ArtYardSet on the Delaware River midway between New York and Philadelphia, ArtYard in Frenchtown, New Jersey, was founded six years ago with a remit to be ‘an incubator for creative expression and a catalyst for collaborations that reveal the transformational power of art’.

In fitting out its recently completed 162-seat McDonnell Theater, ArtYard chose an Alcons Audio pro-ribbon systems for sound.

ArtYard’s roots – and its relationship with Alcons – date to 2004, when Chris Langhart, designed and built a private entertainment space in a barn on Jill Kearney and Stephen McDonnell’s Pennsylvania farm with John Chester.

‘Chris and I had long been fond of ribbon tweeters, but at the time we had not seen one that would survive in a sound reinforcement system,’ Chester says. ‘However, Chris knew of Alcons pro-ribbon speakers and wanted them for the barn. At that time Alcons had no distribution in the US, so we purchased a system directly and imported it from Alcons in the Netherlands.’

Comprising two 12-inch VR12 mid-size monitors, a 15-inch BF302 high-output subwoofer, and two ALC2 amplified loudspeaker controllers, this may have been the first Alcons system in the US. ‘It was the first system I’d worked with that sounded really transparent at low level and maintained that quality without difficulty all the way up to maximum volume,’ Chester recalls.

McDonnell Theater Breyer Performance (Pic: ArtYard/Eric Fiorito)After ten years of events, Kearney and artist Elsa Mora founded ArtYard as a non-profit centre and put on exhibitions, live performances, and residencies and festivals. When the opportunity arose to build a new venue on the site of a disused egg hatchery in Frenchtown, they decided on a space designed to host events ranging from music concerts and theatre to dance and film festivals. Langhart and Chester only considered an Alcons sound system.

‘We wanted a very high-end cinema and PA, capable of delivering the widest range of performances to a very high standard,’ Chester explains. ‘We had a great starting point in the combination of a good architect and adequate budget for acoustic treatment giving us a good sounding room, which is always better than trying to use the sound system to fix a bad room.’

Getting the acoustics right was acoustics expert Sam Berkow, who was recommended by David Rahn – by this time established as Alcons’ North American sales manager – and Mike Sinclair of New Jersey-based A/V specialist, Sinclair AV, who was brought in to install the equipment.

‘We have been involved with several multi-purpose facilities where the speaker-wall was not built correctly and caused disturbing resonances. Here, we were asked to help design an acoustically appropriate screen wall and we knew that Sam’s expertise, together with the Alcons pro-ribbon screen systems and subwoofers, would give ArtYard audiences an exceptional movie experience,’ Sinclair says. ‘We have used Alcons systems in several projects where high-quality sound was a critical design goal and they have always delivered.’

Working with Rahn, Chester specified an Alcons pro-ribbon cinema system comprising three CR1 screen systems, two 15-inch CB151sl shallow subwoofer systems and ten 6,5-inch CCS6 small-format surround speakers. For live events, a flown LCR system of four 6,5-inch Alcons LR7/120 and six 6,5-inch LR7/90 micro line array modules, plus three 12-inch LR7B micro line-array bass modules. Three Sentinel3 and one Sentinel10 amplified loudspeaker controllers provide power and control.

ArtYard’s McDonnell Theater (Pic: ArtYard/Paul Warchol)‘The first thing I like to do with a new speaker system is to listen to a wide variety of music and think about whether there’s some common sound that’s contributed by the speaker system,’ Chester says. ‘With the new Alcons system, I heard more of the music and less of the speaker system than ever before. It made us completely confident that we have a system that can do everything from subtle reinforcement to loud electric music with outstanding clarity.

‘I also like that Alcons amplifiers are not built into the speakers, because it would often be very difficult to quickly access our speakers for service while a show is set up on stage. Alcons’ Signal Integrity Sensing eliminates any sound degradation caused by speaker cables, so we get the sound quality of powered speakers without any of the disadvantages.’

Opening acts in the McDonnell Theater included Apsáalooke hip-hop artist Supaman, dance troupe Company SBB, an Oscars contenders film festival, and award-winning contemporary classical composer, pianist, and Frenchtown resident Heidi Breyer. The events confirmed that audiences and staff alike appreciate the sound quality delivered by the Alcons systems.

‘Everyone was very happy,’ Chester says. ‘As I thought from the experience in the barn, all those years ago, the Alcons system really makes a piano sound like a piano. One could connect directly with the artist without being aware of the sound reinforcement system.’

‘The HF pro-ribbon drivers in Alcons loudspeakers are among the finest I have heard,’ Berkow adds. ‘They deliver low distortion with wonderful transient response.’

ArtYard aims to present transformative artwork, foster unexpected collaborations, incubate original new work, and provide people access to a vibrant third space where culture and community are planted, nurtured, and grown. With the Alcons Audio systems, they can be assured it is doing so with a sound system of choice.

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