According to a recent survey by Gibson Guitars, First Avenue in Minneapolis, Minnesota is “one of the ten greatest rock venues of all time.” Touring artists consistently rank it one of the best places to play, both in the U.S and anywhere in the world. And, as anyone who has seen a show there or performed on its stage will no doubt agree, between its authentic rock ‘n’ roll vibe, sightline-friendly layout, and, of course, its iconic status as the concert venue in “Purple Rain,” First Ave checks all the boxes for what a truly great live performance space should offer … including an exceptional sound system.
Having had an Electro-Voice PA in place for around 20 years, First Ave recently decided to upgrade to new, more efficient technology, and chose to stick with EV to ensure its reputation for superb audio remains intact.
“We are both thrilled and honored to be providing the new sound system for First Avenue,” says Michael Doucot of Electro-Voice, who worked closely with the First Avenue team and St. Paul-based Electro-Voice dealers and installation specialists Metro Sound and Lighting on specifying and installing the new mainroom sound system.
Doucot adds, “It was time to update the Electro-Voice X-Array loudspeaker system that has reliably served the mainroom night after night for the past two decades, upgrading to one of EV’s state-of-the-art XLC line-array systems. The old system was still going strong and sounding great, but it will now be repurposed for stage-fill sound rather than main front-of-house duties.”
The debut of the system with Detroit rockers The Electric Six.
Photo by George Georgallis
“This is a new chapter in a relationship that makes sense for many reasons," Doucot continues. “Like First Ave, Electro-Voice is very proud of the Twin Cities home base upon which its global reputation is built. We design and engineer our microphones, electronics, and loudspeaker systems here in Burnsville, and the touring artists that perform on the mainroom stage – and the audiences at their shows – can continue to expect the best club sound anywhere when they come to First Ave. We work well together, and it feels good to extend this local partnership with a new system that features our latest audio innovations, such as NetMax/IRIS-Net signal processing, which all add up to take the First Ave experience to the next level.”
Not only does the new XLC line-array system more precisely address the mainroom for more even coverage and intelligibility, it’s also driven by the latest Tour Grade series amplifiers, which are both significantly more powerful and more energy efficient than their predecessors – approximately 40% more. Another big change is that there are now loudspeakers covering hard-to-reach spots like the under-balcony areas. These new additions – from the EVF line – will help provide more seamless audio throughout the venue.
Doucot adds: “This was a great team effort: Randy Keeley and his colleagues from Metro, Brad Hertko and the First Ave crew, and our own George Georgallis and Stu Schatz really did an exemplary job installing all the components and fine-tuning the system on a tight deadline – it’s turned out to be one of the best-looking and best-sounding installs any of us have seen. The mainroom has always sounded great, but this new PA is in a league of its own – people are going to be blown away by how good it sounds in there!”