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Idaho State University Jensen Grand Concert Hall receives audio system, lighting upgrades to the tune of more than $500,000

Photo of two technicians working on the installation of new sound system.
Left, Jim Jorgensen from Martin Audio, and Jake Peery, with Performance Audio, monitoring the new audio system being installed in the ISU Stephens Performing Arts Center Jensen Grand Concert Hall.

POCATELLO – Idaho State University’s state-of-the-art Joseph C. and Cheryl H. Jensen Grand Concert Hall has received Martin Audio sound system and LED lighting upgrades to the tune of more than $500,000.

             A new Martin Audio MLA (Multi-cellular Loudspeaker Array) sound system was installed and commissioned this August in the L.E. and Thelma E. Stephens Performing Arts Center’s Jensen Hall.

“This is the most cutting edge, new technology that there is out there,” said Bill Stanton, Stephens Performing Arts Center building facilities foreman. “Martin Audio is at the forefront of technological advancement. They are doing things that really suit the concert hall that other systems couldn’t.”

Both Stanton and Rob Hofkamp, director of Martin Audio U.S. Operations, said the new system would make it so an audience member will hear the same high-quality sound at any seat in the venue.

“With Martin Audio’s breakthrough cellular drive technology, patrons at concerts can enjoy a much better experience than they’ve ever had,” Hofkamp said. “In simple, layperson terms, the difference between the old audio system and the newly installed Martin Audio system is like going from an old black-and-white TV to a new 4k-resolution flat panel model––it’s that much of a quantum leap in technology.”

The new system is controlled by sophisticated software and can be programmed to best fit the size of the audience and type of music or production being performed.

The original sound system installed in Jensen Hall was about 11 years old.

“Usually you get about 10 years out of a sound system, but this new one is so cutting edge we hope to get 15 years out of it,” Stanton said. “Now we have a sound system that is designed correctly for the hall that is highly technologically advanced. We can meet the sound needs of anyone who comes in to perform.”

The new sound system, installed by Performance Audio out of Salt Lake City, was purchased with gifts from the Bistline Foundation and with ISU internal funds.

Late last spring new LED lighting and fixtures were installed over Jensen Hall stage, which will be another giant improvement for patrons. The new LED lighting replaces the conventional lighting that was originally installed in the Hall. The new fixtures use one-third less power and generate much less heat.

More importantly, the LED lighting system is much more versatile than the old lighting.

“We were extremely limited with what we could do with the old light fixtures,” Stanton said. “With the new ones we have remote control so we can change the color of any fixture to any color at any time during a show.  The new ones can also be easily moved around or they can be taken down easily if an act has their own lighting.”

Since the new lighting uses less energy and creates far less heat, ISU will save on power and air-conditioning costs. The old light bulbs cost about $15 a piece and had to be replaced frequently. The new LED fixtures will last 10 or more years before they need replaced.           

“We are light years ahead, excuse the pun, ahead of what we can offer to visiting acts with the new lighting and sound systems we’ve installed,” Stanton said.

The new lighting purchase was funded largely through money ISU Facilities Services had for energy efficiency upgrades.




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