Australia’s Gold Coast has done much more than rename its cultural precinct. Nestled between parklands, a lake, and Surfer’s Paradise, the venue formerly known as The Arts Centre Gold Coast, now known as HOTA (Home of the Arts), unveiled its new $37.5 million outdoor amphitheatre earlier this year. With aspirations to present art experiences of national and international scale, HOTA’s new outdoor stage required a sound system that could deliver superb audio quality for a wide range of events. An L-Acoustics Kara system provided by Gold Coast L-Acoustics sales and installation specialist/integrator con-sol has drawn rave reviews from performers and audiences alike.
Underlining the importance of HOTA, internationally acclaimed comedian, actor and musician Tim Minchin launched its ambitious outdoor cultural programme on 17 March 2018 with his only homecoming performance of the year. The pioneering multi-award winner Laurie Anderson is HOTA’s first international artist-in-residence and has already performed a series of unique works at the new outdoor stage including the world premiere of her Stories in the Dark, a concert of soundscapes performed in complete darkness
As with many large-scale projects, one of the main challenges for HOTA’s outdoor stage was the large number of stakeholders involved. These included architects, builders and engineers, consultants and sub-contractors as well as HOTA itself.
“With so many interested parties, it was important for me to drive and influence the technical aspects of the project at both the design and construction phases from the perspective of the end user,” explains Richard Muecke, HOTA Technical Supervisor and Head Technician.
The other main challenge was that the outdoor stage had been constructed within an urban residential area. A noise management plan would need to be implemented to provide a great experience for performers and audience alike, without disturbing the neighbours.
“While a benchmark system had been proposed, in the interest of accountability and transparency, a loudspeaker shootout was organised, from which the L-Acoustic Kara was ultimately selected to best suit the operational requirements of the outdoor stage,” explains Muecke.
con-sol supplied the L-Acoustics system as part of the shootout. Managing Director Bill Karaitiana and con-sol’s technical team were responsible for delivering the winning Kara system, which outperformed the benchmark system both in terms of performance and cost.
The system itself is a flown stereo system comprising two main arrays of 14 Kara each, and two sub arrays of five SB18 subs, hanging directly behind the main arrays. Four X8 full range cabinets provide additional coverage at the front of the stage. Depending on the demands of the event, an additional 12 112P compact loudspeakers and four discreet SB15P subwoofers can also be deployed. The entire system is driven by eleven LA4X amplified controllers, and was designed with extensive use of L-Acoustics’ Soundvision 3D modelling software.
“Given that no loudspeaker from any manufacturer had been heard at the site prior to the shootout, the modelling provided by Soundvision is testament to its predictive abilities,” explains Muecke. “The results matched the Soundvision model precisely and we now use the programme extensively to incorporate different sound designs as specified on an event needs basis. This has included supplementing the system with additional components such as L-Acoustics ARCS, SB28 and KS28 cabinets as out fill and low frequency extensions.”
Following a performance by the Queensland Symphony Orchestra at HOTA’s outdoor stage, FOH engineer Geoff McGowan raved: “The Kara system installed at HOTA on the Gold Coast has blown me away. The clarity and articulation were superb and perfectly translated both the full power and minute subtleties of the orchestra's dynamics in full flight. This allowed the pure emotion of the performance to easily translate to the audience, and with such a high level of transparency that the system became invisible.”
Greg Weaver, Front of House engineer for Tim Minchin, who performed at the free open air concert to kick off the venue’s new programme, added: “I had a great show and thought the PA was set up extremely well.”
The technical team at HOTA is equally impressed. “All-in-all we are thrilled, not only with our Kara system, but also in being able to offer L-Acoustics products throughout the venue,” says Muecke. “HOTA has a demanding and wide range of event programming that incorporates everything from orchestral to rock and pop performances. The Kara system has been able to deliver superb quality sound reinforcement to critical acclaim and praise from both the audiences and the performers.”