Thanks for the responses so far. Could you tell me if the PA was stacked or if it was a line array? If it was an array, was it high enough or just the layout of the theater not good for the PA?
I would like to build a venue in my area. I know some of the things I want to do. There are a lot of things that still need to be worked out. That is why I am asking all of you out there what your experiences have been out there. Hopefully I can avoid a lot of issues. Much work to do yet.
It really all depends on the hang and geometry of the balcony. The house I used to tech at had its "house mix position" in the front row of the balcony. It was a 2000ish seat house with little over a 1000 in the orchestra level and right at 1000 in the balcony. The PA was twin Meyer M2D linearrays with 8 cabinets per side. The front row of the balcony was about the same height as the middle of the array so the Mix position actually gave a very good representation of the PA/Room combination. The only real downside was you could not quickly run up and listen to the front fills.
That same venue had 2 "road mix positons" one under the balc at the rear of the house, the other directly under and slightly in front of the balcony rail. The under balcony position had a very clear sight line to the bottom of the array, and no under balcony fills were used. With the house empty the rear position was very "harsh" and nasty in the 6k+ and the subs were very loose sounding. However once "water bags" filled the house the PA actually cleaned up nicely. Most of the harshness went away, and the bass improved, but was not perfect.
The front mix position was "visually appealing" to most FOH techs as it was "not in or under the balcony." However with being right in front of the balcony rail, and the weird geometry of the front of the balcony, there was tremendous slap back and incredible harshness in anything HF. Even with people in the house the situation did not improve. The bass was very very tight, and walking a few feet in front of the mix position did yield a large improvement in true representation.
The only good part about putting FOH in that location was less patrons would be sitting in that location, and less would be subject to that acoustic mess.
It was funny, any tech that did end up there (mostly against my advise) as soon as they made noise in the PA they would make massive cuts in the house Graphic, and immediately recognize my advise did have some merit.
Some house guys actually do know there houses very well.... =) and continually fight to remedy situations like this, but absorption or reflection can only do so much and sometimes physics wins.
After being in that house for a while, I learned I will not judge a position simply by in or under a balcony. Each room is different.