VENUE in Fox Theatre

Since opening in 1929, the Fox Theatre in Redwood City, Calif., has enjoyed a long and storied history as a vaudeville stage and movie theater. These days the landmark venue is perhaps best known as the home of some of the area’s most intimate, comfortable, and best sounding live performances; both the main 1,400-seat Fox Theatre and smaller Little Fox nightclub next door play host to a busy schedule of national and regional acts.

For years, both venues relied primarily on rental gear or the theater’s aging analog console to handle live shows. But recently the Fox Theatre underwent a massive audio makeover to keep pace with a growing demand of artists and events throughout the season, and installed Digidesign® VENUE live sound systems into both venues, with the main theater receiving a new JBL Vertec line array as well. Steve Bauer, systems integrator for both Fox venues, explains that VENUE was the logical choice for a number of reasons.

“We spent quite a bit of time looking into all our options,” said Bauer, who admits to having been an old-school analog fan. “The old arguments about analog sounding better simply don’t hold water anymore, and the many advantages of digital are just a no-brainer. So we looked into all the digital consoles on the market, and VENUE was really the only logical choice.” The Fox Theatre is now outfitted with a VENUE D-Show® system, while the Little Fox received the more compact D-Show Profile™.

Bauer cites the VENUE system’s power and flexibility as major factors in the decision. “The ability to configure the console to fit the needs of the show is a tremendous advantage,” he observed. “Features like snapshots and instant recall are things that make an engineer’s life easier, particularly with a complex show, or an evening where we’ve got multiple acts performing. And the VENUE is really intuitive; even an engineer who’s never used one before is up to speed within a few minutes.”

Both VENUE systems have been well received by virtually every act coming through, according to Bauer. “A few of the old-school analog guys have been a bit hesitant at first, but everyone who’s worked with the VENUE is convinced. Neil Young and Tim Mulligan, his FOH engineer, loved working on it so much that they rented one for the rest of their tour.”

Bauer also notes the VENUE system’s Virtual Soundcheck feature as another big time-saver. “We had Randy Newman in a little over a year ago, and after a short sound check he was happy with his monitors and went for dinner. While he was gone we were able to use Virtual Soundcheck to play with a whole bunch of different compressor plug-ins and decide on what sounded best. After the show, he told us it was some of the best sound he’d ever had. He said it sounded like he was playing in his living room.”

But the VENUE system’s biggest advantages, Bauer says, are its integration with Pro Tools® and depth of plug-in capabilities. “The ability to do a live recording in Pro Tools|HD is great in itself, but the biggest advantage is the sheer range of TDM plug-ins available, both from Digidesign and from third parties. No other system even comes close. And the VENUE runs them all natively. We had racks of great analog gear in here, but really, there would be no way to achieve the same results with conventional gear. If someone asks for 24 compressors, now I can say ‘sure, no problem.’ With the VENUE, we no longer have to make any compromises.”

For more information about the Fox Theatre and Little Fox, visit www.foxdream.com.