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Renkus-Heinz tops Chicago’s Union League Club

A Renkus-Heinz audio solution has been installed at Chicago's Union League Club to deal with the room's challenging acoustics.

To meet continued evolution from its beginnings around the time of the American Civil War, the Union League Club, Chicago – one of a chain of establishments dotted around the US – has undergone installation of a multi-faceted audio system based on the Renkus-Heinz CFX81 complex conic loudspeakers

The building’s Main Hall plays host to events ranging from formal dinners to addresses by heads of state and other national and international dignitaries. It’s an exquisitely appointed room with high ceilings and massive mahogany beams and columns.

Illinois-based Sound Planning Associates was enlisted to design a system capable of achieving uniform coverage everywhere in the acoustically challenging room.

“The columns are literally around 4- or 5ft square, and their size does make it a challenge to achieve uniform coverage everywhere in the room,” commented David Hecht, managing principal at Sound Planning Associates. “In addition, the room is used for a range of different events, and the stage and seating setup can vary from one event to another. Inevitably someone will end up sitting behind a column.”

To meet the challenge, Sound Planning Associates designed a system based around 28 Renkus-Heinz CFX81 8in two-way complex conic loudspeakers. The system offers several different matrixing options. “It’s essentially three systems,” continued Hecht. “Depending on where the stage is set up, the speakers fire from that direction, and the others are delayed across the room. So different groups of speakers are set up to work together, depending on the event.”

DSP is provided by a BIamp Audia with RED-1 controller. “The Biamp DSP enables us to reconfigure the system for a variety of scenarios, depending on the event,” said Hecht. “They can just select a ‘stage setting’ – north, south, east, west – from the RED-1 touch screen, and it sets up the speaker delays and EQ, selects the correct mic inputs, sets input levels for the wireless mics, everything. It’s a very easy system to use.”

Elsewhere, a Yamaha LS9 console with wireless iPad control handles mixing duties, with Shure ULX wireless systems for the presenters.

Aesthetics played a prominent role in specifying the system, Hecht elaborated: “That was one of the main reasons we chose the CFX Series – they offered great pattern control and they don’t have a ‘hot spot,’ so coverage is nice and even across the entire space.” The speakers were custom painted to match the beams, and all wiring is concealed.

“This is a very distinguished club, catering to clientele accustomed to the best,” he finished. “They wanted to know that they were getting the best. And they have been very, very pleased with the system. It sounds great, it looks great, and it does exactly what they needed it to do.”