Pittsburgh’s McKees Rocks is a pleasant suburb with an interesting past and a bright future thanks to the renewal of its downtown. The jewel of these is the renaissance of the 1,400-seat Roxian Theatre, which reopened with an impressive slate of headliners including Snarky Puppy, Bruce Hornsby, Bad Religion, The Psychedelic Furs, Common and Avril Lavigne. Key to its revival is an L-Acoustics Kara(i) loudspeaker system, designed and installed by Hollowood Music & Sound.

RoxianOnce a vaudeville house, the 90-year-old theatre closed in 2003 and remained vacant until local entrepreneur John Pergal, who also owns nearby Lawrenceville’s Thunderbird Café & Music Hall, engineered it return. Pergal isn’t just an owner – he and his blues band, the Pawnbrokers, play the club. ‘Acoustics and sound systems are afterthoughts at a lot of venues,’ he says. ‘But not at this one. We had to have the best, and now we do.’

Hollowood Music & Sound, whose Brad Hollowood supervises its installation department, may have found the theatre’s location convenient – his store is several doors down from the venue – but the venue presented sonic challenges.

‘The theatre has a pretty large balcony, and the intent was to host a wide range of music genres, so the sound system had to be able to cover all those bases,’ says Hollowood. ‘We used L-Acoustics Soundvision software to get a very precise acoustical model of what the sound would do in this space, and when we plugged Kara into those specifications, it came back a perfect match.’

The Kara(i) enclosures also offered the compact form factor needed to maintain clear sightlines from the balcony, and the kind of weight-to-performance ratio that made it a good candidate for the near century-old venue’s ceiling. ‘Kara’s size and weight were ideal for this project,’ he says. ‘Plus it’s a clean looking system, which is important for an historic venue like this.’

Hollowood Music & Sound Installation Technicians Nathan Shapert and Dylan Engles received training on Soundvision, as part of the company becoming an L-Acoustics Certified Provider for installs (CPi), and worked with L-Acoustics Product Manager Scott Sugden and Application Engineer Jesse Stevens to refine the system design before installation and system tuning after it was in place.

Roxian

Hollowood cites that kind of close support and collaboration for why Hollowood Music & Sound is an all-L-Acoustics house. ‘They have the products we need for a wide variety of jobs and the experience to support us for all of them,’ he says. ‘And, of course, they all sound awesome.’

Roxian Theatre’s system comprises 24 Kara(i) enclosures, hung 12-per-side with each hang backed by three SB18i subs, all powered by seven LA8 amplified controllers. In addition, four KS28 subs are positioned beneath the stage, powered by one LA12X. Six short-throw X8 loudspeakers, driven by a single LA4X, are used as front fill, while eight more X8 fill in under the balcony, powered by another LA4X. On stage, 11 larger X12 serve as monitor wedges powered by yet another LA4X, and three SB18m are used as stage side fill subs and for the drum fill, collectively powered by two LA12X.

Venue Owner and Managing Partner Pergal is pleased with the performance of Kara(i), both as a club impresario and as musician: ‘The vocal clarity is amazing and the bass is really tight,’ he says. ‘I’ve personally played through many line arrays, and I go out to lots of different venues all the time to hear music, and this system sounds as good or better than any I’ve listened to – including the monitors, which most club owners will never hear! For me, the whole idea of restoring the Roxian was about the live music; that’s what I’m in it for. I want it to be a great experience for everyone who comes here, and with our L-Acoustics system, it absolutely is.’

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