Lied Center to get new state-of-the-art sound system

A new state-of-the-art sound system is being installed at the Lied Center for Performing Arts.
A new state-of-the-art sound system is being installed at the Lied Center for Performing Arts.

Technology advancements are helping amp up the sound system in the Lied Center for Performing Arts.

"The center is launching a revitalization effort to ensure the Lied Center continues to be one of the finest performing arts centers in the United States," said Bill Stephan, Lied Center executive director. "Over the past 20 years there have been major improvements in audio technology. As a venue that takes pride in hosting the greatest artists in the world, the Lied strives to maintain a ‘like new’ facility condition and provide state-of-the art theater equipment for the benefit of both artists and audiences,” he said.

“Thanks to the generous support of many individuals and organizations, we have the funds to complete phase one of the Lied Center’s Sound System enhancement,” Stephan said. “Performances that require audio amplification will rise to a new level of excellence.”

Updates to the sound system have begun and installation of phase one of the new audio equipment is expected to be completed before the end of March.

Consistently praised for its acoustic design, the Lied Center’s Main Hall was designed to model the acoustic qualities of a cathedral. This created a performance hall ideally suited for symphony orchestras, choral ensembles, opera and most types of acoustic music performances that utilize natural sound, said Dan Stratman, Lied Center Director of Production and Facilities.

“The Lied is an amazing building that was created with phenomenal acoustics,” he said. “While the Lied Center will always be the ideal venue for acoustic performances, updating the sound equipment was identified as essential for the Lied to continue to be the ideal venue for performances that require amplified sound such as popular concerts, theatrical presentations and lectures.”

An acoustic study of the Lied was conducted by Threshold Acoustics, a Chicago-based firm, which has worked on performance halls across the world from the Royal Festival Hall in London, England to the Peter Kiewit Concert Hall at the Holland Center in Omaha. Several improvements to the Lied Center acoustics were identified in the study including replacement of its 20-year-old sound system. This replacement will involve two phases of enhancement to create the ideal acoustic atmosphere for all programming.

Phase One of the Lied’s audio enhancement features the new state-of-the-art d&b Audiotechnik sound system. It will be a substantial upgrade to the facility and enhance the audio quality of nearly any event, Stratman said.

This distributive sound system has significantly more speakers than other designs and will send amplified sounds directly to the seats without bouncing off the hall walls, thereby avoiding distortion. Most noticeable for Lied Center patrons will be two new line arrays, consisting of six speakers each, hanging from the proscenium. These arrays will direct sound to a large area of seats on the main floor and will be supplemented by two smaller arrays, consisting of three speakers each, located above the canopy.

Speakers will also be added under the balcony, on the stage itself, and on the sides of the balcony with subwoofers also added on the stage.

“These new speakers are specially designed to reach certain areas in the hall that are harder to fill with sound, and the all-digital system will automatically control for delays and equalization to ensure amplified sounds reach the listener at the same time while minimizing echo,” Stratman said.

“The coverage of the new system will be very even in all parts of the hall. Listening to an amplified performance from a seat at the back of the main floor or the side of the balcony should be just as good as anywhere in the house.”

As the Lied Center looks forward to its spring lineup of performances, the new audio system will be able to seamlessly accommodate everything from the comedic spoken word of Second City: “Laugh out Loud” to the Motown vocals of Boyz II Men.

“The Lied Center strives to provide a superior venue experience for our patrons at every performance. Installation of a custom sound system will elevate the sound quality of amplified performances, lectures, and other events to a new level.”

Phase Two of the audio system enhancement and other revitalization projects will be announced in the future, Stephan said.

— Matthew Boring, Lied Center for Performing Arts