Photo above: LCD Soundsystem inaugurated the venue’s new K2 rig with a four-night run in March (credit for all images: Nicole DiBenedetto)
Franklin Music Hall on Philadelphia’s North 7th Street first opened its doors in 1995 as Electric Factory, the second incarnation of a bygone local ’60s/’70s venue. The new 2,500-capacity venue quickly emerged as one of the city’s prime destinations for eclectic artists spanning genres from rock to punk to noise to dance, and its popularity sparked the warehouse-style music-venue trend, becoming the model for clubs across the nation. The venue was eventually acquired by AEG in September 2018 and took on its current moniker, with AEG’s regional partner The Bowery Presents producing shows there by artists like Thom Yorke of Radiohead, Greta Van Fleet, MGMT, and Matt and Kim.
Now, Franklin Music Hall has turned yet another corner with its recent installation of an L-Acoustics K2 loudspeaker system, which has pumped up the volume for its most current raft of touring artists, including LCD Soundsystem—who christened the newly-installed K2 arrays with a four-night stand in March—Car Seat Headrest, The Story So Far, PUP, Mitski, and many other forefront musicians. This project builds on The Bowery Presents’ many sonic successes with L-Acoustics systems at its other venues, including NYC’s Brooklyn Steel, Terminal 5, and Webster Hall, as well as Boston’s new Roadrunner, which is also now home to a K2 rig.
For much of its life as Electric Factory, the Philadelphia venue was also a pioneer of an earlier L-Acoustics loudspeaker, V-DOSC, one of the first truly world-class, modern touring-sound systems. Thus, with the installation of its new K2 arrays, Philly’s venerable live-music destination is also one of the longest-running L-Acoustics sites in North America.
“The V-DOSC system had been in here since 2004, and in its time, it was the absolute benchmark for sound,” recalls Franklin Music Hall Production Manager Jerry Market, whose tenure at the venue extends back to its Electric Factory era. “Bauder Audio has been our partner for years, so we had them come in and install the new K2 rig for us.”
Bauder utilized many of the same acoustical designs used for the V-DOSC system, which addressed such anomalies as the original massive windows that shook and rattled when the low end got turned up. There’s still plenty of low end there, too; only now it comes from ten ground-based KS28 subs, which provide low-frequency punch for a main array system comprised of 16 K2 loudspeakers, flown eight per side.
But for a sound system designed for high impact, this K2 configuration also takes into account some of Franklin Music Hall’s unique aspects, such as the multiple delay-fill speakers used to get sound into the interior’s nooks and crannies. These include four Kara II used as front-fills, mounted directly atop the downstage edge of the subwoofers using custom supports that also keep them from taking up room on the stage. There are also nine A15i, featuring both Focus and Wide versions, for fill coverage above and below the balcony and to cover the seating side of stage left. All of this is powered by a combination of 11 LA12X and three LA4X amplified controllers, with delay timings managed through an L-Acoustics P1 processor located at FOH and running the entire system on a Milan-AVB network.
Onstage are 14 coaxial X15 HiQ wedges for monitors, with additional A15 Focus speakers as side-fill stage monitors positioned over five KS21 subs, all powered by an LA12X. Front-of-House and monitor consoles are both DiGiCo desks: an SD10 with a 32-bit SD-Rack and a Quantum225, respectively. Other system elements in the complete renovation of the venue’s audio include Motion Labs distros, Shure and Sennheiser mics, Shure Axient wireless, K&M stands, Racpco Horizon mic cables, an Entertainment Manufacturing analog split, and Whirlwind W1 and W2 subsnakes.
“We’ve also added new acoustical curtains to further minimize reflections off the walls,” says Market. “But the real star of the sound is K2. It sounds great and it’s keeping Franklin Music Hall the premiere club venue in Philadelphia, just like L-Acoustics has been for decades.”
“K2 was the natural option to replace V-DOSC for a venue that hosts a lot of rock, rap, and DJ performances,” explains Bauder Audio Production Manager Brian Naab. “It’s got plenty of power and is the most rider-friendly box out there. Plus, it’s compact enough for a venue like this.”
He’s referring to the room’s acoustical intricacies, which the main K2 can primarily address, thanks to their adjustable L-Fins, with the 90-degree asymmetric model used on the K2 enclosures nearest the side wall to keep the energy away from its reflective surface. “A combination of the L-Fins and the acoustical treatments keeps the sound squarely on the audience,” says Naab. “It’s a great rock sound system for a great rock room and nicely carries on the club’s legacy for providing the very best sound.”
As Franklin Music Hall’s General Manager for the past four years, Toni Bourgeois has her finger on the pulse of what artists and engineers are looking for, and she says K2 perfectly fits the bill: “Touring bands and their production teams that have played here on and off for years have all raved about how much better the room sounds, and so have our local friends and patrons. We’re thrilled that we were able to upgrade to our new K2 rig and we’re looking forward to hosting even more amazing-sounding shows for our guests here at Franklin Music Hall.”