November 2007 - Pontiac, near Detroit: a $3 million refurbishment of The Crofoot Building has provided the context for an
innovative sound reinforcement installation, pairing for the first time a McCauley Sound Monarc line array system with Vortex
amplifiers from the German manufacturer CAMCO.
In 1882, Michael E. Crofoot rebuilt one of Pontiac's earliest commercial buildings which was first put into service in 1830 at
Pontiac's first corner at Pike and Saginaw. A chequered history meant that, as recently as 2005, The Crofoot was condemned and
slated for demolition. Developer Blair McGowan, a veteran of Metro Detroit's entertainment scene, has breathed life into the
location after a massive 18-month refurbishment programme. Now a live music venue, the Crofoot will initially present alternative
rock/emo but, with its own in-house booking agent Greg Baise, future performances could equally well be jazz or country
Long-time sound engineer and system installer Chris Panachia had collaborated with the Crofoot's owner Blair McGowan for 25
years. With a substantial track record in fitting out Detroit clubs such as the Magic Stick and St Andrews Hall, he was
commissioned to design a system for the new Crofoot stage.
"I looked at all the PA systems on the market - JBL, EAW, L'Acoustic, etcetera. McCauley Sound had a really neat package, but,
above all, the company impressed me with its 'Mom 'n' Pop' attitude to my project; they were never too busy, they answered every
phone call. I worked closely with Bruce Anderson, who came out to Pontiac for 5 days, and together we read the room right - it
was an outstanding partnership."
In the 1150-capacity venue, squarely shaped with a large balcony, Panachia has installed a McCauley Monarc system, with 8 MLA3
cabinets comprising each left and right array. Flown from the 22' ceiling height, the top half of the arrays provide coverage for
the balcony area, while the lower cabinets are aimed at the ballroom. 12 McCauley CSM88 subwoofers are under the stage,
isolation-mounted on neoprene rubber to eliminate vibration.
The system is powered by a relative newcomer to the fixed installation scene in the US - the Vortex Series from the specialist
manufacturer CAMCO. Panachia keeps an open mind about equipment brands when he is designing a system, and has specified all types
of PA for his club projects in Detroit. "It depends on the venue, what bands are going to use it, what consoles they will
have. The Crofoot will accommodate the more discerning and demanding engineers, so we've put in a system that is better than
anyone could possibly want - it's everything you need, and then some."
To fulful this spec, he has opted for "the Bentley of amplifiers", which came highly recommended by Detroit area sound rental
company, Thunder Audio. Panachia A/B'd the Vortex against a prominent American-made alternative, and found them to be "just
tremendous; they seemed to be cleaner, with more punch and more clarity, and held the power supply a lot better. The amp room at
the Crofoot will stop a bus going 50 miles an hour! Touring engineers recognise the racks immediately."
Panachia acknowledges that the system represents "a lot of PA for a room that size, but we've done that more for coverage than
anything else. Wherever you are in the room, you hear the same thing. This monstrous and beautiful PA and the Vortex amps go
together so well. Typically we will run at 110dB, although our system trials were done quite comfortably at 126dB and then it
went off the meter!"
CAMCO products are sold by Ashly Audio, and, as with McCauley Sound, Panachia was knocked out by the customer service that
supported his amplifier purchase. "The team at Ashly was so helpful when I was installing the system. The CAMCO amps were more
than twice the price of some of the other deals, but none of them could give me the punch, the clarity or the 6-year
Completing the system, the Crofoot is equipped with two 48-channel Yamaha MC7L digital consoles for front-of-house and monitor
Tel: 585 872 0010
Chris Panackia, Daniel Casado and Bruce Anderson
The Crofoot stage in action
Chris Panackia setting up the SM72-2's
The Vortex amps are just tremendous; they seemed to be cleaner, with more punch and more clarity, and held the
power supply a lot better. The amp room at the Crofoot will stop a bus going 50 miles an hour!
|Chris Panackia, Crofoot Ballroom|