Backstage Stories

State of the Art Venue

December 18, 2023

State of the Art Venue



The Sound of Music

If you’ve ever been to a show and couldn’t hear the dialogue well or seen a concert where the acoustics are no better than your car stereo, you know how important sound quality is to the overall experience. The Granada Theatre knows it, too, which is why the performing arts center boasts one of the best sound systems in the state.

This wasn’t always the case in the historic theater.

“The Granada has an interesting shape with a large orchestra section and large balcony. Our previous audio systems had difficulty covering it adequately,” explained David Johnson, Vice President of Operations and Productions at The Granada Theatre.

During a tour of The Granada, former board member Allen Sides, legendary multi-Grammy award-winning engineer, producer and founder of Ocean Way Audio, thought he could solve the acoustic problems the theater struggled with in the past.

Sides had worked on a variety of commercial installations before, including George Lucas’s Skywalker Ranch scoring stage, and private sound stages for artists like Lady Gaga and Gwen Stefani.

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Reimagining the Sound System

“When Allen came in, he said, ‘What you need is more of a point source — the speakers you are using are fighting with each other and the engineer can’t hear what is happening or trust what he is hearing,'” said Johnson. “He explained that instead of the standard line array speakers, we needed a design that would mimic a single speaker.”

Working with his team at Ocean Way Audio, Sides reimagined what a theater sound system was and created the AeroWave® system. The Granada is the first theater in the world to use this innovative sound system.

“This is undoubtedly one of the greatest venues in California,” said Sides. “With this audio system, we believe we have created something here that is unique and sets this theater apart.”

Traditional theater line array systems aren’t able to distribute 90 degrees of audio both horizontally and vertically, which this system does. With sound able to go wide and high, every seat in The Granada enjoys the same quality sound. Additionally, the system is very nimble and can support all types of performing arts programming from a rock concert to the Santa Barbara Symphony or Opera.

“What Allen did was create a series of speakers that acts as one speaker due to the design,” explained Johnson.


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Audience Experience

The revolutionary AeroWave® debuted at The Granada in 2021.

“The three things an audience will notice are incredible clarity and definition, no matter where you sit,” Sides said. “The second thing is that everyone – no matter where they are sitting, will hear exactly the same sound. The last thing is that it is musical, fun to listen to, and not harsh.”

No matter where you are in the theater, you’ll have great stereo imaging. The sound at all frequencies is clear in both the house and on stage for the performers.

“People don’t talk about the speakers, but they do tell me that the experience is fantastic no matter where they sit for a show,” said Johnson. “The fidelity and clarity are exquisite. The AeroWave® solved so many problems.”