New Orleans, LA (March 22, 2023)—They say that age is only a number, and while that axiom wasn’t invented with movie theaters in mind, it still applies to the Prytania Theatre in New Orleans. In continuous operation since 1914, the movie house—the last single-screen commercial theater in the South—may offer something of a retro experience, but it is not a relic. As if to underscore that fact, the venue recently got a massive tech upgrade, bringing in 4K laser digital projection and Dolby Atmos. immersive audio powered by Meyer Sound cinema series loudspeakers
In some ways, the Prytania Theatre in New Orleans harkens back to a bygone era. It has been in continuous operation as a neighborhood movie house since 1914, and it is the last remaining single-screen commercial theater in the South. But while the interior décor evokes the mid-20th century heyday of Hollywood, a recent technology upgrade has launched the Prytania Theatre into the future with 4K laser digital projection and Dolby Atmos immersive audio powered by Meyer Sound cinema series loudspeakers.
The Prytania Theatre now sports a Barco SP4K 15C 4K laser projector and the Dolby CP950A Dolby Atmos audio system comprising 51 Meyer Sound self-powered loudspeakers. The entire technology renovation was entrusted to Omaha-based Strong Technical Services.
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“We had put in a new Dolby CP650 7.1 system after hurricane Katrina in 2007 and it worked fine,” reflects second-generation owner Robert Brunet, “but after the pandemic faded, we really wanted to offer our patrons something special—the best of the best. We knew Atmos was the way to go, and we also wanted a speaker system with the power and punch to take full advantage of the format. I was familiar with Meyer Sound equipment for live performances, and when I found out they had cinema systems, I knew that would be the winning combination. It certainly did not disappoint.”
The first showing with the new system was Top Gun: Maverick. The sonic improvement was startling, according to Brunet. “Our post-Katrina system was quite good, but the new Meyer Sound system just blew it away,” he recalls. “What I heard with that movie pushed every button. When the jets flew by, the building literally shook, yet you also heard every detail with clarity and pinpoint positioning. It was very impressive.”
The clarity and dynamic range also enhanced quieter scenes, says Brunet. “A lot of times a powerful system can be too bright in scenarios with mainly dialogue, but the Meyer Sound system was clear and natural, never fatiguing. When you need it to bang, it will do it, but with dialogue, the accuracy and fidelity shine through.”
The screen channels for the system employ three Acheron Studio cinema loudspeakers, with four X-800C cinema subwoofers driving the low-frequency effects (LFE) channel. The Atmos surround channels are carried by 32 HMS-10 and two HMS-12 surround loudspeakers, bolstered by two USW-210P subwoofers for bass management. Fill speakers for the balcony, configured in two zones, are eight MM-4XP miniature self-powered loudspeakers.
While Top Gun: Maverick showcased special effects, two later showings — Elvis and Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance with Somebody — shifted the emphasis to musicality. “These days, when we play a movie like Top Gun or Elvis, we get a lot more positive comments,” says Brunet. “‘The sound is really great,’ they’ll say. ‘What did you do in here?’”