Mattie St. Clair’s House of Spirits: Historical Installation Considerations

This historic brick building in downtown Minneapolis created a variety of "This Old House"-style challenges for AV integrator Entertech. 8/20/2014 5:28 PM Eastern

Mattie St. Clair’s House of Spirits: Historical Installation Considerations

Aug 20, 2014 9:28 PM, By Tim Kridel


In May, AV integrator Entertech wrapped up work on Mattie St. Clair’s House of Spirits on Main Street, a live music saloon that had previously housed a restaurant. Named after a madam who owned a nearby brothel in the late 1800s, Mattie’s on Main is in a historic brick building in downtown Minneapolis, which created a variety of “This Old House”-style challenges for the integrator.

When it came time to consider mounting and rigging option, for example, Entertech was allowed to drill into the mortar but not the bricks. The thick, metal straps around the timber space’s support columns seemed like an ideal spot for display mounts, but they had to be worked around because they’re historic and couldn’t be altered.

Similarly, to mount loudspeaker brackets to the brick, Entertech worked with the project’s GC to come up with a viable workaround. The unorthodox solution was to use construction adhesive to mount the loudspeakers brackets to the brick because it could be removed with a wire wheel in the future without destroying the brick.

“It turned out really well,” says Briten Gilbertson, sales manager for Entertech. “I probably could hang myself off of those brackets.”

The venue’s odd shape was another challenge. The stage is tucked into a back corner, with one wall fanning out at a 45-degree angle to form the main seating area. The bar is on the other side of that seating, with a second seating area in an atrium behind the bar. Simply cranking up the power to reach all the way into the atrium would have risked overwhelming patrons seated closer to the stage, and it could have disturbed residents in adjacent condos.

Part of the solution was to hang the PA loudspeakers above the stage and angle them down, which focused the sound on patrons and reduced the amount that bled upstairs.

“The coverage from the stage from the front-house PA system is clear all the way out to the atrium without having to use the house system,” says Adam Fox, live audio engineer. “If we do turn on the house system and hook it up with the stage with the delays, everything is crystal clear.

“The audio level at the stage is 85-90dB with a jazz trio. If you’re in the atrium, it sounds almost identical. You can speak over it. The staff loves that they can work around it. They don’t have to shout.”

Another key part was JBL Professional’s Enhanced Acoustic Simulator for Engineers (EASE) software.

“It does get us very close, [although] there is still no replacing experienced and knowledgeable design staff,” says Adam Santoro, who handles business development. “It is a very valuable sales as well as design tool because of how we are able to present different audio designs to a potential client in a way that is much easier for someone who is not in the AV industry to visualize.”


Mattie St. Clair’s House of Spirits: Historical Installation Considerations

Aug 20, 2014 9:28 PM, By Tim Kridel


User Friendly

The musicians at Mattie’s on Main are mainly jazz trios and singer-songwriters. Entertech chose all Electro-Voice loudspeakers, which the company has used for everything from church music to rock. Besides familiarity, Electro-Voice offered the most bang for the buck, which was a plus because Mattie’s is the owners’ first venture into live sound.

“It performs really well for that type of venue and price point,” Fox says. “Dean [Schlaak, the client,] and others initially were maybe taken aback by the system we spec’d.

“Our thinking behind that was that we didn’t want him to get into live music and find out that the system is lacking, with bands coming in and feeling that they didn’t have what they needed. We wanted to overshoot a little so no one would come in the door and want more.”

House and live audio components such as the Bosch 8x8 audio matrix and PreSonus 16-channel mixer are all controlled by iPads. Wi-Fi means the Maggie’s on Main staff can tweak settings from anywhere in the saloon, so there’s no mix location taking up the prime seats in the house.

Entertech chose the iPad partly because its user interface is intuitive rather than intimidating, which is how an audio rack might have looked to staff new to live music.

“The iPad is an essential tool,” says Terry Brackett, who handles sales and design at Entertech. “It’s a great, cost-effective way to do it.”

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