In early August, the San Diego Symphony celebrated the grand opening of its new, state-of-the-art outdoor performance space, The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park, after a 13-month delay due to COVID. The architectural marvel and surrounding park grounds sit on the edge of the bay in Downtown San Diego, serving as a unique gathering ground for elevated live performances and public city events.
Throughout the five-year project, project managers relied on expertise from global leaders in audiovisual and entertainment technology, Solotech, who specified and installed all AV equipment, including a Clear-Com Eclipse® HX Digital Matrix system with integrated FreeSpeak II® Digital Wireless Intercom, HelixNet® Digital Network Partyline and LQ® Series of IP Interfaces.
In previous years, the symphony had been hosting outdoor performances, from June through September, weather-permitting, in a temporary manner with a portable stage and AV equipment they would bring to the site with each performance. The goal for this new venue was to create a facility designed specifically for elevated outdoor performances where the San Diego Symphony, as well as other leading touring acts, could perform outdoors year-round. To achieve this, the San Diego Symphony turned to Solotech and Salter acoustics and AV consultants.
“I have been a longtime user of Clear-Com in my background with Cirque, so I understand what is required of a communications system in complex production environments and the value that Eclipse HX can bring to a production in terms of flexibility,” commented Aaron Beck, Business Development Manager & Sr. Engineer for Solotech. “At first, there was only a plan for a HelixNet system with 4-channel partyline and a handful of wireless beltpacks, but we quickly recommended they include an Eclipse Frame and FreeSpeak II in addition to their HelixNet plan, for a powerful, campus-wide solution.”
With a 10,000-capacity venue comes a huge area that requires seamless coverage for communications. Building A is located backstage of the main Shell and houses the rack room, equipped with HelixNet, Eclipse and LQ. HelixNet is linked to the Eclipse system via LQ, which effectively maximizes its interfacing capabilities and potential for expansion as needs arise.
Eclipse is also integrated with FreeSpeak II 1.9 GHz wireless beltpacks and transceiver modules strategically placed around the venue all the way back to Building B, the video production room at the far end of the performance space. Building B houses V-Series™ Iris panels with built-in IP connectivity to the Eclipse system in Building A.
This system configuration ensures that all production team members can remain connected no matter where they are across the widespread campus, with as many direct, point-to-point and one-to-many audio and data signal distributions and connections as desired. Eclipse HX can integrate with almost any device over IP (Dante, AES67 and native), redundant Fiber, MADI and audio CAT5 without compromising audio quality or performance, making it the most highly scalable, extensible, and programmable system on the market.
“We felt as though upgrading the system to include Eclipse would provide the flexibility they may not know they needed, but that could become useful in the future,” explained Beck. “This venue will be hosting the San Diego Symphony, but it will also be hosting touring acts and public events that will have an entirely different set of communications requirements. With Eclipse they can handle it all and then some.”
“Communication is the most important part of any live show.The ability to have multiple group channels and point to point communication is crucial for us every step of the way,” offered Joel Watts, Audio director, San Diego Symphony. “The flexibility has allowed us to push all our production communication over to one platform, from paging and stage announcements to shout speakers and snoop microphones for conductors. This is the perfect system for our new space.”
The opening weekend’s concerts featured the San Diego Symphony and special guests on Friday, various Broadway stars on Saturday, and pop-soul vocalist Gladys Knight on Sunday.
Solotech System Integration Designers Brandon Andreasen and Shawn Risberg, Solotech Consultant Francois “Frankie” Desjardins and San Diego Symphony Consultant, Shawn Murphy also played pivotal roles in this project.