The Vernon Performing Arts Centre’s technical director Eric Pells

The Vernon Performing Arts Centre’s technical director Eric Pells

Sound quality goes up a few notches

New digital sound system at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre should attract some big acts.

To quote Nigel Tufnel from the 1984 mokumentary This is Spinal Tap, the amplification at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre now “goes to 11.”

In what could be described as the difference between monophonic sound and Dolby, the VPAC is now wired to stage first-rate concerts with a new digital sound system installed over the summer.

Demonstrated to members of the community on Thursday, the difference between the centre’s old sound system and new could be heard immediately.

“The centre was a jewel in the crown of the community with its state-of-the-art technology when it was built, but over the years, we haven’t kept up with the technology. These upgrades are up to today’s standards of state of the art and should remain that way for the next 15 years,” said the VPAC’s executive director Pamela Burns Resch.

Paid for by the VPAC society, Regional District of the North Okanagan and the Province of B.C.’s creative spaces fund, the system now includes a new DiGiCo digital sound console, with 32 channels of input, as well as a new Turbo Sound floor monitor, which gives the system more flexibility and a high-end stereo sound, said the centre’s technical director Eric Pells.

Pells, who with assistant technical director Rylee Block, demonstrated the new upgrades by playing a song by The Civil Wars on both the old system and the new, said the new console, which is half the size of the old unit, is more portable and weighs 100 pounds. It can also be run to the stage with a single cable.

“Before with the large gear, it needed to be carried from the top (of the sound booth) down (to the theatre auditorium) and now it’s a lot easier to do so because of the weight,” said Pells, who worked on a similar system previously while a technician at the Kelowna Community Theatre.

“It has a range of effects, with delay, reverb, etc. and cues that are used for festival shows that can be programmed for different monitor mixes for different musicians. We also have the capability of focussing on one voice and moving back and forth between different voices.”

The new system has already attracted some attention from presenters, and has come just in time before the sold-out concert by Great Big Sea, as well as a show by Colin James, both coming to the centre in October.

“We’ve already spoken to Colin James’ people and they are happy to use the system,” said Pells. “Acts don’t have to bring or rent their own systems, which makes us competitive in the theatre industry. We can now bring acts to Vernon we couldn’t in the past.”