Opened in 1931, the Warner Theatre is a landmark located in Erie, Pennsylvania
USA - To provide incoming productions and touring artists with a rider-friendly sound reinforcement, Warner Theatre’s production manager Ryan Patsy teamed up with consultant David Bateman, CTS-D, of Acentech and integrator Todd Pander of Dobil Laboratories to outfit the historic theatre with new JBL VTX Series line arrays and subwoofers.
Commissioned in 1929 by the then-named Warner Brothers Productions and opened in 1931, the Warner Theatre is a landmark located in Erie, Pennsylvania. The venue operated as a cinema theatre until it was sold to the city of Erie in 1976 and converted to a performing arts centre. In addition to being the home of the Erie Philharmonic, Lake Erie Ballet and the Erie Broadway Series, the Warner Theatre regularly hosts concerts and performances by touring artists like Kenny Rogers, Jerry Seinfeld, ZZ Top, Kenny G, Alice Cooper, Rob Zombie and many more.
In order to provide world-class experiences for such a wide range of events, venue operator Erie Events conducted extensive building renovations to improve the facility in the downtime of the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of the renovations, venue officials wanted to install a new house audio system that could support the majority of incoming productions. The theatre’s production manager Ryan Patsy partnered with consultant David Bateman of Acentech and Todd Pander of Dobil to outfit the historic theatre with a live sound reinforcement solution featuring JBL VTX Series loudspeakers and Crown I-Tech Series amplifiers.
“They were looking for a house sound system that could meet as many of the touring acts’ riders as possible,” said Bateman. “Erie Events was bringing in more Broadway-style big performance bus-and-truck type shows, and it wanted to be able to facilitate that. The JBL system is rider-friendly because of name recognition, performance and longevity. If JBL was doing something wrong for all these years, it wouldn’t be here this many years later. If you see JBL on a rider, you know it’s going to work and it’s going to sound good.”
“I’ve had a lot of experience with JBL in the past,” said Patsy. “It’s as rider-friendly as they come, in my experience making bands happy on riders. I knew that JBL is where we’d get the most value for the dollar.”
To ensure wide and balanced coverage with power and clarity, the main left-right hang consists of 18 JBL VTX A8 line array speakers, suspended nine per side. VTX A8 combines two 8-inch woofers, four 3.5-inch midrange drivers and two 2-inch high-frequency drivers in a single low-profile cabinet to provide productions at Warner Theatre with unmatched performance, efficiency, and a consistent 110-degrees of horizontal coverage. Additionally, the team installed four JBL VTX B18 subwoofers deployed on the ground for reinforced bass response throughout the venue.
“The A8s are crisp and clean. We’ve had no complaints with the new system,” said Patsy. “We used to have complaints before, largely in part because we’d do shows in one day, and they wouldn’t have time to tune the system properly under the gun. We’ve eliminated that step for a lot of our smaller performances. We just need to hook the system up and it’s going to cover the space great with intelligibility everywhere in the room.”
In addition to the VTX A8 and B18, JBL AC25 and AC26 loudspeakers serve respectively as front-fills and balcony-fill speakers. Finally, Crown I-Tech 4x3500 amplifiers supply the entire system with clean and ample power, while the Crown plug-in for QSC QSys systems enable the production staff to easily monitor the status of all amplifiers remotely from front-of-house.
“The Crown plug-in for QSys is really cool,” said Patsy. “I can put it on a touch screen display at FOH that’s easily visible by anyone on the crew so we can just look at a glance and make sure we’re running the system within the right parameters without blowing anything up.”
Patsy noted that the new JBL VTX system helps the Warner Theatre in-house crew support a vast majority of the incoming productions without having to rely on outside rental companies.
After two years of being closed, the Warner Theatre reopened on January 23, 2022 with a performance by the Erie Philharmonic. Both Patsy and Bateman related the satisfaction of all parties involved with the sound quality and coverage provided by the new JBL VTX system.
“JBL has some very happy customers here at the Warner Theatre,” said Patsy. “Bands and production crews are really happy when they roll in and see the JBL VTX system in the air. They know their artist is going to be happy with the sound that their audiences get. We are ecstatic with it. We’ve heard nothing but compliments from everyone about how good our new VTX system sounds.”

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