Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts

Audio System Shines Without Being Seen
Beverly Hills, California

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The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts (known as The Wallis) has opened in Beverly Hills with audio-visual design and installation from Electrosonic for its public spaces and theaters. Designed by SPF:architects, The Wallis houses two performance spaces: the blackbox-style Lovelace Studio Theater, which has been re-imagined in the historic 1933 Italianate Beverly Hills Post Office, and the main stage Bram Goldsmith Theater. An education wing marks the Center’s commitment to bringing theater to young people.

The Wallis

Electrosonic’s Design Consulting team first came on board with the project in 2008 and provided design services for both theaters and their supporting dressing rooms, green room, workshops and control rooms.

The 500-seat Bram Goldsmith Theater has a traditional proscenium stage and full fly system, and features a top-of-the-line audio system to be used for theater, dance and music. The audio system allows speakers to be hidden in recesses and architecturally integrated within the space. The smaller size of the speakers worked to the system’s advantage from an integration point of view, providing a subtle warmth that’s ideal for a theatrical environment.

The Wallis

The main cluster of speakers flies out on a motorized winch, which disappears completely above the ceiling reflector when not being used. An orchestra shell can be put in place for orchestral performances. Two speakers flank the proscenium; fourteen speakers are recessed into the side walls for surround sound and fill. Four speakers provide surround sound for the upper balcony and the system low end is reinforced by four subwoofers.

The Wallis

“The audio system is probably the best we could have installed,” says Electrosonic project manager Dan Laspa. “This new speaker line is small and perfect for the space. The performers who appeared at the opening gala commented on how good the system sounded.”

The blackbox-style Lovelace Studio Theater is a multi-purpose, flexible performance space with retractable seating for 150. It will host public performances and children’s programming, and serve as the heart of the theater school for young people. A control booth has a small digital mixer console and AV connector panels are found in the lighting grid and on the side walls.

Electrosonic also designed AV signal distribution for the two theaters, including a custom 96-way microphone channel splitter to permit the greatest flexibility in configuring productions. Digital audio and video tie lines connect the Bram Goldsmith Theater and Lovelace Studio Theater.

A portable digital mixing desk popular among theatrical professionals was chosen to serve both theaters for its immediately familiar ease of use. Electrosonic also furnished wired and wireless intercom systems and a DSP system for the entire Center with ceiling-mounted speakers in the lobby, back of house, dressing rooms, all tech rooms and shops.

All photos: John Linden