Works in progress
Works in progress
A working community theatre in New Zealand’s Bay of Plenty has become the first venue in the country to install a Yamaha Rivage PM5 system, reports Richard Lawn
Located in the heart of Tauranga, the Baycourt Community and Arts Centre has entertained and inspired audiences ranging from school children to opera fanatics since 1983. The venue’s technical manager Dale Henderson has been an almost constant fixture at the venue since commencing his career as a technician there three years after its inauguration. In addition to showcasing a diverse range of local, national and international talent at the main Addison Theatre, Henderson has also made it his duty to oversee advances in AV and lighting technology.
Having mixed the audio for Les Misérables in 1995 on two consoles, one being a Yamaha ProMix 01 console using 16 wireless mic channels, Henderson has become increasingly drawn to the Japanese brand. Over the next two decades, Baycourt upgraded the ProMix 01 programmable mixer with higher specification Yamaha digital consoles including the 01V-96, the M7CL-48 and the M7CL48-ES. Last year, Henderson recommended that the Yamaha M7CL should be replaced as it had exceeded the end of its projected life cycle, having served the theatre for 13 years.
Most touring acts that perform at the 588-seat Addison Theatre provide their own operators, so Henderson generally mixes for the local operatic society or for schools in the neighbourhood. “We had two M7CLs at FOH position for mixing the operatic society and the larger musicals,” explains Henderson. “One M7CL handled the 30-plus channels of wireless microphones and the other received direct mic inputs from the band or orchestra onstage. I’ve operated a number of consoles over my career but, in terms of reliability, ease of use and intuitive features, I’m drawn to Yamaha.”
The recently launched Yamaha Rivage PM5 was one of four new consoles selected for the procurement process on behalf of Tauranga Council’s appointed RFP (Request for Proposals) committee. In addition to Henderson, the panel was made up of technical operations coordinator Jordan Bailey and external consultant and systems engineer Bjarne Hemmingson, who had returned to New Zealand from the US during the pandemic. All three took part in a blind score assessment, independently marking weighted attributes for criteria including the number of faders, screens and layout, with the PM5 receiving the highest score. “The 12-fader configuration over three bays is ideal for our needs,” Henderson continues. “One PM5 is more than enough to fulfil both mixing requirements simultaneously, ensuring that we only need one operator. The reduced depth of the surface brings the controls within easy reach, although I can also make fine adjustments on dynamic meters located beside each fader. The three 15-inch capacitive touchscreen displays that offer a condensed selected channel section is extremely intuitive.”
Fitted with an HY144-D digital I/O card, the Rivage PM5 offers direct compatibility with Yamaha’s TWINLANe and Audinate’s Dante protocols over Gigabit Ethernet connections. “Plugging in copper terminations was very time-consuming and laboursome,” says Henderson. “With the PM5 setup, I can position the Rio 3224 rack close to the mic inputs before connecting one Cat6 cable to the console for full network system monitoring and management. In addition, the integration of our existing Shure ULX-D wireless mic system into the Yamaha GUI is proving to be a real bonus. From one of the console’s touchscreens, I can detect connected wireless transmitters and receivers, map each system to the desired input channel and monitor parameters such as battery status, RF and audio signal level.”
Supplied by Yamaha Pro Audio distributor MusicWorks, the Yamaha Rivage PM5 system was installed by Auckland-based Intec Systems, which specialises in the design and installation of audio, lighting and video systems. The ecosystem combines a CS-R5 control surface, a DSP-RX signal processing engine and three Rio I/O racks. In addition to ordering the first PM5 Rivage system in the country, Baycourt also took delivery of a small format QL1 digital control surface for smaller dance school performances. “After any major performance, we store the PM5 in a flightcase to save on wear and tear, so the QL1 should provide added longevity for the PM5,” Henderson explains.
The theatre’s loudspeaker system was renewed in 2018 with an Adamson IS Series line array selected following the RFP committee’s subjective assessment. “The brief stipulated a number of criteria, such as suitability for both musical theatre and touring bands, clarity, warmth and even coverage throughout the entire venue,” recalls Intec Systems’ Mike Hughes. “From our previous experience with Adamson and the IS-Series products, we knew those criteria would be met and exceeded.”
Intec Systems utilised Adamson’s Blueprint AV simulation software during the design process. “The tender requested EASE simulations, but Blueprint is an excellent tool for adjusting angles and monitoring results,” continues Hughes. Adamson distributor Direct Imports supplied the system consisting of eight IS7 cabinets and two IS118 subwoofers flown on each side, with two more IS118 subwoofers groundstacked under each array.
Ensuring clear sightlines to all seats, the IS7 arrays are flown outside the theatre’s proscenium arch, allowing the rotatable wing panels to work without obstruction. “The audio is smooth and pristine throughout the entire venue, without the peaks and differences in tone we’d experienced previously,” added Henderson. “It’s a pleasure having a system that provides sufficient bass throughout the theatre, without disrupting the adjacent performance and public spaces.”
Dual D 80:4L and single D 20:4L Lab Gruppen amplifiers power the system, with digital signal parameters set within the Lake processing software. “We prefer not to use IEMs, so we deploy up to eight EM Acoustics M-C12 passive speakers as wedge monitors onstage for the performers,” he continues.
Henderson has also finished an upgrade of the theatre’s moving lighting rig, adding some Ayrton Eurus fixtures, the first multi-function profile luminaire launched under the manufacturer’s new Slim-21 programme for miniaturising fixtures and reducing their weight.
Bringing the Yamaha story at Baycourt Community and Arts Centre full circle, the Rivage PM5 system was due to debut on another production of Les Misérables that should have opened in January. Inevitably, the season was cancelled just before opening night – yet another casualty of the pandemic. However, operator Gareth Wallis was able to try it out during the two-week rehearsal period. “The Rivage PM5 was a joy to use and made operating such a complex show seamless,” he reflects. “I particularly appreciated the ability to have backup radio mics routed in live at the push of a single button, and multiple EQ presets on each channel was an absolutely time saver.”
Now due to make a debut at the National Jazz Festival Tauranga in June, followed by We Will Rock You in September, Baycourt’s new Yamaha Rivage PM5 system will finally be able to have its moment in the spotlight.