Thrash metal, indie rock, jazz, comedy, spoken word, and more. Another Planet Entertainment (APE) does it all at Oakland Calif.'s landmark Fox Theater, a dazzling Moorish Deco movie palace whose reincarnation as a multi-use performance space required a sound system with great flexibility and intelligibility. That's why Northern California's premier independent music promoter has installed a Meyer Sound LYON linear sound reinforcement system in the historic, 2,800-capacity Fox.
"Intelligibility is the main thing," says Tony Leong, production manager for APE. "With the LYON rig, we can do spoken word, heavy metal, or comedy, and the sound hits you right in your face no matter where you are. Whether you're by the back bar or in the last row of the balcony, it sounds as clear and present as it does in the front row of the orchestra. It also sounds as good at a low volume at it does at high volume.
"With this system, FOH engineers don't need to do too much," continues Leong. "It's tuned to the room. The engineers don't have to push up and pull down all these frequencies on a graphic equalizer that much anymore, because LYON sounds good right out of the box."
"For the last few months, people have been saying, 'Wow, this room sounds so good,''' reports Gregg Perloff, CEO of APE, who worked for the legendary impresario Bill Graham for years, and whose current company produces major shows and festivals around the Bay Area and beyond. Among others, Perloff has heard raves about the LYON system from Bonnie Raitt and her crew, as well as Van Morrison, an artist not easily pleased.
Leong recalls the reaction when rocker Billy Idol played the Fox not long ago: "His engineer looked over at our engineer and said, 'This thing rocks; this thing cranks. It's really impressive.'"
The engineering and design innovations that the Fox Theater's Bay Area neighbor Meyer Sound has brought to LYON have significantly enhanced the audience experience, says Tom Lyon of of system installer Pro Media/UltraSound. Lyon worked on the Fox installation and is now on the road with Dave Matthews Band as systems tech. "With LYON, engineers don't have to work as hard to get the sound they want," he says. "The increase in headroom and power is impressive, even though only two boxes were added to the rig."
APE installed a Meyer Sound MILO line array loudspeaker system in the newly renovated Fox in 2009 when it was first reopened as a concert venue. Perloff was pleased with the MILO system and saw no need to update it over the years—until he heard LYON.
"I've been doing this a long time, and I've never seen such a quantum leap in sound," Perloff says. "Investing in LYON is one of the best decisions we've ever made. We're very fortunate to have one of the world's great sound companies just a few miles from the Fox."
The Fox system comprises 14 flown LYON linear line array loudspeakers and six groundstacked 1100-LFC low-frequency control elements per side. Three 700-HP subwoofers are flown above center stage, and front fill comprises four MSL-4 and three M'elodie line array loudspeakers. A Galileo Callisto loudspeaker management system with one Galileo Callisto 616 AES and three Galileo Callisto 616 array processors provides system drive and alignment.
Originally opened in 1928, the Fox Theater is a gorgeous eye-popper with faux-wood sunbursts on the barrel-vaulted ceiling and giant, gold, Hindu-like guardians framing the stage. The theater is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and hosts over 100 concerts and events each year.