PRESENTATION ON A NEW SOUND FORMAT FOR VERY LARGE SCREEN THEATRES AT ICTA IN BARCELONA

On June 18, 2017, John Allen will present a paper entitled NEW SOUND FORMAT FOR VERY LARGE SCREEN THEATRES. This presentation will take place at the International Cinema Technology Association’s annual seminar in Barcelona, Spain.



PRESENTATION ON A NEW SOUND FORMAT FOR VERY LARGE SCREEN THEATRES AT ICTA IN LOS ANGELES

On January 18, 2017, John Allen will present a paper entitled NEW SOUND FORMAT FOR VERY LARGE SCREEN THEATRES. This presentation will take place at the International Cinema Technology Association’s annual seminar at the Hilton Hotel in Universal City, California.



March 9, 2016 Newton MA

A NEW SOUND SYSTEM FOR THE NATIONAL MARINE MUSEUM

High Performance Stereo is pleased to announce that the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation in partnership with the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Triangle, VA, located near the Marine Corps Base Quantico, has selected the HPS-4000® sound system for their new large screen theatre currently under construction. The theatre will boast an 80 foot wide screen that is also 60 feet tall and will be the home of a special new large format film now in production.

Building a sound image big enough for a screen of this size has always presented a challenge for sound systems. In the past most systems have attempted to create tall sound images with a single center speaker high above the main center speaker. While this approach does help, it still fails fill the screen with a wall of sound that stereo is supposed to be.

HPS founder and president John Allen has given this unique problem a fresh look. Maintaining the desired maximum distance between the speakers behind the screen of 15 feet dictates that there be five main speaker systems. This part is not new. It is the same successful approach pioneered in the 1950s with 70 MM film presentations and now sadly all but abandoned. To add this wide sound image a tall vertical dimension, this new sound system will feature five more additional speakers placed 40 feet high.

All the main full range speakers employed behind the screen will be High Performance Stereo’s flagship 545-4 fully horn loaded four-way loudspeakers, each with a continuous acoustic output capability equal to a symphony orchestra. Full horn loading also produces the lowest possible distortion. All the speakers in this system including the surrounds will be built with HPS’s new “Stradivarius” midrange compression drivers. A full ten years in development, these critical sound reproducers are the finest HPS has ever employed.

The subwoofer channel will outfitted with eight 545-W fully horn loaded low frequency systems. This is also the same woofer system used in the 545-4 full rage four-way screen speakers. HPS-4000 sound systems are unique in this way. Using the same woofer cabinet in both the main speaker systems as well as the subwoofers means that the bass will sound the same from every speaker behind the screen. This eliminates the unpleasant “boom box” subwoofer sound so common in today’s cinemas. Each 545-W woofer system is by itself about 12 times more efficient than the typical “boom box” systems. This also translates into about 12 times less distortion.

Adding all this up results in some pretty impressive numbers. The sound systems found in the majority of movie theatres today have a total low frequency radiating area of around 7 1/2 square feet. This is the total area that all the bass speakers combined can have acting on the air in the room. A few theatres may have twice that much. The smallest HPS-4000 systems have a low frequency radiating area of 30 square feet. The larger HPS-4000 systems start at 50 square feet and have been as much as 130 square feet. The total low frequency radiating area of the HPS-4000 sound system at the National Museum of the Marine Corps will be an unprecedented 185 square feet, delivering an acoustic power of 2,576 acoustic watts. To put it another way, this is the equivalent of 36.8 symphony orchestras all playing at once. This system will be by far the most powerful HPS system in the world. Of course no film will ever play so loud. The power of this system simply means that the speakers and amplifiers will just loaf along and never be even slightly strained. The sound will simply be as beautiful and clear as sound can be without a hint of distortion.

Behind this power will be the new VXi balanced-differential amplifiers by BGW Systems of Montebello, California, a division of Amplifier Technologies. The introduction of these amplifiers marks the very first time in the history of audio that this superior type of amplifier has been made for professional installations. Balanced-differential amplifiers are known not only for their incredible speed (transient response) but exceptional clarity due to their low distortion. Amplifier Technologies is the world’s leader in this type of amplifier technology.

