Audio System & Room Acoustics
This was an entire alteration and upgrade to the sound system in the main room of Club LaVela. The existing EAW Avalon system (DC-1’s) were to be moved to a secondary room and a new, Dynacord Alpha X-1 system was to take its place. Upgraded subs were also on the drawing board as well as upgrading the rigging to accommodate the new, heavier cabinets. A side note of the main hang was to adjust the cabinets so that the coverage pattern was just to the front edge of the main stage but not onto it. This would allow for national acts to be placed on the stage in front of the DJ booth without having feedback issues when using microphones. At these SPL levels, both DJ’s and vocalists would benefit from not having the main system firing straight at them when trying to perform.
Rather than purchase entirely new subwoofers, the existing sub cabinets were upgraded and improved. I designed and modifed the existing cabinets to improve the low-end response as well as reinforce them structurally to accommodate the new earth-shaking Beyma drivers that would be mounted into them. Along with the upgraded drivers came more amplifier power to give the system breathing room and headroom for that extra punch. There would be no blown drivers here or amps working at maximums. With built in headroom, the system was designed to work on a nightly basis all year round and not suffer disasters.
The entire system amplification was upgraded in order to both give more headroom to the system as well as to offer more DSP options for time delay and phase coherence matching. The new system would incorporate improved amplification (all QSC) as well as top notch mixed FIR and IIR DSP processing via a Dynacord P64/EV N8000 processor. All output card slots would be utilized to ensure proper time alignment of fills as well as reduction of comb filtering on the main dance floor and secondary fills in the balcony/penthouse area. Although the DSP was complex, massive improvements to the sound were possible with the use of these excellent processors. Subs were aligned to best fill the dancefloor with amazing low end to match the Dynacord Alpha tops. Additionally, a dedicated large HVAC unit feed and room was built for the processing and amplification to make sure there were no overheating incidents when the room was absolutely packed to capacity. This made sure fresh, clean, cold air was getting to the amplifiers at all times the system was running.
Because of the hard wood and many flat surfaces inside the main room at LaVela, it was full of resonances and reverb. When the club owners came to me about upgrading the sound and lighting system, I pointed out the need (and opportunity) for having some acoustic absorption added into the room to help accentuate the upgraded sound. Why spend all this money on a top-notch system if you were putting it into a room that made it sound like a gymnasium? It also allowed us to add some nifty new DMX LED lighting inside the walls to accentuate the upgraded lighting fixtures.
Dealing With the Room Acoustics
The overall room size was quite large, but because this was an active nightclub many of the walls for acoustic materials would be off-limits. The owners of the club rightfully didn’t want rowdy club-goers to damage all the work we’ve been putting into the room. Luckily for us, there were very large swaths of space above the main dance floor that were perfect for large scale absorption. The addition of these sections of absorbers would also allow for some new lighting additions to be placed into the walls and create a seamless lighting effect for the entire room.
Forgive the photos of the process, but they were taken from a cell phone over 6 years ago. These photos to the right show some of the process of building the wooden frame as well as filling it with fiberglass for absorption. Different than your common studio acoustic absorbers, these walls were designed to greatly reduce frequencies below 100 Hz. Also seen in these photos are the small boxes that would be home to DMX LED lighting chips that would glow in patterns in conjunction with the main room lighting. White opaque plexi was used along with the inset boxes and white fabric to give the wall a relatively flat, smooth surface.