Outdoor AV: Installation at Central Park West, Part 2

James Cioffi of AV firm Boulevard Pro in Oradell, New Jerseyexplores the challenges of providing sharp, clear sound reinforcement in Central Park West. 4/07/2011 5:58 AM Eastern

Outdoor AV: Installation at Central Park West, Part 2

Apr 7, 2011 9:58 AM, with Bennett Liles

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Central Park West ,a New Jersey amphitheater hosting a vast range of crowd sizes, does 5.1 sound outside and James Cioffi from systems integrator Boulevard Pro is here for Part 2 of his chat about how they pulled off a sound system installation that can work for any size crowd. That’s coming up next on the SVC podcast.
Welcome back James for Part 2 on the SVC podcast from Boulevard Pro and we were talking about a New Jersey outdoor venue referred to as Central Part West where they called you in to install a Yamaha LS9 in an amphitheater project. When you did this were there specific acoustic characteristics that you needed to emphasize for an outdoor system like this?

Well in this type of system what we were looking for something that was high horsepower. Some of the other real concerns were that…was that they had to fit into a specific opening that we didn’t have much say on but it was really about how much horse power we could fit into a small spot obviously it’s a very wide, it’s a very deep venue. It’s 270ft. to the rear, it’s 165ft. to the FOH mixed position and width wise we’re over 450ft. wide at the middle. I don’t even know how wide it is at the very ends but it’s a pretty wide open venue and we did choose a line array technology because we were able to use our preprogram coordinates in the computer and we were able to predict where the sound was going to go and that’s how we did it. [Timestamp: 2:02]

And the Nexo GOS 12 line arrays obviously were made to order going with the Yamaha gear that went into this. So how did that go as far as the installation of the arrays?
The Nexo GOS, again like I said in Part 1, we really have a great relationship with Yamaha Commercial Audio. Yamaha Commercial Audio also is the distributor and owner of Nexo. The product works really, really well. We’re very familiar with it. We use it in a lot of different types of venues. We did the modeling on our computer. We felt that this would work. The actual installation of it was a much bigger of a challenge because we couldn’t use normal rigging motors or we didn’t have any normal rigging points. We were pretty much up to our own devices to design, build a rigging system that would first of all obviously be safe and secure and second being in an outdoor venue. So to that end we relied on our senior project manager, John Orth, who pretty much is one of the best mechanics I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. John has been with us 16 years. Again, he’s our senior project manager and he custom built a stainless steel rig and then what we did is we used the Nexo installation hardware which is a lot smaller and less cumbersome and it just worked out to be a perfect, perfect fit and thanks to John we got it done. And what we did was we installed four GEO S1210’s and then below it installed a NX242 processing cards built into them. So really what’s happening is two channels are running tops per side and two channels are running subs per side and it’s quite powerful and very, very rock solid so the NX amplifiers have been a really, really pleasant surprise. We, in our production end—we’re an L-Acoustics V-DOSC house. We have all Lam amplifiers and we’re very used to using high-quality amplifiers and for NEXO to come along with this amplifier it really, really works well. Especially with their components and it really is an LS9, two amplifiers and speakers so as far as installation wise it couldn’t get any more streamlined. [Timestamp: 4:53]

And from the pictures I’ve seen it looks like they’ve got a real nice architectural design out there with the stage enclosed and they’ve got some space off to the sides. What did you do to blend this gear into the existing architecture for the amphitheater?
Well it’s really funny because this system is behind stainless steel grills so it looks like the stage has two windows or two…it just architecturally it looks like they’re two windows or not a like a window but two open spaces and is a custom made stainless steel grill that really is 65 percent open so the system is at a deficit from the beginning because it’s behind a screen and that was our biggest worry. It didn’t keep us up at night but it was a worry that we’re losing 28 or 30 percent of our horsepower getting through a screen but with that custom rigging system that John came up with he was able to push the rig so close to the screen that there is some kind of loss but its minimal and you don’t even see the system. It is the strangest, strangest thing because you don’t even see the system all you hear is just unbelievably high-quality sound covering the entire space. When we auditioned it to the powers that be, now you have to realize that this is all judges and people that made this thing happen these people are not audio file type of people, they came out for the first reveal, we put on our Michael Buble CD and they were absolutely floored. They were absolutely floored and what we did in addition is we used some Community R.25’s and we put them in on some delayed lighting towers that went out…the first one was about 150ft., the next pair was about 300ft. and what we did is we were able to dial it in so it’s just one constant field of audio and it’s just really, it’s quite remarkable. And also it’s set up to be in a 5.1 situation so we did a couple of community movie nights and we were able to steer the system in 5.1 and I’ll tell ya—5.1 for 3,500 people is really pretty remarkable. [Timestamp: 7:06]

