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Babeville Gets Righteous Sound with L-ACOUSTICS

FOH Staff • International News • January 29, 2008

BUFFALO, NY Singer/songwriter Ani DiFranco recently played the opening nights of her hometown’s newest music venue, Asbury Hall, a 1,000-capacity performance space within a 19th century church in downtown Buffalo. The Church facility and Asbury Hall known collectively as Babeville are actually the latest grand-scale DIY project for the folksinger. DiFranco and her partner in Righteous Babe Records, Scot Fisher, who saved the church from demolition by purchasing the historical site from the city of Buffalo. Klondike Sound specified and installed an impressive sound system, made up primarily of L-ACOUSTICS components, including the KUDO line array.

Klondike Sound owner John “Klon” Koehler began working with DiFranco in 1996, a pivotal year for his company. “We made a leap of faith in ’96 to buy an L-ACOUSTICS
V-DOSC line array and there’s still nothing better,” Klon shares. “The decision I made back then has led me all the way to this incredible installation. Ani has always understood how art and science come together
that a full-fidelity sound system would help her deliver her message. When we started touring regularly with Ani, we began using the
V-DOSC system and people all over the
U.S. and Canada were commenting on how amazing her shows were. In the 10 years since, L-ACOUSTICS has always been our loudspeaker of choice.”


The Church and parish building make up a large complex that DiFranco and Fisher have put to good use the sanctuary is the performance space, and the attached parish building and basement spaces house Righteous Babe Records’ headquarters, as well as Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center. Klon got involved in the Asbury Church restoration in January of 2002, being called on to assess the suitability of the sanctuary for live performance and to make recommendations regarding rigging points, electrical power distribution, stage size and access, and to begin designing a sound reinforcement system. “Scot Fisher understood how important it is to the success of a show to accommodate the needs of touring production,” Klon shares. “Basically, a show starts and ends on the loading dock and if you don’t have a reasonable flow of equipment, building services and accommodation for tour personnel, the show will suffer. The objective here was to provide the best possible production conditions.”


Once the roof-off renovation was completed and the building could be safely occupied, Klon addressed the acoustic challenges. “I sought the opinion of my friend Sam Berkow, who came to the church with me in September of 2006 and made some recommendations, which we followed to the letter,” Klon reports. “We wanted to preserve as much of the 19th century aesthetics that this venue had, but bring it to a 21st century level of production quality. Sam did a great job of specifying acoustical treatment in places where it wouldn’t be noticed and brought down the adverse reflections in the room considerably.”


Conceived as a multipurpose venue, though primarily for standing-room-only music shows, the Asbury Church performance space needed a sound system to suit multiple venue seating arrangements. Klon summarizes: “There are 31 L-ACOUSTICS loudspeakers in the room, all very carefully time-aligned and aimed to serve a variety of seating configurations with no compromise for concerts. We went to L-ACOUSTICS with architectural drawings early on this was a design/build opportunity and we wanted the optimal system design.”


Jim Kinkella, head of engineering services for L-ACOUSTICS U.S., used the manufacturer’s SOUNDVISION acoustical modeling software to help visualize the performance of various L-ACOUSTICS products in a variety of locations around the room. “We came up with very uniform SPL coverage mapping to achieve the end results,” notes Klon. The system consists of two five-element L-ACOUSTICS KUDO arrays arranged left and right, and powered by eight L-ACOUSTICS LA48a amplifiers. The arrays serve most of the main floor and the side balconies.


A pair of 112XT coaxial loudspeakers covers the tips of the horseshoe balcony, out of the pattern of the main speakers, and a small cluster of three dV-DOSC enclosures serves just the rear balcony; both are powered by a total of two L-ACOUSTICS LA17a amps. The front-fill system consists of four L-ACOUSTICS 8XT coaxial speakers, on the front lip of the stage, powered by an LA4 processor/amplifier. Another eight 8XT on custom brackets are installed on the underside of the side balconies, spaced about 15 feet apart down the length of the room and powered by another LA4. Four L-ACOUSTICS 112P self-powered speakers round out the loudspeaker complement and can be used as additional front fills or stage monitors.


The Asbury Church install was Klon’s first experience with certain L-ACOUSTICS components, on which he comments: “I am very impressed with the horizontal directivity control of KUDO, and also the quality control in terms of driver-to-driver matching. L-ACOUSTICS products are evenly voiced from V-DOSC down to 8XT. Also, I’d say the 8XT, of which there are a dozen in this installation, are good enough to be project studio monitors.”


Klon mentions Craig Chapman of Buffalo’s RPM Entertainment as the system’s co-installer. “He handled everything upstream of the XTA DP226 and DP224 processors, including the Whirlwind snake system and 24-channel Soundcraft GB8 mixing console. We felt that the front-end components should be handled locally since there’s so much flexibility needed in this area.”


According to Klon, Berkow’s acoustical recommendations and the L-ACOUSTICS system has truly optimized Asbury Hall as a concert venue. “The hall had a ‘soft-opening’ without a proper audio system almost a year ago and had developed a reputation as being inappropriate for amplified music,” explains Klon. “But, within 24 hours after the opening, there were three promoters in Buffalo all ready to produce shows there based on rave reviews from the audience and press.”

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