Summer Music Festival Gets SR Makeover

Sep 5, 2003 12:00 PM, Editors


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For the past 19 years, the Summer Music Festival (Harkness Memorial State Park in Waterford, Conn.) has hosted the Connecticut Orchestra, numerous area symphonies, conductors, and individual artists, such as James Taylor, Natalie Cole, Peter, Paul & Mary and many others. This year, Sennheiser and Altel Systems, a design/build company in Brewster, N.Y., joined together to revamp the festival's audio system from the ground up.

Rocco Ferraro, Sennheiser's VP of finance and administration, who serves on the music festival's board, spearheaded the effort. When the Summer Music board first met, the musical director, Paul Bunker, was excited with the season's artistic bookings, but rather chagrined about the sound system's diminished performance. The existing system was antiquated, needed repair and was inadequate to cover the lawn seating.

Just a week before the opening of the festival, Jeff Alexander, director of distributed brands at Sennheiser, and Paul Giansante, product manager for Turbosound loudspeakers, toured the venue with the crew of Altel Systems. Within a matter of days, the team unveiled a new sound system solution. The plan included a variety of Sennheiser and Neumann microphones, some 24 Turbosound loudspeakers and an InnovaSonSy40 console.

Altel VP Stefan Cattaneo, assisted by his systems engineer, Dan Fabrizi, chose the Turbosound self-powered TQ440SP and TQ308SP speakers to cover an audience of several thousand that's seated under a tent, as well as in a lawn area outside the tent. The 440s served as the main P.A. speakers and were hung left and right of the stage, with a pair of TQ425SP bass cabinets stacked underneath. The 440s were also placed on the ground at various locations outside the tent for the lawn audience, with 308s in an outer ring for delays.

"Originally, we thought about using the much larger Turbosound Floodlight speakers, but it was overkill,” said Cattaneo. “We couldn't fly anything for the lawn audience so we needed a distributed system that could provide proper level and even coverage without being visually obtrusive. The very compact 440s and 308s did the job. Both pack a lot of punch for small boxes. The 308s as delays blended nicely with the 440s. There was plenty of coverage, and their compact design helped preserve the venue's aesthetic appeal."

As for mics, the crew chose Neumann TLM 103s for bass and overhead percussion, the Neumann KM 184s for strings and the Sennheiser MD 421 for brass instruments.

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