Proserpine has scored a new entertainment centre thanks to the destructive work of Cyclone Debbie. A new-build highlight includes an impressive Meyer Sound LINA PA.
Text:/ Graeme Hague
Cyclones… they can be pesky things: if you’re not mindful, they can blow all your washing off the line, and even the shortest of par 3 holes is a challenge off the tee. In 2017, Cyclone Debbie crossed the coast of Queensland and even went so far as to extensively damage the Proserpine Town Hall, a grande old dame of venues in the area, and eventually the council had no choice but the bulldoze the rest and build something new.
A silver lining in an otherwise very dark, cyclonic cloud, it brought about the development of the Proserpine Entertainment Centre, a A$14m complex that opened in 2022, designed to cater to a diverse range of touring events and productions, and, of course, still be a centre for local shows.
Proserpine is located 130km north of Mackay, and 260km south of Townsville. More importantly, it’s only 26km from Airlie Beach, otherwise known as the gateway to the Whitsunday Islands and resorts such as Hamilton and Hayman islands, putting the town in the box seat to provide services to tourists and business travellers who instead offer day trips to the islands as part of corporate packages —an obvious attraction — and avoid the extra costs of hosting main events offshore.
In the beginning, there was quite a mish-mash of AV and PA equipment purchased as part of an insurance settlement for the original venue. AV consultant Phil Viney, principal of Design Stage, was brought in to make some sense of it all, and his best advice was to largely start from scratch — with the insurers intent on replacing like-for-like without any real system in mind, it was only creating a shipping container filled with unsuitable gear.
Phil set about creating a proper design that worked for the PEC. This region of Queensland has a long history of local theatre, dance schools and music concerts. Proserpine Entertainment Centre has become a member of Stage Queensland (formerly NARPACA), a busy tour circuit throughout Queensland and NSW, and there’s that lucrative corporate market of conventions and business seminars. Just in case, Michael Benjamin, the Senior Theatre Technician, runs out of things to do, the PEC is equipped as a full Dolby Sound cinema and presents the latest movies. To achieve all this, the auditorium is a flat-floor space with raked, retractable seating for 380 people. The emphasis is on quickly converting the auditorium from one purpose to the next, and in many scenarios the production side of things — lighting and audio — needs a discreet profile.
That’s where the Meyer Sound LINA (Very Compact Linear Line Array Loudspeaker) system suited the project exactly. Videopro in Brisbane won the gig as integrator, working closely with John Taylor, a theatre sound design expert with a long history working closely with Meyer Sound.
The Meyer Sound rig comprises eight Meyer Sound LINA per side, three Meyer Sound Ultra-X20 for front fill, and a single Meyer Sound 1100-LFC sub.
Michael Benjamin has recently returned from a stint working in London’s West End, arriving at the PEC after the building’s completion, and he plans to use those experiences to establish similar production standards and culture at the PEC. He’s already started learning programs and traineeships to get his crew well up to speed. So he admits to at first regarding the Meyer LINA system with some trepidation, wondering if its diminutive size could do the job. He says, “Then I heard it in action, and I was really, really impressed. Particularly with the dynamics of the audio, which has become so much more of a critical factor in modern cinema. Films today have a huge dynamic range — it’s a contentious point for some — and LINA delivers it effortlessly from the softest whisper to loudest explosion.”
Another benefit of LINA is its small footprint. In an auditorium like the PEC, many line arrays can dominate sightlines. LINA is so compact, it almost disappears when the lights go down.
Making transitions between modes easier is the Spacemap Go system that works natively with the Meyer Galaxy processors. In tandem with a Digico SD12 console, Spacemap Go provides full control through a selection of presets and modes to instantly tailor the sound from 7.1 cinema, to concert production, and stage monitoring.
The rig itself comprises eight Meyer Sound LINA per side, three Meyer Sound Ultra-X20 provide front fill, and a single Meyer Sound 1100-LFC sub takes care of the bottom end —almost too well, at first, after the building was discovered to “rattle” a little at certain frequencies — something that was soon ironed out. The system processing is done with two Meyer Sound Galileo Galaxy processors, an 816 and a 408. It should be pointed out that Dolby Processing is integrated into the PA for the cinema production.
SMALL, PERFECTLY FORMED
The Proserpine Entertainment Centre is a triumph of theatrical design, illustrating how a smaller venue that requires compact and flexible equipment can do so without compromising quality and sound. The Meyer Sound LINA system is the perfect fit for the PEC, offering excellent sound and… ah, blowing away everyone who gets to hear and use it.