Electro-Voice Sound System Helps Revive Roof Garden Ballroom at Iowa’s Historic Arnolds Park
David Thoreson Photos
Nestled on the shores of West Okoboji Lake in the heart of the Iowa Great Lakes resort region, Historic Arnolds Park has been a major vacation attraction in the Midwest since the 1800s. The park was renowned for its Roof Garden Ballroom, a large dance hall that attracted such artists as Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, The Guess Who, the Glenn Miller Orchestra and many others during its heyday from 1923 to 1988. Today, it operates as a non-profit attraction to benefit the community.
On August 2, the new Roof Garden Ballroom reopened as a 1200-capacity multipurpose venue, with an authentic vintage look buoyed by a thoroughly modern sound system – Electro-Voice X-Line Advance X2 line-array loudspeakers powered by Dynacord IPX series DSP amplifiers. The system enabled the park to celebrate its history with a series of concert events featuring artists who played at the original venue. Tommy James & The Shondells had the honour of headlining the first concert in the redesigned Roof Garden Ballroom.
“Tommy James played the original Roof Garden six times going back to 1966, so they were the perfect act to open the new building,” notes Jeff Vierkant, CEO of Historic Arnolds Park. “It was a packed house. They put on a fantastic show, and the sound quality was incredible.”
Designed and installed by NLFX Professional, the all-Electro-Voice loudspeaker system consists of twin eight-box X2-212 line arrays, with five 90-degree enclosures flown above three 120-degree versions. Low frequencies are supplied via six X12/128 dual-18” subwoofers. A set of four Fri-28LPM line the stage lip as front fills, ensuring full coverage in every seat.
Three Dynacord IPX20:4 DSP amplifiers drive the rig, with each capable of supplying up to 20 kW of power. These intelligent amplifiers also provide a built-in OMNEO/Dante interface for networking the system, plus FIR-Drive and additional system DSP for easy centralized control of the entire sound system. The entire system is controlled from a laptop via IRIS-Net software. Handy presets make it easy to operate the system while still affording the advanced control that touring engineers prefer.
According to John Lynch, FOH engineer for Tommy James and the Shondells, the Electro-Voice system was outstanding. “This was a really nice rig – really smooth, with tons of headroom,” he reports. “We run an old school rock ’n’ roll stage, with classic guitar amps and no in-ears. The EV system had the punch to get over that easily, yet with excellent clarity. And the subs are amazing. We were moving a lot of air – shook all the dust out of that room!”
The band’s monitor engineer, John Melasippo, had access to the venue’s new stage system, also courtesy of Electro-Voice. Available speakers include 10 Xw15A 15” floor wedges, with three Dynacord IPX10:8 DSP amps providing power along with network connectivity. One ETX-18SP powered subwoofer is also available as a drum monitor.
“We couldn’t have done this without NLFX Professional, who did a fantastic job,” notes Arnolds CEO Jeff Vierkant. “Ben Stowe really made sure we were well taken care of. He designed a system that sounds fantastic from every seat in the house. He also trained our local sound engineers on the system, and got it all installed and perfectly tuned on our short timeline. Great company.”
For Historic Arnolds Park, the re-opening of the Roof Garden with the X-Line Advance system marks the return of a classic venue that meets the needs of top-level talent to play amid the natural beauty of northwest Iowa. “From the opening number, the crowd was happy, the band was happy, and Tommy was happy,” adds John Lynch. “That’s what’s important. The sound system is a big part of that, and the EV rig helped make for a very smooth day.”