Outdoor AV: Installation at Central Park West, Part 2

Apr 7, 2011 9:58 AM, with Bennett Liles

Right especially outside where the side just keeps right on going where ever it’s aimed with no acoustic enclosure. When you get the politicians and the people who sign the check out there they may not know why they like the sound but they’ll certainly know if they like it and it sounds like you were successful at impressing them. It’s a different situation entirely though when you have to impress the visiting performers since for the most part they’ll be a little more expert or discerning at least at what they want. So how did you set up the stage monitoring?
The stage itself, the basic system has a couple of monitor mixes on stage but when we do a performance venue we’ll come in with a digital snake. We do have a 16-channel snake box on stage and we do have microphone inputs in the front of the stage, stage left-stage right, some hanging microphones so it is set up pretty much like a standard small production venue. The artist that we did, we did South Side Johnny Asbury Jukes which is a…they’re a New Jersey legend. They’re obviously a band that requires all the professional monitoring that any other band would need but in that case we called upon Boulevard Pro rental division—brought in a PM5D, brought in the new SB snake boxes with an esM7 out front and we did the splits, brought in whatever monitor dejour, backline dejour whatever the artist would want. So what we did is made it rental friendly and actually it works very well with us because we’re a rental and installation company. So…but even if it’s not us it’s still a simple interface. [Timestamp: 8:44]

Right and you mentioned in Part 1 that they didn’t have a lot of in house sound experts available so who normally works this system? What size crew do they have? Does it vary with each show?
Depending on what they’re going to do, if they’re doing a simple high school commencement and again last year they did a few events because the park was wide open. We are expecting this year to do 12 full-blown concert events and then they’ll do their…the high school commencements, the local orchestras, that kind of stuff, and what we’ll do is they have an onsite technician that understands the system and if we have to provide a tech per day we will do that but I suspect by the end of the season this year that their onsite guy will be strong enough to do 60 percent of what has to be done there and 40 percent of it’s going to be full production gigs and you can’t expect a guy to be responsible for that kind of stuff. [Timestamp: 9:4]

So whatever training needs to be done, I guess Boulevard Pro is taking care of that.

Yeah so what do you use for a recording system? I’m sure some of these acts want to have their shows recorded.
Well the LS9 has a built in recording device so you can just put in a stick and record it. So that’s what we have for there, we have CD and iPod playback, again and they’re counting this as a Central Park West and the reason that they’re calling this that is that the Overpeck Park really sits about probably seven or eight miles away from midtown Manhattan and this was just a part of another park across the Overpeck Creek there’s an equestrian center. There is an established park with baseball fields and football fields and soccer fields. So what they’re doing is they’re actually connecting all of these parks together. It’s a pretty impressive thing. I mean really is impressive. [Timestamp: 10:36]

You do a lot of things there from high school graduations right on up to major performers. Were you there for the first event where the system where was used and how did that go?
Well I was there for the first event. We did 4th of July playing the Star Spangled Banner to 15,000 people as loud as we could possible do it and then we set up across, I mean this thing is 150 acres or 148 acres, so on the soccer fields probably half a mile away we set up a portable sound system and we also just simulcast what was happening in the amphitheater to the whole entire park. I don’t know how many people were in the park that day. I would think that there was 25…30,000 people because the parking lots were full—they busing people in. So it was really, really impressive in a very open brand new, beautiful space so when the Star Spangled Banner is going and the rockets’ red glare above you, it’s kind of cool. [Timestamp: 11:35]

Yeah that sounds like the biggest event for this system so far and you were cranking this stuff wide open for that turning it up to 11.
Oh yeah.

All right I’m glad to have had you here with us James, James Cioffi from Boulevard Pro and the amphitheater sound system in Central Park West with all the tricks of outdoor sound with a vastly different size of audience for various events. Thanks for being here with us to give us the low down on how you set all this up.

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