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VPAC’s new acoustic banners bring in ‘da noise (in a good way)

Date: January 5, 2024
Author: Cat Hayes
New projects ensure excellent performer, audience experiences at VPAC

As one of the best live music venues in Colorado, there’s a high bar to uphold. This motivates the staff at the VPAC to make continuous improvements to the facility, which also enhances the audience experience.

One of the many improvements in 2023 – which marked the VPAC’s 25th anniversary – was a substantial upgrade to an unsung sound system hero: the acoustic banners.

This audio-enhancing background feature isn’t as noticeable as a curtain upgrade or even as functionally relevant as the seating (also acoustically enhanced, but that’s a different story). However, acoustic banners are hugely important to the theater’s renowned sound quality.

An up-close look at the pattern on the new acoustic banners at the Vilar Performing Arts Center
An up-close look at the pattern on the new acoustic banners at the Vilar Performing Arts Center

The banners were fully upgraded this year. Staff collaborated with LA-based Eastman Partners and the VPAC’s original architects, Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates on this project, which will continue to help fine-tune the nightly audio experience. According to facilities manager Dean Davis, the banners change the dynamics of the theater’s acoustics and will make it much easier for VPAC technicians to deploy them before showtime.

One of the larger, upgraded acoustic banners installed at the Vilar Performing Arts Center
One of the larger, upgraded acoustic banners installed at the Vilar Performing Arts Center.

 

“Acoustic banners are rolls of cloth designed to help dampen the sound during amplified concerts,” said Davis. “They can also be rolled up to heighten the warmth of the room’s sound, helping accentuate difference voices in an orchestra performance. It’s as if the theater has its own voice.”

The original banners simply wore out from years of use, and the equipment and wiring used to control them also started to fail. The original installation was a custom job, so maintenance and repair were much more than a couple of phone calls or emails from fruition. The originals were also made of velour and were some of the first examples of printing on velour.

Alternately, the new banners are made of a fabric that feels like felt and range in size from 4 – 7 feet wide and 8 – 17 feet tall. The controls for the large banners are also much simpler than that used for the originals, since the technology is more common now at other theaters around the world.

Davis puts it in numerical terms. “We now have a one-button operation and emergency stop controls. Before, we had 22 different buttons that you’d have to try to hit four to six at a time. Now, one person can make it happen in under a minute.”

If you haven’t experienced the new acoustic banners yet, join us for a show – or ten! – in our winter lineup!

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