Aug 19, 2013 3:13 PM, By Cynthia Wisehart
Live sound meets live streaming at Fenix
“If you’re going to stream you can’t remix,” Storyk continues. “I think controlling the low frequency in the space was most important. We used membrane absorbers over the stage and in other strategic locations to avoid a runaway condition. We got the mid-frequencies off the walls. We worked with the interior designers. They took over and patterned and refined the treatments. It was a truly iterative experience—fun working that way.”
To get a sweet spot environment for the audience while defusing audience/dining noise away from the performers, they dropped the ceiling over the front bar and dining sections. Over those areas, they floated twin recording studio-style ceiling clouds constructed with a combination of broadband and membrane absorption. The clouds angle upward from the front to the rear of the room, and aesthetically pleasing wall panels were added for absorption.
The intimate scale of the room was key to every decision. As a jazz club, it didn’t want to have a high stage. “It’s really just a small riser, one step, 13ft. by 16ft.,” Storyk says. “The sound reinforcement is actually under the stage. We had to angle the subs so they could fit. We used a lot of little subs in between each joist.” Saunders, Storyk, and WSDG project manager Joshua Morris communicated throughout the design process, via iPad/Skype in several cases. “John had been there a few times and after that we could pull drawings and measurements,” Saunders says, “I could take the iPad right up into a corner and take a picture, shoot it to him and he could send back a drawing.
“The next mission was to get the tech right,” Storyk says, “particularly a good mixing position for the front of house. It’s not the best position but it still works well.” “It’s a great fixed position!” Saunders laughs in response. “Five feet off center and a little off to the right. John wanted it in the dead center of the room where the customers had to step over it to get to their seats.”
Again, given the size of the room, Saunders wanted a small FOH footprint. “And candidly we needed a mixer that would be respected by visiting engineers, whether they were local or national acts.” He went with the Midas Pro2 console with Klark Teknik plug ins. He liked the sound. He also liked that he would have iPad control from the booth and could do all his home runs via Cat-6. “Our digital snakes are three Cat-6 lines for 56 inputs vs. a big multichannel snake.”
Saunders says he listened to a lot of speakers before he chose the EAW QX596 mounted off the walls. “They have adjustable spray (180 sweep), so we were really able to tune them,” he says.
Likewise, the team auditioned streaming providers before settling on Livestream. “Everyone has compression, but they had the best and most consistent stream and an accessible user interface—and great support, because we cannot go down,” Saunders says. “It’s a 1080p stream, but we wanted it to be on everything. We knew people were going to be watching on high-resolution flatscreens, but Livestream could also deliver to anything. Yes, it’s highly compressed on my phone and it’s not 100 percent realtime—it gets to the phone last—but it delivers what we wanted: A worldwide signal to every kind of device that reproduces the audio the way Laura wanted it to be. Livestream can actually handle what we do and that’s now been proven in over 150 shows.”
Which brings us back to the control room—something Saunders considers a key investment, at somewhere less than $20,000. Van Galen wanted a nightclub that was also a studio, or a studio that was also a nightclub. “It really sets us apart,” Saunders says. “The asset for our club is the content that we capture—the more quality, the more valuable the content. We looked at the streaming as a revenue stream from the beginning. The content was valuable, so we had to make a major investment to have the best infrastructure for that content. We have a dedicated space that’s properly equipped and sonically isolated. We’re not just tucking streaming gear into an office space and storing things in the cloud. When we’re dark, we can actually be a recording studio.”
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