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Electro-Voice Brings State-of-the-Art Sound to Historic Minneapolis Theatre

With the recent installation of Electro-Voice line-array loudspeaker systems in both the State and the Pantages theatres, this partnership has left no doubt of its commitment to maintaining both the highest possible production values and the character of vaudeville theaters and movie palaces.

The State and the Pantages have each been through multiple incarnations over the years, at various points hosting movies, vaudeville and other types of live performances. 

The Pantages, designed in an Art Moderne/Beaux Arts style, first opened in 1916, followed by the Italian Renaissance-themed State, just down Hennepin Avenue, in 1921.

As with many theatres of the time, each began as a proud, even awe-inspiring architectural gem, but after several decades they’d both become run-down shadows of their former selves, and by the mid-1980s neither was in operation. 

The Hennepin Theatre Trust was later able to gain control of and painstakingly restore the two theatres, with the State reopening in 1991 and the Pantages in 2002.

At just over 1,000, the capacity of the Pantages is half that of the State, but there is nonetheless a lot of overlap in the types of material presented in the two venues.

 Steve Olson, Operations Coordinator with the Historic Theatre Group said: “Both rooms are used for all types of concerts, comedians, plays, musicals and dance performances, as well as receptions, graduations and corporate meetings. The system we installed in each room is intended to cover all those types of shows without needing to bring in additional reinforcement.”

The existing system at the Pantages was based on Electro-Voice XLC127 line arrays that had been regularly upgraded since their initial installation in 2002.

“The HF drivers were upgraded as soon as the 127+ change was available, which made a nice improvement in the smoothness of the highs,” Steve added.“As subsequent component upgrades and design changes became available – like DVX woofers and FIR optimization filters – we implemented them as well. Every time we upgraded it was like we were getting a completely new PA, increasing the sound quality for our patrons. EV’s approach to upgrades definitely extended the value of our original investment at very low cost and kept our system meeting today’s standards of excellence.


The twofer solution

The Pantages is somewhat tall and narrow, but at the time of the XLC system’s purchase no one was making compact line array elements with 90-degree horizontal coverage. At the State, meanwhile, two decades had passed since the venue’s reopening, and the aging (non-EV) sound system was in desperate need of replacement.

 Steve continued: “We were already familiar with the great sound quality of EV products, and we’d had excellent support from EV over the years. So we spoke with George Georgallis of EV technical support about our situation, and he came up with a great solution.”

Working with EV technical support, Mike Doucot of EV sales and Chris Vnak of local EV dealer Metro Sound and Lighting, the Historic Theatre Group purchased a brand-new system for the Pantages that is built around XLD291 line arrays, which offer 90-degree coverage. At the same time the like-new XLC127DVX Pantages system, with its 120-degree horizontal coverage, was moved to the wider State, where it was paired with new TG series amplifiers and X-Line subwoofers.

“EV’s solution not only helped us achieve the price point we needed but also improved the sound quality at both venues.

The 90-degree box is better suited for the Pantages environment, and because it’s more compact it takes up less space next to the proscenium opening, so even the lighting techs are happy with the sound. How can you go wrong upgrading two venues at once when it seemed like upgrading even one was almost out of reach?”

Electro-Voice provided the Historic Theatre Group with a complete design for the Pantages Theatre that utilized existing amplifiers and subs.





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