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Symetrix DSPs bring reliability to shape-shifting theatre

As part of the latest renovation of the Altria Theater in Richmond, Virginia, a new sound system based on four Symetrix Edge DSP units has been installed, with additional outputs supplied by two Symetrix xOut Dante-enabled analogue expanders.

Dating back to 1927 the venue was originally called The Mosque, before receiving a $5m makeover in 1994 and a name change to The Landmark. This most recent upgrade was part of a more extensive $50m project. The Altria Theater is the largest performing arts theatre between Atlanta and New York, with a seating capacity of 3,565. The Altria also offers an 18,000sqft ballroom that holds 1,100 people and seats 600.

The sound system was designed by Jaffe Holden in collaboration with the Richmond branch of global venue managers SMG, and installed by Professional Audio Designs of Wauwatosa, WI. “I’ve been using Symetrix products for more than eight years,” said SMG systems engineer Hayden Nebus. “I have 19 Symetrix DSPs right now. They sound phenomenal but the biggest factor for me is reliability.”

Nebus continued: “You get a first order and a second order all-pass filter, and the second-order filter has a variable Q. I can take a Smaart measurement, pull it into my FIR co-efficient calculator, and import my FIR filter straight into the Symetrix DSP. Programming with Symetrix’ Composer software is more straightforward than any other open architecture DSP. And the value can’t be beat: Symetrix Radius and Edge DSPs are great values, and the Prysm provides amazing DSP horsepower per dollar.”

The Edge processors control a d&b Audiotechnik sound system with a dozen full-range V-series cabinets and two flown subwoofers per side, plus a centre hang of 10 V-series cabinets and two subwoofers. The system includes front fills and up fills, and the balconies are handled by a mix of delay speakers, divided into three rings: one for the orchestra level, one for the first balcony area beneath the second balcony, and an over-balcony ring.

A Symetrix ARC system is provided for control. “It’s modular and expandable and you can make it do whatever you want,” stated Nebus. “It gives you concise, simple, idiot-proof user controls for house managers and stage managers.”

Nebus added: “My favourite part of that Symetrix rig, other than how gorgeous it sounds, is the ‘virtual babysitter’ I built into the processing. On all main PA outputs, I have threshold detectors and counters. Every time the output reaches -0.5 dBFS, the counter ticks. There’s a control screen with all the PA output meters, and each has a counter box above it that displays the corresponding threshold count. The counters get reset regularly, so I can tell you how many times you’ve clipped the rig, or come within 0.5dB of clipping, since soundcheck began, and when it last happened.”