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Audio at the Musical Instrument Museum, Part 2

Apr 22, 2014 10:37 AM, With Bennett Liles

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And what led you to try out the Anakonda speakers from K-array?

The main speakers are fairly wide. They’re far apart on each side of the stage. And then the center fill speaker kind of pulled things together, but then we had – from the original installation there were five of those as sound fills and they’re below the stage. They’re built into the little recesses with a little grate over the front. And so there were five of those, but the problem with those is they’re point-source speakers. If you’re sitting right in front of them you’re getting the brunt of it. If you’re off to the side, you get less. As you go back, there’s less. There were hot spots and dead spots, and that’s in the high-priced ticket area. That was the weakest part of the sound coverage. When we had our Sennheiser rep, Jerry, brought in the Anakonda system, we were kind of blown away by it. It was like, “Oh my gosh, this could solve this problem.” And sure enough, we did a demo and laid it in. It goes across the front of the stage, which has a curve to it – the front of the stage. We tested it out for the first time on a Susie Bogguss concert and got emails the next day from people saying it was the best sound they’d heard. The coverage is just so uniform over the first five, six rows. It made such a difference. [Timestamp: 5:32]

And those speaker arrays don’t really look at all like speaker arrays. They look a lot more like trim along the front of the stage.

Yeah. It does. It does look like trim and it pretty much disappears.

Did you get any reaction from people who spotted those or were they happy just to know the sound was there?

They just know the sound is there. Yeah, people don’t really notice it. And actually we’re not quite done with the final. We’re going to actually enclose it. We’re going to be putting a wood basically molding. We would be able to put some uplighting behind it. That’s one of the upsides of this is that we’re going to add some uplighting behind it, and we’re going to put a grill in front and then it will really disappear. [Timestamp: 6:12]

And those things just lay there and they plug right into each other with the NL4 connectors so I would think that installation was pretty quick and easy.

Ridiculously easy, yeah. Basically we have six of them, plug them together, run a cable, run it to the amp and that’s it.

What sort of sound control do you have in the theater? Is that all back in the rear booth for the mixing console?

Yeah. We’re using the KA40 amp to run them. That’s backstage in a rack. And then that along with the rest of our speakers, that’s controlled with a Meyer Galileo DSP. [Timestamp: 6:49]

Okay, you did the first concert and everything seemed to work out there. What’s been happening since and I ask that because you’ve got to have such a wide variety of performers and audiences.

We do. Well I mean people rave about this and they always have, but now you can tell that people are even having a better experience. And I go and sit up when I can in the front rows. We sell out a lot, so it’s kind of hard for me to do that. So I did it last night, for example. We had a Mavis Staples concert and toward the end of the show some people had left so I popped up and it just sounds so good. [Timestamp: 7:25]

What sort of reaction have you gotten from the performers? Do any of them notice and ask about that unique-looking front fill situation?

It’s interesting because they usually don’t notice it. We usually point it out to them and then they go, “Oh my gosh, I’ve never seen anything like that.”

Jerry Delgado from Sennheiser talked with me in part one about the demo he provided for you and that must have been pretty strange the first time you saw what’s probably the only speaker array you can actually tie in a knot.

Yeah, they’re amazing. I can see the number of applications that you can use these on, you can put them in places that you’d never think of, I’m sure. We were talking about that, in outdoor settings hanging them from tents and all kinds of stuff and it would be hard to find them. [Timestamp: 8:09]

Yeah, and of course the theater is the real keystone to the place but it must be very unusual just looking at the whole museum there. You must be constantly getting new ideas about what to have in your exhibits.

Well yeah. We have a whole curatorial department that does that, and we do get feedback from people visiting from other countries that say you know, you don’t have this represented or that and they’ll change it or add it. [Timestamp: 8:34]

Well, to see and hear all of those instruments from around the world played in live performance with the new Anakonda front fill must be a real kick. I know the shows must be amazing.

Well, you’re preaching to the choir, yeah. I mean I always try and get people to come in because once they come in, until you get in and see the place you just don’t have any idea of the kind of depth and breadth and just – it’s remarkable. You really have to experience it. [Timestamp: 9:04]

From the pictures of the theater that you have it looks like you got the perfect solution and it was very good of you to be here to tell us about it.

Well, I appreciate the opportunity. Thanks.

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