High Performance Stereo couldn’t be more proud to be chosen for this special theatre. Opening is expected in 2017.



PRESENTATION ON ACOUSTICS FOR MODERN CINEMAS AT ICTA IN BARCELONA

On June 21, 2016, John Allen will present a paper entitled ACOUSTICS FOR MODERN CINEMAS. This presentation will take place during the Cine Europe convention trade show as part of the International Cinema Technology Association’s annual program in Barcelona, Spain.



PRESENTATION ON “IMMERSIVE” SOUND SYSTEMS AT ICTA IN LOS ANGELES

On January 18, 2016, John Allen will present an updated paper entitled A CANDID DISCUSSION OF “IMMERSIVE” SOUND. This presentation will take place at the International Cinema Technology Association’s annual seminar at the Hilton Hotel in Universal City, California.



FIRST INSTALLATION OF NEW MIDRANGE DRIVERS

R/C Theatres new LEXINGTON EXCHANGE in California, Maryland is the first cinema to be equipped with the new A-55-G low-distortion midrange compression driver. The new drivers, being called the Stradivarius of midrange compression drivers, are installed in cinema one of the 12 screen complex. The LEXINGTON EXCHANGE is also the first multiplex to be entirely equipped with the new VXi immersive amplifiers by BGW.



PRESENTATION ON “IMMERSIVE” SOUND SYSTEMS AT ICTA IN BARCELONA

On June 21, 2015, John Allen will present a paper entitled A CANDID DISCUSSION OF “IMMERSIVE” SOUND. This presentation will take place at the International Cinema Technology Association’s annual seminar in Barcelona, Spain.





FIRST INSTALLATION OF NEW BALANCED-DIFFERENTIAL AMPLIFIERS

On March 4, 2015, Classic Cinemas’ Elk Grove Theatre #10 in Elk Grove Village, Illinois, became the first cinema in the world as well as the first professional sound system of any kind to be equipped with professional balanced-differential power amplifiers. These new amplifiers from BGW Systems are the first professional amplifiers of this advanced type. Balanced-differential amplifiers offer a clarity and speed that is simply not possible with conventional amplifiers, whether they be consumer or professional.

The new BGW VXi “Immersive” power amplifiers were developed in conjunction with High Performance Stereo and feature fully linear power supplies as well as uncompromised Class AB operation. BGW VXi amplifiers will be installed in all future HPS-4000® motion picture sound systems. The first complete cinema complex to be entirely equipped with these spectacular amplifiers will be the R/C Theatres’ Lexington Exchange Movies 12, in California, Maryland, opening later this year.

High Performance Stereo is proud to be the very first to use balanced-differential power amplifiers in modern cinema sound systems.



PRESENTATION ON LOUD MOVIES OR SOUND SYSTEMS AT ICTA IN LOS ANGELES

On January 20, 2015, John Allen will present a paper entitled WHY MOVIES ARE TOO LOUD AT “7” PART TWO. Most believe that it’s the movies themselves that are too loud. This discussion will show why it’s not the movies, but mis-calibration of sound systems in today’s theatres. This presentation will take place at the International Cinema Technology Association’s annual seminar at the Hilton Hotel in Universal City, California. Part one of this paper was presented at last year's ICTA seminar.



PARSON’S EXPO GOES TO THE MOVIES

On November 6, 2014, motion picture sound engineer and noted author John Allen will present a paper entitled WHY MOVIES ARE NOT TOO LOUD. The most common complaint heard from movie theatre goers is that movies are too loud. In recent years these complaints have become something of a chorus. Some have even proposed legislation to regulate the sound levels for films. This discussion will show why it’s not the movies, but rather it’s the movie theatres that are sometimes way too loud. In addition, Mr. Allen will also provide the latest update on the state of the art as well as the state of the market of motion picture sound. This presentation will take place at the Parson’s 2014 Audio Expo held at the Holiday Inn in Dedham, MA.



