: Saturn Systems


  • Main L/R Array: (20) Coda Audio AiRAY
  • Subs: (8) Coda Audio SCP-F
  • Front Fills: (6) Coda Audio HOPS-8
  • Under-Balcony/VIP Suite: (10) Coda HOPS-8
  • FOH Amps: (7) Coda LINUS 14D, (2) LINUS 10-C


  • FOH Console: Soundcraft Vi-3000 (48 ch.)
  • Mics: Audio-Technica, Audix, Sennheiser, Shure, Telefunken
  • Wireless Systems: (3) Shure UR4D with UR2 handhelds, UR1 bodypacks, Beta 87A, Beta 58A and Beta 87C capsules


  • Monitor Console: Soundcraft Vi-3000 (48 ch.)
  • Monitors: (10) Coda CUE Two wedges
  • Side Fills: (4) Coda APS-SUBs, (4) Coda Audio APS
  • Drum Subs: (2) Coda Audio APS-SUBs
  • Monitor Amps: (4) Coda LINUS 10-C








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