NEW YORK, NEW YORK - AUGUST 2011: At just over six acres, Madison Square Park sits at the heart of New York City, framed majestically by Fifth Avenue, Madison Avenue, and East 23rd Street. Since its revitalization a decade ago, it has earned the love of New Yorkers near and far with beautiful landscaping, engaging community activities, and a fantastic summer concert series. Dubbed "The Oval Lawn Series," the concerts can draw over a thousand people to enjoy blues, jazz, and folk acts with national recognition. The New York branch of respected consulting firm SIA Acoustics designs and implements the portable PA system anew each year in order to put promising new equipment through a torturous, real-world test. This year,
Danley Sound Labs was "tapped," so to speak, and now its patent-pending Synergy Horn full-range and Tapped Horn subwoofer technologies deliver the house sound and monitors, with a Danley DSLP48 signal processor at the front end. Concerts in the Park are held weekly throughout the summer, manned by SIA team Adam Shulman, Gino Pellicano and Chris Greco.
"Danley Sound Labs seems to be gaining exposure recently," said Adam Shulman, consultant with SIA Acoustics. "We were curious not only to better understand their products firsthand, but also to gain an understanding of the company itself" Shulman and colleagues from SIA Acoustics traveled to Gainesville, Georgia to take measurements and meet with company president Mike Hedden and others. "We had little doubt that their equipment would measure favorably, with a thinker such as Tom Danley behind the designs. Of equal importance, however, is the ability for a company to support its product both on an immediate basis (on the day of a load-in or during an installation), and for years down the line. As consultants, clients rely on us to make recommendations that consider these factors, just as much as the technical ones. "They were pleased to find that the company is making the move from good to great in that regard. He cited the hiring of industry veteran Paul Giansante to the position of national sales manager as an indication that Danley is tooling up to meet future demands.
The stage setup at Madison Square Park is state-of-the-art. Designed with Jeremy Billig of McLaren Engineering, the same firm involved in design of the stage for Cirque du Soleil's "KA" and touring stages for The Rolling Stones and *NSYNC, among others - the stage is constructed and deconstructed for the day of a performance, leaving the park to greener vistas on off days. Additionally, the wind-rated stage is supported exclusively by two vertical lengths of truss, without counterweights or guy wires. "The entire setup is broken down and rebuilt every week," said Shulman. "It's hard on the gear. It gets rained on and bakes in the sun, and is loaded and unloaded just as it would be on a tour. But we feel that this is a great opportunity to further our understanding of advantages and weaknesses of a product."
Part of the allure of Danley Sound Labs was the unusually large output-to-size ratio of both its full-range boxes and subwoofers. "The aesthetic and logistical requirements of this series dictate a high level of production from a small footprint. A gigantic stage and loudspeaker system wasn't an option," laughed Shulman. The system employs two Danley SH-96 full-range boxes in a stereo configuration, with two SM-60F compact molded horns to serve the audience areas on the sides of the stage. Four Danley DBH-218 subwoofers ground the system with low-frequency reinforcement, arranged in an 'expanded cardioid' configuration to cover the 270 degree audience, while providing substantial attenuation on-stage. On the modest 12 by 24-foot stage, eight Danley SH-LPM monitors provide abundant volume and clarity for the musicians, without consuming valuable real estate. A Danley DSLP48 processor conditions both the input from an Avid Profile console and the output to a rack of Lab.gruppen (house) and Yamaha (stage) amplifiers.
Broadband pattern control is important in almost every sound reinforcement system, but at Madison Square Park it is especially critical. "Since the park is in the middle of Manhattan, the background noise level presents some real challenges," explained Shulman. "In fact, one of the park's two stage positions is immediately adjacent to the 23rd Street bus station. The bus stops right behind the stage!" With so much to compete with and so many acoustic instruments on stage, every decibel of gain-before-feedback is precious. "Danley's focus on very directional horn technologies was compelling for us. The audience sits in front of the stage, of course, but it also sits on the sides of the stage. The coverage provided by the SH-96s and SM-60Fs is complete without allowing the house sound to leak onto the stage. Even at low frequencies, we utilize a directional subwoofer array to maintain this pattern control, as we often have acoustic guitars and basses on stage.
The Madison Square Park Conservancy, which organizes events and maintains the park, was reportedly pleased by the output that the modest collection of Danley boxes delivered. "This is not "turn it to 11" rock-and-roll and we're not pushing the system to the limit by any stretch," said Shulman, "but this venue has distinct challenges. We're impressed with the simplicity, output-to-size ratio and substantial pattern control of the Danley product - all of which are critical for a stage populated by stellar musicians and a discerning audience.
ABOUT DANLEY SOUND LABS Danley Sound Labs is the exclusive home of Tom Danley, one of the most innovative loudspeaker designers in the industry today and recognized worldwide as a pioneer for "outside the box" thinking in professional audio technology. www.danleysoundlabs.com