QUALITY MUSICAL SYSTEMS & HIGH PERFORMANCE STEREO BREAK GROUND FOR FACTORY EXPANSION






Since 2002, Quality Musical Systems of Candler, North Carolina has been the exclusive builder for all speaker systems used in High Performance Stereo’s HPS-4000® motion picture sound systems. QMS is America’s largest provider for custom made loudspeakers. Due to increasing demand for products made at QMS including the HPS® speakers, production has outgrown the space available in the factory. On May 26, 2014, QMS President, Dan Wilson, Vice President Bud Wilson and HPS® President, John Allen broke ground broke ground on an expansion that will more than double the size of the QMS factory.



PRESENTATION ON LOUD MOVIES OR SOUND SYSTEMS AT ICTA IN BARCELONA

On June 15, 2014, John Allen will present a paper entitled WHY MOVIES ARE TOO LOUD AT “7.” Most believe that it’s the movies themselves that are too loud. This discussion will show why it’s not the movies, but mis-calibration of sound systems in today’s theatres. This presentation will take place at the International Cinema Technology Association’s annual seminar in Barcelona, Spain.



GAME CHANGER -- SEE IT AT CINEMACON 2014





PRESENTATION ON LOUD MOVIES OR SOUND SYSTEMS AT ICTA IN LOS ANGELES

On January 15, 2014, John Allen will present a paper entitled WHY MOVIES ARE TOO LOUD AT “7.” Most believe that it’s the movies themselves that are too loud. This discussion will show why it’s not the movies, but mis-calibration of sound systems in today’s theatres. This presentation will take place at the International Cinema Technology Association’s annual seminar at the Hilton Hotel in Universal City, California.



PRESENTATION ON THE PRESENT STATE OF MOTION PICTURE SOUND AT THE 135 TH. CONVENTION OF THE AUDIO ENGINEERING SOCIETY IN NEW YORK CITY

On October 19, 2013, John Allen will chair a workshop panel discussion entitled WHAT'S RIGHT AND WHAT'S WRONG WITH TODAY'S MOTION PICTURE SOUND? at the annual convention of the Audio Engineering Society. In addition to his own presentation on the limitations of sound system measurements, the program will also include presentations from three of the industry's leading figures.



PRESENTATION ON THE PRINCIPLES OF STEREOPHONIC SOUND AT ICTA IN BARCELONA

On June 23, 2013, John Allen will present an expanded paper on the principles of stereo and their relevance to modern motion picture sound. This presentation will take place at the International Cinema Technology Association’s annual seminar in Barcelona, Spain.



PRESENTATION ON THE PRINCIPLES OF STEREOPHONIC SOUND AT ICTA IN LOS ANGELES

On January 15, 2013, John Allen will precede a panel discussion devoted to the proposed 3D cinema sound formats with a presentation on the principles of stereo and their relevance to modern motion picture sound. This presentation will take place at the International Cinema Technology Association’s annual seminar at the Hilton Hotel in Universal City, California.



PRESENTATION ON SOUND SYSTEM MEASUREMENTS AT ICTA IN LOS ANGELES

On January 17, 2012, John Allen will participate in a panel discussion devoted to sound system measurements in motion picture theatres. This presentation will take place at the International Cinema Technology Association’s annual seminar at the Hilton Hotel in Universal City, California.



PRESENTATION ON SOUND SYSTEM MEASUREMENTS AT ICTA IN BELGIUM

On June 26, 2011, John Allen will present an important paper on sound system measurements in modern movie theatres. This presentation will take place at the International Cinema Technology Association’s annual seminar in Liege, Belgium.



PRESENTATION ON WIRING FOR LOUDSPEAKERS AT ICTA IN LOS ANGELES

On January 19, 2011, John Allen will present a paper on recommended wiring for loudspeakers in modern movie theatres. This presentation will take place at the International Cinema Technology Association’s annual seminar at the Hilton Hotel in Universal City, California.



PRESENTATION ON SCREEN EFFECTS AT ICTA IN LOS ANGELES

On January 19, 2010, John Allen will present an important paper on the effects of a movie screen when placed in front of modern loudspeakers. This presentation will take place at the International Cinema Technology Association’s annual seminar at the Hilton Hotel in Universal City, California.



A SPECIAL PRESENTATION ON SOUND SYSTEM MEASUREMENTS AT ICTA IN AMSTERDAM

On June 21, 2009, John Allen will present an important paper on sound system measurements in modern movie theatres. This presentation will take place at the International Cinema Technology Association’s annual seminar in Amsterdam.



