Salt Lake City’s MARC Theatre recently installed a Martin Audio WPC system for the annual Sundance Film Festival.
In 2012, the theatre underwent a major renovation that converted it from an indoor sports facility at the Park City Municipal Athletic and Recreation Center to a 564-seat movie theatre. A long-term member of the technical crew at Sundance, Dan Beedy took over as technical project manager in 2013, and in the last three years has focused on upgrading the event’s audio reproduction capabilities, resulting in the installation of a Martin Audio WPC scalable resolution line array, as the centrepiece of a 7.1 system.
“We realised that the sound systems hadn’t seen an upgrade since the 90’s,” he said. Although some had received Dolby Atmos fit-outs, the MARC, which hosts many prominent festival premieres, had been neglected. “Sundance has always had a focus on presenting their films to a high standard so we needed to find partners to help bring the audio up to spec,” he reports. Enter Production Project Manager, Ben VanDonkelaar, senior audio engineer at BlueWater Technologies, and Martin Audio’s North-eastern Regional Sales Manager Martha Callaghan, who set about designing and specifying a system.
Beedy and VanDonkelaar had long worked closely together (on the Traverse City Film Festival). “When Sundance was looking for a new partner I suggested they look at Bluewater, and specifically Ben,” Beedy continued. “We have a great short hand together about how venues are set up and what the goals are. While Ben’s team were in charge of flying the rig my team were in charge of tuning it.”
The 7.1 system comprises Left/Centre/Right/Left Surround/Right Surround/Left Rear/Right Rear plus the subs. “We used hangs of six WPC for the Left/Centre/Right channels and each of those arrays also had an SXH218 for low frequency extension,” he explained. A separate SXH218 provided the dedicated subwoofer and a further 12 CDD-Live 12’s were used for Left/Right and Left Rear/Right Rear surrounds.
The WPC hangs were optimised in two-box resolution and powered from two touring racks of three iKON iK42 multichannel amplifiers. According to Martin Audio product support engineer, Joe Lima, “this required eight continuous hours of pink noise and individual multi-band PEQ tuning on every pair of elements to meet the Dolby standard curve and SPL coverage. Quite an adventure I must say”.
Beedy added: “I’ve used Martin Audio products for a number of live cinema premieres. Cinema products aren’t designed to meet the more exacting specs of a premiere room. Typical cinemas are ±10dB front to back, but we shoot for ± 1dB front to back in a room, as we’d like every seat to have a similar audio experience when we are designing for premieres. Cinema products aren’t designed to meet that kind of specification so we turn to live event audio products.”
In addition to VanDonkelaar, support was available from Lima, who provided tuning support, while Simon Purse from the UK office assisted in the design. “We actually pushed what the speakers were capable of and needed help to unlock some of the software to accomplish that,” Beedy reveals. “Overall, the Martin Audio system exceeded the expectations of the festival.”