Install of the Month

In January 1998, the Las Vegas Hilton began a large-scale renovation project in its performance venue known simply as the Hilton Theater. The project
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Install of the Month

May 1, 2003 12:00 PM

In January 1998, the Las Vegas Hilton began a large-scale renovation project in its performance venue known simply as the Hilton Theater. The project involved replacing the stage entirely and reconfiguring the seating area in order to accommodate multiple types of events. As with many projects of this sort, the revisions have been ongoing and continuous based upon needs and the availability of technological improvements.

Several years earlier, Hilton technical staff and SPL Integrated Solutions of Columbia, Maryland, installed a broadcast video infrastructure, including redundant prewired camera locations, dedicated fiber-out of the building, and a comprehensive quick disconnect truck A/V interconnection panel. The entire lighting system has also been modified, adding Mac 2000s and a Whole Hog III control system. More recently, in-house technicians installed a state-of-the-art loudspeaker system from Eastern Acoustic Works (EAW), with Crown signal processing and amplification. In addition, two Yamaha PM1Ds have been added to continue the theater's modernization.

Mark Herman, the Las Vegas Hilton's technical director, stresses the need for extreme system flexibility for the theater's many different shows and clients. “The use of the theater is categorized as a production show/concert/broadcast/corporate presentation room,” Herman says. “In other words, we do it all, with perhaps less emphasis on production shows than many rooms in town. We have recently done Rent [Broadway production], Damon Wayans, Natalie Cole [concert], Wheel of Fortune [broadcast], and Microsoft, Sony, and Intel corporate events. The theater has a flexible seating configuration for anywhere from about 600 to 2,000. Typical events go with a 1,600-seat configuration.”

Given the multipurpose nature of the room, one of the key decisions, according to Herman, was the choice of mixing consoles. “We realized the desirability of ‘all digital’ very early,” says Herman. “However, we took a cautious approach towards acquisition and implementation. We carefully studied, worked with, and listened to all major contenders in the FOH digital console market. We made our own assessment and listened to the opinion of other respected professionals who had extensive road experience with the various digital desks. We also waited for an understanding and acceptance level of digital consoles on the part of the general population of touring engineers. Only then did we make our decision and financial commitment to purchase our two Yamaha PM1D consoles.” Key factors in their decision were the ability to write an entire show in scenes (setlist) and have all changes track at the push of a user-defined key.

The centerpiece of the theater audio system is a Yamaha PM1D digital-audio mixing system at front of house (approximately 55 feet from the stage edge). A second PM1D is used for the Clair 12AM stage monitors. The main left and right speaker clusters are composed of 14 EAW KF761 line array loudspeakers, with 8 EAW BH 760 subwoofers. The center cluster, used for 5.1 presentations, consists of four EAW KF850 loudspeakers. All loudspeaker processing is handled by a Crown USM-810, driving 52 Crown Macro Tech amps controlled by a Crown IQ system.

The extensive video system includes two motorized 10.5-foot-by-14-foot rear-projection screens, a Panasonic switcher, and Sanyo PLC XP-30, 3,000-lumens projectors. IMAG (image magnification) is routinely done during concerts and digital video promotional playback during the audience seating. “We have found that all types of events now routinely incorporate a combination of live camera, digital video playback, and computer screen presentations,” Herman says. “Having this capability ready to go saves clients time and money while delivering an optimum presentation.”

A look at the theater's schedule proves the fact that the room can accommodate perhaps the widest variety of programming without the need for retrofitting and reequipping. The costs and time associated with setting up comparable production facilities is generally prohibitive because of financial, logistical, scheduling, and other production constraints. Most would agree that the capabilities of the Hilton Theater are unparalleled in the entertainment/production facility environment in the Las Vegas market.

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