A SPECIAL PRESENTATION ON SOUND SYSTEM MEASUREMENTS AT ICTA IN LOS ANGELES

On January 20, 2009, John Allen will present an important paper on sound system measurements in modern movie theatres. This presentation will take place at the International Cinema Technology Association’s annual seminar at the Hilton Hotel in Universal City, California.



FOCUSING MORE THAN EVER ON CUSTOMER SERVICE AND EXPERIENCE, R/C THEATRES OPENS THE WORLD'S MOST ADVANCED THEATRE COMPLEX IN READING, PA, AUGUST 8, 2008.


Designed to be the best possible destination to experience today’s motion pictures, R/C Theatres announces the Reading Movies 11. TEN all Digital Cinema and HPS-4000® sound equipped theatres surrounding a large spectacular IMAX theatre promise a new level of motion picture entertainment for Reading. As one approaches this modern looking building, the first thing that stands out is the large and tall section in the center of the building. This is indeed the centerpiece of this new eleven theatre complex and the home of Reading’s new IMAX theatre.

To download the full press release, click here

To access the FILM JOURNAL INTERNATIONAL article about the Reading cinemas, click here.



SEVERAL HPS-4000 SOUND SYSTEMS RECEIVE DEDICATIONS

In appreciation, eight HPS-4000 sound systems have been dedicated to some special friends. Three of these are in the US and the other five are in Jamaica. Please see the preferred theatres page for details.





JOHN ALLEN ARRANGES IMPORTANT DONATIONS TO THE BOSTON SYMPHONY ARCHIVES






JOHN ALLEN TO SPEAK AT THE AUDIO ENGINEERING SOCIETY AT THE NEW ENGLAND INSTITUTE OF ART


On November 16, 2006 at 7 PM, John Allen will be the guest speaker at the Audio Engineering Society’s student chapter meeting held at the New England Institute of Art in Brookline, Massachusetts. The meeting will begin at 7 PM. Mr. Allen’s topics will include the birth of acoustic science, Boston Symphony Hall and the HPS-4000 motion picture sound system. For further information, click here.







UNITED INTERNATIONAL PICTURES NORWAY CHOOSES HPS-4000®

United International Pictures Norway (UIP) and High Performance Stereo™ are pleased to announce the completion of the installation of a G-Class HPS-4000® sound system in their screening room. The installation was completed by Mr. Torkell Saetervadet, partner in Norsk Kinokonsult of Oslo, Norway.

The G-Class HPS-4000 sound system is the newest from High Performance Stereo.

The UIP installation marks the first of this type system in Europe. The Project 440™ system also boasts the newest Class A/B++ power amplifiers from BGW Systems.

Simon Kvame, UIP Sales Manager, stated that “for UIP, as distributor for Paramount, Universal and Dreamworks films in Norway, screening of films to critics and others plays a central role in the marketing of a film. Therefore it was essential that UIP upgraded its screening room and choose a sound system that gave us top quality as well as that ‘at the movies’ feeling. This we have got with the G-Class HPS-4000 sound system.”

Kvame further stated that another essential element was the installer. “UIP wanted a professional installer who knew their business. This we have had in Norsk Kinokonsult where their technical knowledge and professionalism were key factors in the final choice.”

John Allen, founder and president of High Performance Stereo said “I couldn't be more pleased that UIP has chosen HPS-4000 after considering other sound systems. This installation will allow both UIP personnel as well as others who will use this facility, to hear motion picture soundtracks at a quality that can often be better than that heard in the studios.”









SWEDEN’S ASTORIA KUNGSGATAN THEATRE
GETS A POWERFUL NEW HPS-4000 SOUND SYSTEM




Astoria, Sweden’s second largest theatre circuit, has announced it’s newest HPS-4000 sound system at its newly renovated Astoria Kungsgatan Theatre, formally known as the Royal Theatre. This installation marks the first time an HPS-4000 system utilizing our exclusive center channel array has been built in Europe. See picture above. The array was developed to provide coverage in extremely wide theatres where the front rows of seats are close to the screen.

This installation also marks Astoria’s sixth Project 440™ HPS-4000 system. Astoria’s Kungsgatan Theatre sound system ranks as one of the most powerful in the world with an acoustic output equivalent to 13.2 symphony orchestras.







