The Lobero Theater is California’s oldest continuously operating theater. Originally founded in 1873 and rebuilt in 1924, it is recognized as one of Santa Barbara’s architectural jewels and a state and city landmark. In 1984 the theater engaged Marshall Long Acoustics to help with the renovation of the sound system. The requirements were stringent because of the theater's designation as an historical structure. No speakers were allowed to be visible, and the ornate ceiling had to remain visually untouched.
We designed a speaker system to be mounted above two sections of the molded ceiling. The interior panels of each were replaced with perforated metal, which was then painted in trompe l' oeil fashion to blend seamlessly into the adjacent area. These were angled up toward the rear so that the speakers could face the audience at right angles to the metal panel. The open portion was used for additional lighting instruments. The result was a solution that was aesthetically consistent with the historical nature of the building and one that gave even coverage to the audience area.