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Martin Woldson Theater At The Fox Adds New Sound System

Brian Ritter

Spokane’s Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox has a brand new sound system.

The system, designed by Relles Sound of Eugene, Oregon, utilizes Meyer Sound speakers and equipment.

Fox General Manager Brian Ritter explains that the original system from 2006 was not big enough to handle larger touring shows and they had to supplement with other equipment. In addition, the previous system had one major issue, namely, the long distance from the power amps at the back of the hall to the speakers at the front of house.

"That distance was creating a problem with impedance drop and having the system sound sort of flat. A lot of the higher frequencies were dropping out. This new system has internal amplifiers in each one of the speakers so the cable to the speakers is no more than 12 inches long and that creates a lot more efficient system,” Ritter said.

Also the design of the subwoofers is such that they actually cancel out lower frequencies on the stage behind the speakers, which is a benefit to the final mix heard by the audience.

“So if you have a lot of low frequency rumble that is going along and being picked up by on stage microphones, it muddies up the sound, and so this allows you to create a much cleaner mix for front of house,” he said.

Another benefit is a remote monitoring system that allows the sound crew to home in on any problems with the system.

“That allows us to see in real time the performance of each speaker in the array from the sound board, so that you can tell if you’re having a malfunction in each individual component,” he said.

The digital mix board also has a remote capability, so the soundman can use an Ipad from a remote location in the hall, or on stage, to make adjustments to the mix.

Ritter says the end results in a much better balanced sound for all the seats in the Fox.

“That’s really what we were shooting for, to get side to side, front to back, consistent sound,” said Ritter.

I decided to try to test that goal, by moving around the theater while Brian played music in the system. I walked to several areas of the room and couldn't tell any difference in the sound.

The new system was purchased through donations from longtime Spokane Symphony supporters. Last year, the Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox held 20 classical concerts, plus more than 150 concerts in a variety of genres.

Steve was part of the Spokane Public Radio family for many years before he came on air in 1999. His wife, Laurie, produced Radio Ethiopia in the late 1980s through the '90s, and Steve used to “lurk in the shadowy world” of Weekend SPR. Steve has done various on air shifts at the station, including nearly 15 years as the local Morning Edition host. Currently, he is the voice of local weather and news during All Things Considerd, writing, editing, producing and/or delivering newscasts and features for both KPBX and KSFC. Aside from SPR, Steve ,who lives in the country, enjoys gardening, chickens, playing and listening to music, astronomy, photography, sports cars and camping.