HIGH PERFORMANCE STEREO INTRODUCES THE NEW 555
In August 1995, High Performance Stereo began the roll out of newly updated loudspeakers for placement behind motion picture screens. At the time we began to discuss a speaker that could provide more output and bigger sound yet remain only two feet deep. After years of exploring various configurations, we are proud to introduce the new 555.

Click here to see the full 555 specification sheet.

Click here to see the new G-Class HPS-4000 sound system.




JOHN ALLEN APPEARS ON “TO THE POINTE”
“To The Pointe” is a program sponsored by the Boston Ballet. Each week various topics concerning the world of dance and performance production are covered. John Allen was asked to discuss his role a sound director for the Company. This can be viewed using Windows Media Player by clicking here.




PRESENTATION ON MOVIE THEATRE ACOUSTICS AT ITEA

On January 11, 2005, John Allen will present an important paper on the acoustics of modern movie theatres. This presentation will take place at the International Theatre Equipment Association’s annual seminar at the Sheraton Universal Hotel in Universal City, California.




EUROPE’S FIRST PROJECT 440™ HPS-4000® THEATRES.

Europe’s first Project 440 HPS-4000 theatres have now opened.

The first is in the Biopalatset theatre number 1 in Stockholm, Sweden. This complex is owned and operated by Astoria Cinemas, Sweden’s second largest cinema circuit. The upgrade to this theatre begins an ambitious project, headed by Patrik Becker, to upgrade the presentation levels in Sandrew Metronome’s theatres throughout the country.

With an acoustic output equivalent to 22 3/4 symphony orchestras, the XL-class sound system in Biopalatset #1 now takes its place as the most powerful HPS-4000 sound system in the world. The installation features five of our flagship 545-4 four-way speakers behind the screen in an All Seats Hear Stereo™ configuration, along with eight of the HPS-4000 545-W.5 subwoofer cabinets. The system is capable of presenting Sony’s SDDS eight channel digital soundtracks.

The speakers are powered by BGW Systems’s new and incredible VX-440-HPS power amplifiers -- the finest sounding amplifiers we have ever heard. All future HPS-4000 theatres in Sweden will also be project 440 installations as well.

Asker, Norway is the site of that country’s latest HPS-4000 theatres. This new five-plex is operated by Mr. Petter Vennerød and was designed by Mr. Torkell Saetervadet of Norsk Kinokonsult AS in Oslo. This is the second HPS-4000 equipped complex in Norway operated by Mr. Vennerød.

The Asker theatres feature one M-class HPS-4000 system with our 545-3 screen speakers, and four S-class systems with our 525 screen speakers. The large M-class system is also equipped for playback of Sony’s eight channel SDDS soundtracks. All five theatres feature the HPS-4000 All Seats Hear Stereo™ sound coverage.

All five theatres are equipped the the new BGW VX-440-HPS amplifiers, marking Norway’s first Project 440 installations.




HIGH PERFORMANCE STEREO™ AND QMS
ROLL OUT FIRST OF THE NEW 545-4 FOUR-WAY LOUDSPEAKERS


On May 12, 2003, the completion of the first new 545-4 four-way screen speaker systems was marked with a ribbon cutting at Quality Musical System’s plant in Candler, North Carolina. Since January, 2002, QMS has been the exclusive manufacturer of all HPS-4000® loudspeakers.

Our four-way systems have been our flagship design for many years. The first 545-4 built by QMS features high frequency horns created by a new low pressure molding technique that provides high quality results at a more economical cost and eliminates the messy fiberglass process that has been used in the past.

All the component parts of the 545-4 as well as all the High Performance Stereo™ loudspeakers are cut out on QMS’ new state of-the-art computer controlled router, assuring unexcelled consistency and proper fit.

This 545-4 has been built for the Art Theatre, located in Champaign, Illinois. The Art Theatre was recently taken over by Mr. Greg Boardman, owner of the Lorraine Theatre in Hoopeston, Illinois. Boardman has become an ardent supporter of the HPS-4000® sound systems.

