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San Francisco’s Masonic Center Audio System, Part 1

The Masonic Center in San Francisco needed a new sound system, and they called in 3G Productions from Las Vegas to set up a new d&b audiotechnik system to handle a variety of big name acts.

San Francisco’s Masonic Center Audio System, Part 1

Aug 13, 2013 2:12 PM,
With Bennett Liles

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Part 1


Part 2

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.

The Masonic Center in San Francisco needed a new sound system, and they called in 3G Productions from Las Vegas to set up a new d&b audiotechnik system to handle a variety of big name acts. Keith Conrad and Julio Valdez are here to let us know how it all worked out, coming up next on the SVC Podcast.

Keith and Julio, thanks for being with us on the SVC Podcast from 3G Productions in Las Vegas. But on this one you went all the way up to San Francisco and the Masonic Center there. So what’s been happening at 3G Productions lately? What sort of projects do you guys get into?

Keith Conrad: Yeah, great. Thanks for having us today, Bennett. 3G Productions has been in business now for nine years and we’re located in Vegas as well as L.A., so two major entertainment hubs. Our business is kind of broken up into two businesses: the live side, which is audio production and rental, and then the pro-audio side, which is sales and installation, which is the division that handled the Masonic Theater. In terms of what type of stuff we do on the production side, we do a lot of stuff from the Latin entertainment market as well as electronic dance music. We just finished up doing the Electric Daisy Carnival out here in Las Vegas, and then we do a lot of projects up and down the Vegas Strip, and then as well as corporate events and things like that out in L.A. [Timestamp: 1:49]

Well then it’s not hard to see why 3G Productions is picked to outfit some real front-line venues like the Masonic Center. I looked at some of the acts they have coming through there and they’ve got some mighty big names. Now how did you get involved in the Masonic Center sound upgrade with d&b audiotechnik? It looks like a fairly sizable place.

Conrad: Yeah, it is pretty sizable. We were—and this took over a few years—we were discussing with them different options throughout. They were looking at ways to decrease their labor for load-out as well as the noise, the normal nuisance that comes with late load-outs after these shows. So they kind of saw d&b also on the riders that came through and they thought that it was the right box to use for the auditorium. [Timestamp: 2:32]

Well, increasing efficiency on load-in and load-out is a major goal for any venue, but what exactly, as far as the sound system itself, did they come to you with? Did they have any specific requirements when they came to you with this one?

Valdez: They were definitely concerned with noise pollution to the neighbors there and obviously, like most other venues, they’re looking for even coverage throughout. So they just wanted to get the right balance of coverage and power and not overdo it for the neighbors. [Timestamp: 3:03]

Yeah, it’s a pretty big place. I think they have two seating levels and a thrust stage, and that can present some problems with a big performing group. What did you do when you got in there? What was the first step in all of this?

Valdez: The first step is definitely to measure the room and enter all of the values there into the simulation software for d&b, known as ArrayCalc, and then just punching in speakers and trying different things. [Timestamp: 3:28]

Obviously, you had to have a system in there that’s dependable and very versatile with all of the varied types of big-name acts coming in. They’ve got Chicago, let’s see, Earth, Wind & Fire; Blondie; the Moody Blues. So why did you decide to go with the d&b audiotechnik V8 and V12 speaker arrays for acts like these?

Valdez: The Vs are the perfect fit for the venue. I mean we tried Js in the design before and it was just hard to spread all the power out there evenly to everyone. But once these came along, it was like a marriage made in heaven then. [Timestamp: 4:07]

Okay, and I think that’s a three-way passive design. Let’s see, I think they’ve got two 10in. low-frequency drivers and what is it, a horn-loaded mid-frequency driver?

Valdez:That sounds about right.

And the two high-frequency drivers? Valdez: Those are 1in.

Okay, and what’s the dispersion on that, 120?

Valdez: The V12s are 120 and the V8s are 80. [Timestamp: 4:32]

And you did a pretty quick turnaround on this, and with the stage design the way it is, being almost surrounded by seating, pretty much everything is flown, right?

Valdez: Yes. There’s some subs on the ground, but there’s also a couple of subs in the air and all the top end is flown.

Okay, and I think these things weigh something like 75lbs.?

Valdez:Seventy-five pounds per speaker. The kind of thing you’d expect from d&b.

And the V subs are part of this setup so where are the V subs located?

Valdez: There are four flown V subs on each array and then there’s eight subs on the ground scattered around the stage evenly in a sub-arc configuration. [Timestamp: 5:10]

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San Francisco’s Masonic Center Audio System, Part 1

Aug 13, 2013 2:12 PM,
With Bennett Liles

Okay, and of course, the D12 amps, the V8 and V12 speakers are a matched system? They’re all designed to work together?

Valdez: Yes, all d&b-designed stuff.

And I think I saw something in the press release about this being the biggest d&b audiotechnik installation on the west coast?

Conrad: It is the biggest d&b V-Series installation on the west coast at the time it was done. I don’t believe there’s been anything bigger since then. [Timestamp: 5:35]

Okay, so as far as that goes, you guys are kind of in the front seat . I mean if anybody is working on this or considering this type of system, you would be the first ones to call.

Conrad: Absolutely, yeah. We’re very familiar with it and we do a lot of stuff, as we said, on the production side. So as you see some of the people that are coming through the Masonic Theater, those are the type of high-end, high-profile bands that we work with on the production side. [Timestamp: 5:58]

So how are the amps and the speakers connected on this system? If they’re designed to work together, no surprises there?

Valdez: Yeah, it’s just your typical NL8/NL4 cable going from the amps to the speakers. They want to be able to take the system down and use it for other things when possible. [Timestamp: 6:17]

Oh, well that could potentially complicate matters I would think.

Valdez:Yeah, I mean it’s really a lot like a touring system so everything is just free to come out.

And in the Masonic Center, what kind of cabling distance are you talking about between the amps and the speakers?

Valdez: The farthest runs are probably 150ft. to 200ft., if I remember correctly.

Okay, and let’s see, what is that, a 70V system?

Valdez: No. It’s just a standard amplifier. [Timestamp: 6:43]

Okay, just low impedance between amps and speakers?

Valdez: Yeah.

Tell me about the D12 amps. I did a little reading up on those and they seem to have a lot of features that not so long ago would involve a lot of separate boxes and rack units and they put them all into the amp.

Valdez: Yeah. The D12 amp is surprisingly only about 1,200W per channel at four ohms. D&b systems are very, very efficient. They definitely work with each watt they put out as efficiently as possible. There’s also the sensing circuitry integrated into the amp, so when you have these long runs, the amplifier can sense the runs—the cable length resistance—and compensate for all that. [Timestamp: 7:25]

Okay, 2-channel amps with, I think, both analog and digital inputs?

Valdez: That’s correct.

And a few other bells and whistles like four-band EQ and built-in delay?

Valdez: Yes.

Up to, I think, 340 milliseconds, which would be kind of crazy but you can go that far with it if you need to.

Valdez: You bet.

And that’s independent on each channel, right?

Valdez: Yes.

A pink noise signal generator, all that right there in the amp.

Valdez: Yeah. A very versatile amp; very robust.

Well, this venue has some very big names and you didn’t have much time to work. We’ll talk about that in part two. Thanks for being here to give us the first outline on it. Keith Conrad and Julio Valdez from 3G Productions in Las Vegas. We’ll see you in part two.

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