Flexibility and configurability were key design considerations for the installed sound system at the new 6,000-seat YouTube Theater at Hollywood Park, a near 300-acre sports and entertainment destination being developed by Los Angeles Rams Owner/Chairman E. Stanley Kroenke in Inglewood, California. Located under the same roof canopy as SoFi Stadium and American Airlines Plaza, YouTube Theater is outfitted with an expansive speaker system from L-Acoustics that can support anything programmed into the venue, from concerts and comedy acts to esports tournaments, award shows, and beyond.
The 227,000-square-foot, three-level theater includes a 3,500-square-foot premium club, 1,200-square-foot back-of-house hospitality space, six luxury boxes and incredible sightlines from seats at every level.
The theater’s main left and right line arrays each comprise 15 K2 enclosures over six Kara II, with a center array of nine K2 over six Kara II. Due to the width of the seating area, nine K2 with six underhung Kara II boxes on each side of the proscenium provide outfill. Two hangs of eight KS28 subwoofers are flown behind the center array in a cardioid configuration, with a further 12 KS28 positioned on the floor across the full width of the stage. A dozen compact Kiva II arrayed along the stage lip provide frontfill, while 36 Kara II cover the two balconies. Ten A10i Wide deliver under-balcony and luxury box coverage. A combination of multiple LA12X and LA2Xi amplified controllers drive the entire system, which is under the management of two P1 digital audio processors, all running on a redundant AVB network with an analog backup.
“The system is very capable,” says Ryan Knox, audio systems design lead for multidisciplinary technology and acoustics design firm Idibri. Using Soundvision venue modeling and loudspeaker system design software, Idibri generated several system configuration options for consideration by the venue, Knox says. “The overall design needed to accommodate and network with anything. We worked collaboratively with Hollywood Park, integrator 3G, and L-Acoustics to optimize the system and give the venue a really nice kit of components.”
“From a business standpoint, because we have such a high volume of programming—shows, concerts, and more—it is best if we can use the same PA,” says YouTube Theater audio engineer Andrew Tomlin. “L-Acoustics systems are frequently requested these days. Everybody can tweak our house system how they need to without having to hang their own rig. We want people to have a great experience with the sound system, whatever parts of it they choose to use.”
While the L-Acoustics loudspeaker setup is intended to accommodate any production, it may be reconfigured for specific events. According to Knox, the stage is wide enough that a center array was needed. In addition to being a fill for the left and right arrays, it is available to be used as a dedicated center array to support speech and improve localization to center stage. “And for Bon Iver’s two shows coming up at the end of October, they will supplement the house system with a few additional arrays to provide an immersive L-ISA environment.”
Tomlin reports that YouTube Theater has had a busy calendar of events lined up since opening at the beginning of September and the venue is receiving accolades from visiting production teams. “We’ve had rave reviews from the engineers who have come in so far, and it’s helping us create a reputation for audio excellence. We wanted to get the sound right at YouTube Theater from day one to create extraordinary experiences for our guests.
YouTube Theater’s programming is extremely diverse, with upcoming concerts currently set to include Juanes, TLC with Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Alejandro Sanz, Keith Sweat, Evanescence with Halestorm, Elvis Costello and the Imposters, Black Pumas, and Erasure, among others.
3G Productions provided all the audio equipment, installed the speakers from the bumpers down, and performed the final commissioning. By incorporating L-Acoustics enclosures with Panflex adjustable directivity steering in the system design, 3G CEO Keith Conrad says it was possible to tailor the coverage precisely and evenly in the theater. “When you walk from one side to the other, it’s very smooth and consistent across the room.” The integrator also installed the stage lighting and the 150-motor rigging system.
“Panflex was helpful, particularly for the outfills,” Knox agrees. “We were able to reduce how much high-frequency energy was spilling onto the video screens and the walls. It’s a useful feature and helps make Kara II extremely versatile.”
HKS, the theater’s architect, brought Idibri onto the project at the very beginning, reports Robert Rose, Idibri’s project manager. “Our role as consultants was for the theater design; we helped with the room shaping, theater rigging systems, tension wire grid and motors, audio, video, the production room, LED screens, and theatrical and architectural lighting. There was a team of six or seven of us working on the project from start to finish.”
Crediting Knox for taking the lead in consulting on the acoustic treatment of the space, Rose adds, “The real key for us was that, because we were contracted directly by the architect and we were brought in so early, we started addressing the acoustics pretty much from day one. The acoustics weren’t an afterthought—they were baked into the facility. We’re very pleased with the way the space’s acoustics, as well as the sound reinforcement, turned out.”
Debra Betel, YouTube Theater’s Director of Operations, was instrumental in overseeing the close collaboration between Idibri, 3G, L-Acoustics, and other companies involved in bringing YouTube Theater and its technical facilities to life. “This project really brought together a ‘dream team’ of amazing professionals that were dedicated to establishing YouTube Theater as LA’s premier mid-sized performance space,” she says. “Idibri brilliantly shaped the design of the room early on and, even after reviewing a variety of audio manufacturers, we knew that L-Acoustics was the right partner for us to bring YouTube Theater to life. L-Acoustics partnered with Idibri on the final design, and 3G did an amazing integration, even in the midst of all of the other construction elements going on. The final result is that we now have an incredible audio experience, and we are excited for artists and audiences to experience it for themselves.”
With YouTube Theater being only 40 miles southeast of L-Acoustics’ continental headquarters in Westlake Village, L-Acoustics Americas CEO Alan Macpherson is already anticipating becoming “a regular,” he says. “YouTube Theater is a state-of-the-art venue in every regard, and both Angelenos and out-of-towners alike will be truly inspired by the premium concert experiences they’ll be enjoying there. It was a privilege for L-Acoustics to be a part of this project—being chosen by the venue’s technical team and collaborating with Idibri and 3G—and I’m personally looking forward to celebrating the return and rise of live events in one of the world’s most intimate-sounding 6,000-seat venues.”