The ribbon was cut by QMS President, Dan Wilson and Vice President, Tom Wilson, (second and third from from left respectively) flanked by John F. Allen on the far left and Dan Taylor on the right.




HARRY ELLIS DICKSON, 1909-2003

The Boston music community has lost one of its most popular and beloved figures. Associate Conductor of the Boston Pops and violinist of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Harry Ellis Dickson has died at the age of 94.

I was pleased to know Harry for almost 30 years. It is not well known, but a chance meeting with Harry at Symphony Hall in 1975 ultimately led to the founding of this company and the development of the HPS-4000® motion picture sound system.

It was at a production meeting for the July 4, 1975 Pops concert on Boston’s Esplanade. I had been asked to help with the cannons for the performance of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture. When Harry joined the meeting, he just happened to sit next to me. In the ensuing discussion, he complained about the horrible sound system at the Hatch Shell. When I said that I didn’t think that the State (of Massachusetts) was interested in doing anything about it, he interrupted and said that Mike (Dukakis -- Harry’s father-in-law and Governor at the time) wanted it done.

That’s all I needed to hear. Later that summer I did some experiments and proved that stereo could work there. The next year, 1976, I was awarded the contract to design and install a new sound system at the Esplanade. In addition to performing the sound mixing for the July 4, 1976 Bicentennial Boston Pops concert that summer, the system proved so successful that I was asked to mix all the concerts and performances. I did so for the next five years.

The Esplanade system was one of the largest stereo systems ever built in New England. It was during those years that I gained the experience with such a powerful system that allowed the development of the HPS-4000® sound system for movie theatres.

I will be forever grateful for that chance meeting so long ago. I was privileged to be one of Harry’s countless friends for the next 28 years.

John F. Allen
March 30, 2003





HPS-4000® WEB SITE DOWNLOADS HIT NEW RECORD

Since this web site was established in 1999, visitors have downloaded articles at the rate of about 2200 to 2500 per month. Recently, this number has increased to about 3500 per month. We are pleased to note that during the month of January 2003, the number of articles downloaded exceeded 4900 for the first time.




REMEMBERING THE WAIKIKI THEATRES

On November 20, 2002, Hawaii’s Consolidated Amusements, a subsidiary of Pacific Theatres, announced the closing of the Waikiki Theatres. The original Waikiki Theatre opened on Kalakaua Avenue in the 1930s. The theatre was 130 feet long, 85 feet wide and seated over 1200. It became Waikiki #3 when the “Twins”, the Waikiki Theatres 1 and 2, were opened around the corner on Seaside Avenue. The twins were 110 feet long, 85 feet wide and each seated about 900. Both theatres had 55 foot curved screens. Waikiki #3 was completely renovated in 1983. At that time the first HPS-4000® sound system in Hawaii was installed. This was also the first 70 MM installation I participated in. The new sound system proved so impressive, it was front page news.

At the time of the installation, BLUE THUNDER was playing in 70 MM in Waikiki Theatre #2. The theatre was still equipped with its original Altec A-4X speakers. The 70 MM image quality was superb. The sound in #2 was considered state-of-the-art prior to the introduction of the HPS-4000® system, and was quite impressive. Until I heard the new system in #3 for myself, I thought the sound in #2 would be hard to beat. When we finally got the new system in Waikiki #3 completed, we brought over the 35 MM backup print of BLUE THUNDER. Though only a 35 MM Dolby “A” optical soundtrack, the 35 MM print sounded better in theatre #3 than did the 70 MM magnetic print in theatre #2.

This came as such a surprise to Consolidated’s executives that they held an urgent meeting the next morning and immediately decided to upgrade the twins to HPS-4000® as soon as possible. That upgrade saw the first use of our 4-way screen speakers in Hawaii. A few years later Waikiki #3 was also upgraded to 4-way screen speakers. At that point, all three theatres were equipped with our XL-class HPS-4000® system. No other location in the world ever had three such installations until Consolidated opened Honolulu’s Ward 16 in 2001. The Ward opened with four XL-class 8-channel HPS-4000® sound systems.

When digital soundtracks became available, DTS was installed in #3. Dolby Digital was later installed in theatres 2 and 3. SDDS was installed in Waikiki 1 and 2. In 1999, these two sound systems were also upgraded to 8-channels.

