Paramount looking at updating sound system

Published 5:13 pm Saturday, October 19, 2013

For the past few years, the Austin Area Commission for the Arts has struggled with consistency of the sound at the Historic Paramount Theatre.

The sound at some events is excellent, while others it has been so loud that patrons have left at intermission. Part of our struggle is the space itself.

The beauty of an atmospheric theater is that it provides natural surround sound-like qualities perfect for movies, but this same quality makes amplifying the performing arts a challenge.

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There are ways to work around the space issues with the right equipment. Which leads to our other issue, our sound equipment. Over the years, the speakers have been slowly dying to the point where we are now renting speakers. Our sound mixer is about 25 years old and several of the channels no longer function. We also only have two functioning wireless microphones.

Needless to say, we have found ourselves in a somewhat desperate situation. In fact, I recently received an email from Wade Nelson, a loyal concerned patron. After commenting on some issues he heard at the Dakota Dave Hull performance and the Caravan du Nord last Friday night, he summed it up best by saying, “Please spend some time to find the problem and correct it. The artist deserves a good working sound system and moreso the paying audience.”

After conferring with several sound experts, we have decided to hire Mark Blise from Imagery Sound to fix the issue. He has put together an inventory of equipment we need to improve the situation. Of course, as most Austinites know, we are in a time crunch to ensure the system is in place for the Michael Veldman and Friends Holiday Show.

The estimate he gave us is $16,000, quite reasonable for what we need. He is also volunteering his time to install it, so that just covers the cost of the equipment. We are also putting in a proposal to The Hormel Foundation to hopefully get some support.

If you would be willing to help us with this cause, please feel free to send a check to the Historic Paramount Theatre, 125 4th Ave NE, Austin, MN. Or you can even call the theatre at 434-0934 and make a donation over the phone with a credit card.