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Audio for New NY Night Club, Part 1

Oct 9, 2012 11:54 AM

With Bennett Liles

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Editor’s note: For your convenience, this transcription of the podcast includes timestamps. If you are listening to the podcast and reading its accompanying transcription, you can use the timestamps to jump to any part of the audio podcast by simply dragging the slider on the podcast to the time indicated in the transcription.

54 Below nightclub is an intimate club installed with Meyer Sound UPJ-1P self-powered speakers to fill the space without blowing out the volume.

When Broadway play producers got together and decided they wanted a new club, the place to be and to be seen right after the biggest shows, they called in Masque Sound to set up an audio system perfect for the New York club, 54 Below. Matthew Peskie is ready to tell us all about how Masque Sound did the job, next up on the SVC Podcast.

SVC: OK, Matt. I wanted to get into what sounds like a very wild and crazy place with the New York club 54 Below right in the middle of the big Broadway show district. But first tell me something about your outfit, Masque Sound.

Matthew Peskie: Well, Masque has been around for about 75 years. We just celebrated our 75th anniversary last year. Founded by Geoff Shearing’s grandfather, who currently runs the company, so it’s a third-generation company that’s primarily involved with Broadway shows and Broadway show tours for the most part, but has delved into the install division, install side of things, starting about 5-6 years so now. We have a good strong install division going along, and it kind coincides with the Broadway stuff and lends us to do a fair amount of installs on the Broadway side in a lot of theaters and is kind of how the 54 Below project kind of came around to us as well. [Timestamp: 1:39]

And I think you could run into some pretty unusual sound requirements for some of the shows they do. I think everybody is familiar with the famous club Studio 54, and I think this club is right below where that one was.

It is directly below it, correct. [Timestamp: 1:52]

OK and what sort of a venue is that? What do they do there?

It is very similar to kind of a Cabaret-style dinner theater kind of environment, where it’s a very intimate environment where people are sitting around the stage, at least up to 180 degrees around the stage, and then you hit the back wall. But it’s just a very intimate environment to see whether it’s a comedian or whether it’s a jazz ensemble or a singer/song writer or whatever it might be. It’s just a very small intimate atmosphere that they tried to bring back to kind of the Broadway scene to get people before and after Broadway shows, give them a place to kind of getting into the spirit, kind of feel that spirit of the Cabaret atmosphere. [Timestamp: 2:36]

Right, make it the place to be right after the show, I guess.

Exactly, exactly.

Construction during the build-out of the NY club 54 Below

Was this all new construction where you got in fresh or was it an upgrade retrofit where you took out an existing system?

No, this was new construction. It was just an existing basement was all it was, so it was new construction from a generic existing basement. The whole thing was put into play by some big guys on the Broadway side. They kind of got everybody involved from the sound designer to the set to the lighting was all done by people that have won Tonys and won awards for Broadway work that they’ve done. So I think they kind of wanted, that was the heart and soul of it was that this was a place that these people wanted to see that they wanted to have happen. So it was new construction, and it was really a pretty tight schedule, a pretty ambitious schedule in regards to when we came in, which was kind of late in the game. They had already broken ground for lack of better term and gotten the ball rolling on construction, so by the time we got in, it was pretty much contracted and away we go—get right into it real quick so. [Timestamp: 3:44]

OK, so you had your work cut out for you. Now who did the basic design on this? The original layout for all this?

Peter Hylenski did the design for it and he worked with the Walters-Storyk Design Group, who had a lot to do with the acoustics of the room, the acoustic modeling, and a lot of material that was used in the space because there are businesses located above 54 Below, and you also have the club up above where they do performances. So all sound isolation that was a big factor and when it was all said and done there could be a show going on downstairs and you would have no idea that it was happening, so it’s very, very isolated downstairs. [Timestamp: 4:21]

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