After three years of dedicated effort to establish itself as a premier venue for DJ talent from around the world, San Francisco–based Mezzanine wanted to start competing for top-name live acts. To do this, the club hired production manager Josh Roberts (Ben Harper, Beth Orton, King Crimson, Meat Beat Manifesto, among others). One of his first to-do items, Roberts brought in an entirely different sound system.
"We had a four-way Funktion One loudspeaker system that delivered great highs and lows, but they lacked the midrange required for live concert sound," says Roberts. "Besides, it's unnatural to watch a band onstage and have sound coming at you from all around. What we really needed was a left/right stereo setup that would deliver the proper imaging and coverage."
Due to the very challenging shape of Mezzanine's main room, Roberts sought the assistance of Mike Lacina, owner of San Francisco–based JK Sound. Lecina says, "The club's size and lack of symmetry posed serious challenges in loudspeaker system design."
Mezzanine's main room is long and narrow, with 18-foot ceilings and a mezzanine level that extends half the length of the sidewall and two-thirds of the back, overlooking the dance floor. A DJ platform and stage area located in the back-left corner at the intersection of the short, 60-foot back wall and the 100-foot side wall. Two bars, a coat check room, bathrooms and a staircase are situated around the side and back.
Lecina continues, "A left/right loudspeaker configuration had to project a long way to the back wall without spilling excess energy on the side walls, which was challenging enough. But with the stage in the corner, the projection angles were a nightmare for all but the most highly directional loudspeakers." Lacina chose EAW's KF730 Series line array.
"A nightclub isn't the first place you'd think to install a line array, but the KF730s are compact enough for the space, yet they deliver extraordinary SPL for their size," explains Lacina. "With their exceptional vertical and horizontal pattern control, we were able to get an even dispersion from the front to the back of the venue, along with the sonic clarity and power response I've come to expect from EAW."
The live rig, which augments the existing DJ system rather than replacing it, comprises two line arrays made up of six EAW KF730 loudspeakers each. Four EAW SB1000 subwoofers are located under the stage. Power for both systems is provided by three QSC 6.0 MkIIs, a pair of QSC 4.0s and three QSC 2.0s. Lacina also designed a switching system that allows the amplifiers to power both the DJ and live rigs, while saved profiles on a pair of XTA DP226 processors allow technical staff to quickly recall processor settings for both systems.
"Mezzanine's stage isn't just in the corner; it's at a 20-degree angle," explaines Katz. "So instead of flying the arrays from the existing beams and joists on the ceiling, we had to fabricate our own 4x6 joists for strength. In the end, EAW's Wizard modeling software was our real savior. It helped us to fine tune the line arrays at the necessary fly points and even helped us compensate for a troublesome concrete beam that was 10 feet from the right stack."
"We're amazed with the coverage we achieved,” says Lecina. “From the front edge of the stage all the way to the mix position at the back of the room, the P.A. delivers even, clear coverage. There are lots of venues in San Francisco with great sound, but I think Mezzanine is the only one where there's such uniform coverage throughout."
"We've hosted top live talent like Mos Def, Alpha Blondi, The National, Michael Franti and Ozomotli and they couldn't be happier with Mezzanine," concludes Roberts. "In fact, some have even taken the unusual step of calling their national booking agents to praise Mezzanine's sound quality for future reference. That's exactly the result we wanted to ensure Mezzanine's position to attract the hottest talent, which, in turn, assures the success of a truly great club."