Many people felt that these three theatres were the best sounding theatres to be found anywhere. I certainly felt a great satisfaction with the sound we achieved in these rooms. Like everyone else who attended films at the Waikiki Theatres, I had the sense that there was no better way to see and hear a film. This was also due, in no small part, to the exceptional installation and maintenance quality provided by Consolidated’s Wesley Inouye and later Scott Bosch as well as Alan Sakaida. The projectionists were also outstanding. I don’t think I ever saw so much as a small scratch on the screen at these theatres. The twin theatres were very large stadium seat theatres. Their ceiling heights were low enough to require the surround speakers to be divided into both rear and side groups. In addition, the front floor areas were covered by a third group of specially made high output surround speakers. These were the only surround arrays ever to incorporate these higher output units. All three surround groups were on different delays to ensure a complete surround effect anywhere in the theatre. Following the 1999 upgrade of Waikiki 1 and 2, these systems became the most powerful in the world, with a acoustic power output equal to 14 1/2 symphony orchestras, or about 1015 acoustic watts. At the time only one HPS-4000® system had ever been built with more power. At an output of 1400 acoustic watts, or about 20 symphony orchestras, the HPS-4000® system at Jamaica’s Carib theatre remains one of the largest ever built. (The Carib suffered a major fire in 1996 and was rebuilt as a 5-plex.)

The loss of the Waikiki theatres is a very sad event indeed. These theatres have been a cornerstone of the culture in Honolulu and a part of the lives of everyone who ever attended. The closure of such well loved theatres is something people remember. But it also comes as no surprise. The construction of over 40 new screens in Honolulu in the past 15 years has made it easier to get to a theatre without the need to travel into the Waikiki district. The closure of these theatres became a matter of time. Under the circumstances. I think it’s really a tribute to Pacific and Consolidated that these theatres remained open as long as they did. I know that the decision to close them was a difficult one.

I suppose that Waikiki #3 will remain one of my favorite theatres of all time. Historic theatres have a special ambience that one becomes attached to and proud to be part of. I used to make an effort to go in every Friday and Saturday night, when I was there, to hear Bob Alder play the organ before the shows. I have seen all three theatres with sellout crowds. It’s quite a sight as well as exciting to witness so many people having a great time. The customers never knew I was there, of course. But I enjoyed knowing that I was contributing to their lives.

I shall never forget the Waikiki theatres and the fun I had there. Because of the significance of these theatres, and so that those interested may continue to access the pictures of these great movie houses, the full size pictures of these theatres are are now available by clicking on the images shown here.

John F. Allen
November 24, 2002






On the importance of sound and image quality: DINOSAUR

I have had the opportunity to compare the film DINOSAUR in two similar theatres. The first presentation used the Texas Instruments DLP digital projection system. The sound system in this theatre was much better than average. Having said that, it should be noted that the sound portion of this DLP installation was rather "incomplete" in some respects. The surrounds either worked or didn't, depending on the operator's luck when the system was turned on. There was also an annoying hum and an excessive 350 millisecond surround delay causing a pronounced echo in the theatre. Fortunately, the hum was mostly masked by the soundtrack and could be "filtered out" for the purposes of watching the presentation.

Without exception, both I and the people I was with were impressed with the image quality of the digital projection. The light source was a 6000 watt console. The image was rock steady, of course, and the vivid reds in the color were reminiscent of the old Technicolor IB prints of the past. Contrast and resolution were very good. It was an excellent image.

The cost of the digital projection system varies depending on who you talk to. Typically, figures of $160,000.00 to $440,000.00 are offered. So one must ask the tough question concerning such an investment: Is it worth the money? I think it depends. If it sells a substantially greater number of tickets, it could well be worth it. But if one looks at the cost-benefit ratio of this system in terms of image quality, and further compares a digital projection system with a 35 MM film projection system using the same 6000 watt light source, a slower studio lens with a substantially greater depth of field, an electronic intermittent movement and perhaps a triple-bladed shutter as well, I suspect that the film image resulting from such a setup would be significantly better, at a fraction of the cost.

