This summer in Bardstown, Kentucky, the sounds of composer Stephen Foster’s “Oh! Susanna” and “My Old Kentucky Home” are alive again at the J. Dan Talbott Amphitheatre thanks in part to a new audio blueprint featuring an Allen & Heath dLive C3500 control surface and DM64 MixRack.
Built in 1958, the amphitheatre has hosted The Stephen Foster Story ever since it opened. An outdoor musical known for its elaborate antebellum costuming and performances of Foster’s songs, the show almost went dark in 2017 when the venue faced closure based upon the deteriorating condition of the stage area.
With a combination of grants and private donations raising the $1.2 million needed for renovation, the amphitheatre opened this season with a completely new set and sound, the latter being designed and installed by Louisville-based JCA Media.
“While this is a permanent installation,” notes JCA’s Alex Peake, who worked on the design/build team, “some aspects of the sound system needed to be as agile as a touring rig.”
Speedy FOH setup is facilitated by a custom ﬂip case that allows the Allen & Heath dLive C3500 to be rolled out, plugged in, and have the system up-and running in ﬁve minutes. “The client wanted to keep the gear minimal and not leave a large footprint,” Peake relates. “That’s one of the reasons we chose the dLive. Its compact size oﬀered a lot while taking away little.”
Faced with a need for providing 24 wireless channels onstage, JCA was additionally able to keep the gear list minimal by choosing Shure QLX-D bodypacks and using the dLive C3500 to monitor the systems without the use of any additional hardware.
“dLive lets engineers monitor supported Shure wireless systems without leaving the mix position,” Peake explains. “All essential wireless information including multiple channels of mutes, signal levels, and battery bars can be viewed right from the C3500.”
An Allen & Heath DX168 expander provides ﬂexible I/O support onstage with its 16 XLR inputs and eight XLR outputs, while an IP8 remote controller was included for times when the system needs to be run without the control surface or additional mixing locations are required.
“As far as the integration went, everything ﬁt right together,” Peake says on a parting note. “They should all be this easy and sound so good.”