BROOKLYN, New York – July 2008 — Independent concert promotion company Bowery Presents has long been associated with excellent live sound. The owner/promoters behind some of New York City’s most beloved rock venues, Bowery Presents has maintained consistently top-notch sound reinforcement across all of its clubs and concert halls, including Mercury Lounge, The Bowery Ballroom, Webster Hall, and the new 3,000-capacity Terminal Five. Last year, Bowery Presents expanded to Brooklyn, opening the 550-capacity Music Hall of Williamsburg, which boasts a powerhouse sound system by L-ACOUSTICS.
A sold-out performance by punk rock band Against Me! opened Music Hall of Williamsburg in September of 2007, and the venue’s been going full tilt ever since, presenting a wide variety of music, including Patti Smith, The Black Lips, Vampire Weekend, heavier fare such as High On Fire and Mono, and electronic music like Hot Chip, M83 and Autechre. Music Hall’s design emulates the critically acclaimed Bowery Ballroom, with a sound system based on a Bowery Presents venue that’s nearly three-times its size.
“We’d done an L-ACOUSTICS dV-DOSC system at Webster Hall in 2004, and I’ve been really impressed with that system,” says Bowery Presents principal Michael Swier. “I knew we wanted the same high quality at Music Hall of Williamsburg, which we built specifically for excellent sound and acoustics.”
Swier worked closely with L-ACOUSTICS to come up with the best possible sound system design and speaker placement for Music Hall of Williamsburg. Room design and acoustics figured critically into this “best possible” formula, according to Paul Freudenberg, L-ACOUSTICS vice president of sales and marketing. “I really like working with Bowery Presents because they have a great design sense that never detracts from their attention to acoustics,” he says.
“At both The Bowery Ballroom and Music Hall of Williamsburg, they’ve used very architectural-looking ironwork as the guard rails on the balcony and ground floor, which is much more acoustically transparent than the alternatives. And they’ve sculpted the balcony faces so they’re curved, arched surfaces, which has a more natural effect on diffusing the sound than a flat surface would. Both decisions add a very classic look to the venue while also significantly improving the acoustics.”
Freudenberg also points out that Music Hall features a floated ceiling with concentric acoustic panels, not unlike a compression ceiling found in a recording studio, which cuts down on discrete slaps, resulting in more neutral, diffused reflections.
In selecting the loudspeaker system, Swier was looking for power, clarity and articulation. “They knew the kinds of acts there would range from light acoustic alternative to fairly heavy rock, techno and industrial,” Freudenberg notes. “They needed to be able to handle a wide variety of music, and would definitely require plenty of headroom in the system so they could deliver the SPL on demand for the heavier acts.”
Swier worked with L-ACOUSTICS to devise FOH and monitor systems for Music Hall as well as zoned speakers for the lobby and downstairs bar and lounge. Designs were modeled in L-ACOUSTICS’ SOUNDVISION 3D predictive environment. “Using SOUNDVISION, we’re able to audition a number of different layouts and loudspeakers, both for sonic performance against coverage and SPL, as well as the visual impact on the stage,” says Freudenberg. “Since Music Hall is an environment with significant balcony space, we ran many trials on how to minimize the visual impact while maximizing the sound. Then we’re able to give the client these specific predictions that validate our system design concepts based on performance expectations.”
L-ACOUSTICS spec’d out a front-of-house system consisting of stereo arrays with eight dV-DOSC and two dV-SUB elements per side, plus four SB28 subwoofers beefing up the low-end from under the stage. The on-stage monitor system consists of a dozen L-ACOUSTICS 115XT HiQ monitor wedges, with an additional dV-SUB for the three-way drum monitor. A single ARCSÂ® enclosure per side provide side-fill on the stage. L-ACOUSTICS 8XT coaxial speakers provide music to the lobby and downstairs bar area, including a live feed of the show.
FOH engineer Evan Player spent 15 years as a touring sound engineer–with bands such as Modest Mouse and The Shins–before taking a full time gig as production manager and head engineer at Music Hall of Williamsburg. He considers Music Hall “one of the best venues I’ve ever mixed in,” noting that the two dV-SUBs flown with each array give really good low-end representation at the mix position with no adverse effects at the front balcony. “Even if you’re standing right up by the dV-SUB in the balcony, you still get a very clear sound in the high-end as well,” Player assures.
“We did a Beirut show here in May and I was lucky enough to mix it, and it was one of my favorite mixes I’ve done,” he adds, “And, just recently, the engineer for [electronic duo] The Presets said it was the best room he’s ever mixed in.” When Modest Mouse played a surprise show at Music Hall last month, Player adds, “it was one of their best sounding shows I’ve heard.”
L-ACOUSTICS is a leading innovator and manufacturer of high-performance loudspeakers, amplifiers and signal processing devices for touring and installed sound markets. Known around the globe for pioneering and championing the modern line array loudspeaker concept with V-DOSCÂ®, the company has received numerous accolades for its KUDOâ„¢, KIVAâ„¢, ARCSÂ®, XT coaxial loudspeaker systems and SB line of subwoofer enclosures, all powered and processed with the LA4 and LA8 amplified controllers in fulfillment of a “total system approach.” L-ACOUSTICS products for the North American market are manufactured and distributed by L-ACOUSTICS US of Oxnard, California.
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