In addition, digital projection is not without artifacts. Several times during the digital presentation, I was startled by the sudden blurring of objects and backgrounds in motion. I am never startled by this when watching film. Blurring of elements in film is smoother in its onset and completion. Obviously, I have become more accustomed to it. But, it was more noticeable with the digital system.

With respect to the sound presentation in the two theatres, I was not prepared for the emotional impact I was about to experience during the second viewing. Again, without exception, both I and the people I was with (all professionals) were unimpressed with the DINOSAUR mix as heard over the better than average sound system. We talked specifically about the "lack of punch" and the "lifeless sound." Indeed, one of the gentlemen there remarked that someone else had commented to him about the "lack of dynamics and punch" in the soundtrack, upon seeing this film in another theatre. When the credits rolled, we ignored them, as most often happens, and began to talk and walk around. I liked the music, but was not overly impressed, with the exception of the occasional moment when I thought that the music sounded interesting, but too much in the background. I liked the movie, but did not feel that I needed to see it again, even though the animation was so outstanding.

After seeing the digital presentation, I decided to watch DINOSAUR again in my reference HPS-4000® theatre. I was curious to know what it would sound like. The sound was played in the SDDS format. In a few words, I was stunned by the difference. From the beginning, I was drawn into the sound and especially the music. It was similar to listening to a great symphony in a concert hall. I didn't want it to end. I cared more about the characters. The sound was very dynamic and had plenty of the kind of punch that had been so absent in the other theatre. The music sparkled. I wanted to know who wrote it (James Newton Howard). I wanted to buy the soundtrack CD. When the credits rolled, I stayed and listened to the very end. If I had had the time, I would have watched the film again, maybe even twice, I loved it so.

The projected 35 MM film picture was less bright than the digital image. Yet the film presentation had a far greater impact on me because the sound was so much better. I sometimes felt startled and scared during the film presentation versus feeling almost bored during the digital projection presentation. It was a totally different movie. When I got home, I couldn't sleep, still thinking about the wonderful experience that this film had been the second time.

In short, I was reminded once again about the greater importance of sound quality over anything else when presenting motion pictures. As exhibitors face the task of returning the industry to profitability, I think it's well to ask what the presentation priorities should be. If without the opportunity to compare it to an optimized 35 MM projected image, the public becomes convinced that digital projection is superior, and it becomes necessary to invest huge sums to equip theatres, it seems to me that seriously upgrading the sound systems becomes even more critical. An improved image quality notwithstanding, without the kind of beauty one can experience with a superior sound presentation, going to movie theatres will not be attractive enough to the numbers of customers needed to make a profit.

John F. Allen




HPS-4000® AMPLIFIER POWER MANUAL UPDATED

The HPS-4000® power amplifier requirements book for motion picture sound systems has been updated with the inclusion of some of the most current theatre speakers. It can be downloaded from the SPECIAL ARTICLES section of the ARTICLES & PAPERS page.




NATIONAL PARK SERVICE SCHEDULES MORE HPS-4000® INSTALLATIONS

Since 1994, the HPS-4000® motion picture sound system has become the standard for the National Park Service theatres. The selection of the HPS-4000® system followed an extensive evaluation in which loudspeakers from over 20 different manufacturers were tested and auditioned.

The first installation of an HPS-4000® system in a National Park Service facility was in Salem, Massachusetts. Later installations followed in San Antonio, Texas, Scranton, Pennsylvania, the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor in Honolulu, Hawaii and most recently at Great Smoky Mountain National Park in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

In recent weeks, the Park Service has begun working with High Performance Stereo on five new projects including four new theatres. A new captioning and descriptive video system developed at Boston’s WGBH will be installed in the two existing theatres at the USS Arizona Memorial. The four new theatres will be in Alaska, California and two in Dayton, Ohio.

In addition to the installations of the HPS-4000® sound systems, High Performance Stereo™ will also be responsible for creating the final print masters for each of the new programs that will be produced for the theatres. This step ensures that the soundtracks for every program exhibited in a National Park HPS-4000® theatre will be of the highest quality. The HPS-4000® sound system was created in 1980 by High Performance Stereo™ of Newton, Massachusetts. With installations in many of the best presentation cinemas around the world, the HPS-4000® is considered by many as the finest sound system ever developed for motion picture theatres.