Gordon Introduces New Audio and Visual Systems
There’s a new sound in town at the Gordon Center for Performing Arts this fall. For the 2017-2018 season, the Gordon has added brand new sound and video systems, new stage monitors, and new technology to better assist both visual and hearing-impaired audience members.
This massive undertaking has been in the works for almost a year, starting with the selection of the Baltimore-based business HP Electronics Inc. to install the Gordon Center’s new Danley Sound Labs speakers. It’s a setup particularly well suited for the Gordon, according to Theater Manager and Technical Director Peter Michaelson, because the goal was to reinforce sound, not amplify it.
“Our stage is close enough to the audience that they can hear what’s going on offstage”, Michaelson said. “A lot of venues, when you go to see a concert, you’re not hearing the stage, you’re just hearing the amplification.”
Besides being a better match for the Gordon Center’s size and acoustics, the new system also places less strain on the ears. “These are very easy on the ear, which is important”, Michaelson said, noting that one of his engineers was able to test the system out for over eight hours without reporting any ear fatigue.
The Gordon’s upgrades aren’t just limited to its sound system. Last summer, the Gordon Center also purchased a new digital projection system for their video setup and Michaelson said it’s already paying dividends, starting with this year’s Baltimore Jewish Film Festival. In previous years, the Gordon Center had to hire a full projection company to screen films but with the new video system, they were able to downsize that to a single projectionist this year.
And film screenings aren’t the only area where the Gordon Center’s been able to use their new video projection system. Not only does the new system do front projection, which is what is used to screen movies, it’s also capable of rear projection. This has allowed the Gordon Center to run video advertisements at several events as well as showing videos at the 2017 J Live concert, the Children’s Theater Production Company’s recent performance of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, the Baltimore Jewish Hall of Fame induction ceremony, and several other concerts and events. “It adds value and it’s a reason to be there”, Michaelson said of the new system.
Thanks to a generous grant, the Gordon Center has also been able to install a brand new, state-of-the-art assisted listening system. Michaelson said the system combines the “loop” technology already standard for assisting hearing-impaired audience members in Europe with the traditional headphone technology more prevalent in the United States. He also said the system should allow the Gordon Center to keep pace with advances in assistive listening and viewing technology. “We have the capacity to do both visually-impaired and listening-impaired (technology)”, Michaelson said.
One audience member who’s already used the new system, Shelley Blank, had nothing but praise for it. “The clarity of voices was good and there was very little distortion”, said Blank, who was also grateful the system doesn’t use any “uncomfortable earphones.” To use the new system, Gordon Center patrons just have to stop by the box office to pick up an assistive listening device.
Of course, all of these improvements have one very simple purpose: to allow patrons to fully enjoy their experience every time they visit the Gordon Center.