Kiva II Upstages Opposition
Riverlinks Theatre in Shepparton beds in its new L-Acoustics Kiva II PA after fierce shoot out.
Text:/ Christopher Holder
It was 1983 and I was lead pirate in my primary school play. Three swashbuckling sold-out nights at the Shepparton Civic Centre. Phew. (I peaked early.)
Standing on the same stage 38 years later… and, okay, the theatre looks smaller but instantly recognisable.
It’s now the ‘Riverlinks Theatre’. There’s retractable tiered seating for a seating capacity of some 830 with the balcony in play, or 450 banquet style.
I don’t recall a public address system back in 1983, certainly no one miked me up for my rousing sea shanties. In the early 2000s the theatre had a Renkus-Heinz Reflex LCR system installed. It was of its time, but no one had too many good words to say about the design — patchy.
By the mid 2010s the Riverlinks Theatre Technical Manager, Matt Schroeders, knew the PA was letting the venue down. It was becoming a liability. He submitted a proposal for a new loudspeaker system to Greater Shepparton Council which owns and runs the theatre.
The request was rejected. The next year it was rejected again. Then rejected again. All without any rationale… just ‘no’.
Then after a VAPAC conference one year, Matt, had a chat to another regional theatre staffer who’d recently been through a similar experience.
The advice: “Send a full proposal to council. Fully cost it. Outline the benefits.”
Sure enough, the fresh approach instantly bore fruit and the new PA made it into the council budget.
As it turned out, an extended global pandemic is not such a bad time to go through the long and arduous process of buying and installing a new PA.
Matt Schroeders and his right hand man, Technical Co-ordinator, Peter O’Keefe, were determined to do it right and do it by the book.
They received a number of expressions of interest which they whittled down to three tenders that were invited to demo a system — each given a day.
Each hung one array, ground stacked the subs and were given the opportunity to demonstrate their system in flat floor and tiered seating modes. Technical Co-ordinator, Peter O’Keefe recalls the process:
“There were four people on the tender panel: Matt and myself as the people who have the technical chops to know which system best matches the space; the venue manager, who has some technical knowledge; and then we had someone from our procurement department — an independent umpire, as it were, making sure we were following the rules.
“Initially the task was to explain why the cheapest option wasn’t immediately the preferred option. We wrote a lengthy report after the shoot out. Part of the task was to explain in layman’s terms what the measurements might mean in the real world. One system may have achieved 108dB and the other 110dB. The 108dB system is a lot cheaper so ‘why are we spending all this extra money on 2dB?’ It was useful experience. I actually found a very handy analogy while searching on the internet. Imagine the audio that covers a seat in the theatre represented by a number of pins dropping from the ceiling to that seat. With three additional decibels the number of pins covering that seat doubles. It’s something we as audio people instinctively know but it’s a very handy illustration for those who don’t.”
SMALL FORMAT NO LIGHT WEIGHT
Light & Sound Solutions won the shootout with an L-Acoustics Kiva II system.
Daniel Thomas, Light & Sound Director, picks up the story: “For a tender such as Riverlinks’ we’ll be given a minimum and a maximum SPL requirement for each seat. There might be certain frequency response guidelines as well. Then the system you put forward will often be dictated by the weight limitation.”
This is where L-Acoustics Kiva II comes into its own.
“Rather than recommending a system based on large enclosures you may need to rely on a smaller speaker with more elements.
“We can put in a Kiva II array with six or more boxes and two or three subs and be well under 250kg. That’s really not a lot of weight. If you use a more conventional enclosure, you blow out your weight restrictions really quickly.”
FULL RANGE, ALL VOLUMES
After some exhaustive tests and evaluations, the L-Acoustics Kiva II system won the day. Peter O’Keefe explains some of the rationale:
“We felt the Kiva II system ticked every box without trying. It wasn’t being pushed beyond its limits; it wasn’t being shoehorned to make it work. Kiva II is designed for our kind of venue.
“The other winning aspect of Kiva II was just how good it sounds at any level. Other systems arguably sounded just as good when cranked up, but Kiva II really shone at low volumes — retaining a beautiful full-range clarity.”
The Riverlinks audio design sees eight L-Acoustics Kiva II enclosures a side, along with three flown SB15m subs in cardioid mode.
Underneath the stage are a pair of KS21 subs with X8 front fill. The 21-inch subs weren’t part of the original tender but Matt and Pete fell in love with them and were able to find budget after the fact.
“Light & Sound wanted to bring the 21-inch subs to the shoot out,” recalls Peter O’Keefe. “We confirmed that it wasn’t in the brief or the budget but they were more than welcome to show us, knowing that they wouldn’t be used in the actual shootout.”
Having the extra octave provided by the KS21 subs encouraged Riverlinks to upgrade the stage infrastructure — a builder came in to provide extra bracing and ensure the subs didn’t resonate the whole stage.
Kiva II ticked every box without trying. It wasn’t being pushed beyond its limits; it wasn’t being shoehorned to make it work
The key complication to the system install was to match it to the three main room modes: tiered seating, flat floor, and flat floor+balcony. Thankfully, the L-Acoustics LA4X amplified controller handles configuration management with ease — with no need to rehang or adjust the trim of the PA. That said, the PA is on hoists, and can be brought down in the event of a touring client wanting to use their PA, or if an element needs to be serviced.
Q-Sys takes care of the control aspects. Q-Sys touch panels provide preset control for the venue operator. Aspects of the audio distribution is handled via Dante. The Yamaha CL mixing console natively plumbs into the Q-Sys 110f Core via Dante.
Riverlinks’ tech staff certainly have a spring in their step. There’s no doubt having the best PA in town is good for morale! The theatre, in classic country town style, is a true all-rounder (“a pole dancing contest on Friday, a Lions Club banquet on Saturday, and a Mormon’s conference on Sunday,” was one particularly diverse weekend that Peter O’Keefe recalled), and the PA needs to be just as versatile.
The even coverage — both tonally and level — has been a revelation, not just to Matt and Peter, but to audiences who have suffered from patchy coverage and uneven tonal response. Coming out of Covid, there’s plenty of appetite for getting back on the horse and mixing live shows. ‘Bring it on!’, you might say.
Riverlinks Theatre L-Acoustics System Spec
8 Kiva II per side
3 SB15m subs per side
2 KS21 subs under the stage
4 X8 front fill
LA4X Amplified Controller