Dallas Winspear Opera House is Alive with the Sound of Renkus-Heinz

Dallas, TX | September, 2011 - More than a quarter century in the making, Dallas' AT&T Performing Arts Center is a cultural nexus in the city's revitalized downtown arts district. The area is home to a number of different entertainment venues, from the Dallas Symphony's Meyerson Auditorium and the intimate Wyly Theatre to the Winspear Opera House and the open-air Annette Strauss Square, making it a busy hub of activity on any given evening. The 2,200-seat Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House, created by architect Foster & Partners, with theater design by Theater Projects Consultants and acoustician Sound Space Design, is home to the Dallas Opera, and an anchor in the new arts district. The Winspear's sound system, designed by Martin Van Dijk of Toronto-based Engineering Harmonics, is centered around left/right arrays of 12 Renkus-Heinz STLA/9R RHAON empowered loudspeakers that retract into the ceiling when not in use. Low frequency reinforcement is provided by four Renkus-Heinz DR18-1 subwoofers on rolling dollies.

Renkus-Heinz PowerNet PN-Series loudspeakers provide additional coverage, with eight PN82/9 systems for over-balcony fill, and two PN151/4 systems flown from the venue's soaring 60-ft high ceiling. A separate speech system was also installed, utilizing 10 Iconyx IC8-R and two IC16-R systems.

Just across the way from the Winspear, Annette Strauss Square is an outdoor performance venue that hosts concerts, theatrical and dance performances and festivals, with open-air seating for up to 2,400. As Jeff Stephens, technical supervisor for the Winspear and Strauss Square explains, the Square's relatively close proximity, not only to the other venues but also to the surrounding luxury high-rise condominiums that are home to a growing number of urban professionals, created a few challenges in system design.

"Particularly with an outdoor venue in a populated area, it's important to be good neighbors," Stephens observes. "We worked with the city to make sure the sound could be steered and focused toward the seating, and away from the other buildings as much as possible. Having a rock concert right next to a symphony hall and an opera house could be problematic, and having it outside people's homes would be even more so."

The outdoor venue's system, also designed by Martin Van Dijk, employs left and right arrays of ten STLA/9R boxes per side, along with six DR18-2 dual 18-inch subwoofers for low frequency power. A ring of SG42 two-way powered speakers acts as a delay fill. "We use the delay fill so we don't have to drive the main PA quite as hard, which helps to keep the energy off the Meyerson," says Stephens.

By all accounts, the PAC's opening season has been an unmitigated success. "Thus far we've had several concerts and a dance festival, and the Square is becoming a very popular movie screening venue as well," Stephens reports.

"We worked closely with the Opera on a performance of Don Giovanni at the Winspear, which was broadcast at Annette Strauss Square as an Opera Under the Stars event. It was a huge success, and we got lots of compliments on how great and clear the sound was. It was particularly gratifying, being outdoors and right next to a highway. The system performed beyond our expectations."