With the scarcity of land in southern California, the Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District (PYLUSD) was thrilled to meet its need for a new high school by acquiring the satellite campus of the local community college. The crown jewel of the property was a 314-seat performing arts center known as The Forum.
“It’s a beautiful theater with a traditional proscenium and two small side stages that give it great flexibility. It has a long history of events staged by community groups, including small music festivals and theater productions,” notes Steve Holt, senior design manager for the school district. “But, when we acquired it…there was very little infrastructure. We felt it was important to develop its full potential as an asset for the entire school district and the community.”
The challenge was a big one. “Before this modernization, we had an old sound board and speakers,” notes Phil Mortensen, Visual & Performing Arts Coordinator for the school district. “We had no wireless, no comm system. We wanted the versatility to do a wide range of productions, including jazz, orchestral, choral, and theatrical, without using rental equipment.”
With a limited budget and short lead time, the school district engaged Time & Alarm Systems, a full-service integrator specializing in the education market based in nearby Mira Loma. “We’ve done a lot of work for the school district over the years, but nothing like this,” notes Keith Senn, the firm’s president. “With only six weeks before the first performance, it was critical to work with manufacturers that could give us the functionality and performance the venue needed, with absolute assurance of on-time, in-budget delivery. For wired mics and wireless systems, that meant Shure, without a doubt.”
Having conferred with Phil Mortensen on the range of applications to be accommodated, Keith Senn consulted with Shure to create a microphone package with the quality and versatility desired. “In addition to basic theater miking, we wanted to enhance solos during student music performances,” states Mortensen. “So we asked for application-specific mics to use on instruments like sax, trumpet and trombone, even piano. The Shure microphone package that Time and Alarm suggested meets all our needs and more. It’s a huge step up for us.”
Choral and theatrical productions are equally served by four MX202 choir mics, which are suspended from the ceiling. Similarly, a set of three MX393 cardioid boundary mics can cover acoustic jazz and theater, providing excellent coverage for the theater’s two small side stages. To cover a wide range of musical instruments, condenser microphones including the Beta 181 side-address mic and the end-firing KSM137 were specified. Finally, a set of classic SM58® and SM57 mics were brought in for their ability to step in wherever a specialty mic was not required.
To achieve professional results without breaking the budget, Time & Alarm specified six Shure ULX®-P wireless systems, each with handheld and bodypack transmitters for flexibility of use. The six half-rack receivers are housed in the control room at the back of the hall, along with two UA844 wideband antenna combiners fed from a pair of UA870 active directional antennas hung from the ceiling, stage left and stage right.
“Shure wireless has been absolutely flawless,” reports Mortensen. “There have been no interference issues, no dropouts, and the sound quality is top notch.” “It gives us the pro performance to meet the needs of visiting artists, and the ease of operation that’s so critical to have in a high school setting. Needless to say, we’re thrilled to have them.”
Project manager Steve Holt is similarly pleased with the project’s outcome. “This is a very flexible space that’s considered an asset for the entire community, not just the high school,” he notes. “In addition to our own music and drama programs, it’s used by theater companies in the summer, for elementary school graduations, and for small music festivals. To meet all those needs with just six weeks for planning, design, and installation, while staying within a fairly modest budget, is a real tribute to Keith Senn and his team at Time & Alarm Systems.”
Looking back on the experience, Senn credits his design team and the vendors they selected for the project’s success. “It was critical to select products that offer proven performance at reasonable prices,” he notes. “We knew that Shure wired mics and wireless systems would cover a wider range of theater and musical applications than any alternative. As a result, we were able to give Yorba Linda High School the performing arts center it envisioned.”