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the canto usa blog

UNCG Organ Recital Hall and the Birth of the RETRO-Passive Series

Jason Reeves

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June 15, 2021

It’s often said, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” This is most definitely true of how our RETRO-Passive® series came about. One job’s requirements made us push the limits further on what our RETRO’s are capable of doing.

The University of North Carolina in Greensboro has a 130-seat Organ Recital Hall which provides an intimate atmosphere, featuring a stunning 35-rank pipe organ made by the Andover Organ Company of Massachusetts. The recital hall also had plenty of old 1000 watt par lamp fixtures that were outdated. They weren’t getting the efficiency they needed from them. Lamps were constantly needing to be replaced. The heat issues from them were also getting in the way of tuning and performances. In 2017 it clearly became time to take advantage of the energy savings and longer lifespan of an LED upgrade.

This was not an easy chore though. The room is also acoustically isolated from the main building. Theatre Consultants Collaborative, who designed and specified the project directed the installer, Bandit Lites, to not add any additional conduits if possible. As such, everything had to dim via line voltage smoothly. The acoustic floor of the organ hall is also near zero, so any fan-cooled LED fixtures were out of the question.

Canto USA’s RETRO series was an easy answer for a dimmable LED retrofit that dims via line voltage. Usually, the RETRO-Classic™ or RETRO-Fusion™ is quiet enough for most venues, but this was a special case. Even the small fans on Classics could be heard on the floor at less than 5 db. Never to back down from a challenge, Canto USA started to work on developing a solution. Our 150’s are fanless but we needed to develop something brighter and this would require a much larger heat sink to dissipate the heat. This project is where our entire RETRO-Passive series came from. We were able to redevelop our RETRO-Classic 700’s into RETRO-Passive 700’s required for the project. The Passives produced no sound in the hall, absolutely 0 db on the floor.

With a solution in hand, Bandit began pulling wire, installing new controls, and replacing fixtures. Dark Lite recessed cans that used Par64 lamps were customized with the adapter rings and RETROs. They also customized uplight sconces with the already passive-cooled 150s, remoting the driver assembly to keep the profile low in the sconce. These were much brighter than the quartz they removed and had a wider distribution pattern that looked great on the walls. The RETRO series fit in perfectly, replicating the previous warm Par64 light and output. The smooth dimming and even wash were a perfect match/retrofit. The room was brighter, smoother, and cooler for performers and patrons. Altogether, the project took them about one month to complete.

“The RETRO has been one of our bullet-proof fixtures on the job,” said Andrew Fisher of Bandit Lites. “We haven’t been back to touch those fixtures and appreciate the support of Canto USA on the project!”

UNCG Organ Recital Hall Blog Article Photo
UNCG Recital Hall with RETRO-Passive 700’s installed inside recessed PAR cans.
UNCG Organ Recital Hall Blog Article PAR Photo
View of RETRO-Passive 700’s inside recessed PAR cans.
UNCG Organ Recital Hall Blog Article Sconce Photo
Customized uplight sconces with RETRO-Passive 150s remoting the driver assembly to keep a low profile.


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