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San Francisco’s Masonic Center Audio System, Part 2

San Francisco’s Masonic Center has to accommodate lots of big acts, and they wanted to streamline setups and minimize leaked sound into the surrounding neighborhood.

San Francisco’s Masonic Center Audio System, Part 2

Aug 22, 2013 3:43 PM,
With Bennett Liles

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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.

San Francisco’s Masonic Center has to accommodate lots of big acts, and they wanted to streamline setups and minimize leaked sound into the surrounding neighborhood. Keith Conrad and Julio Valdez from 3G Productions are back to tell us about how they handled all of this, coming up right now on the SVC Podcast.

SVC: Keith and Julio, thanks for being back with us for part two on the SVC Podcast from 3G Productions in Las Vegas. We were talking about a complete d&b Audiotechnik sound system upgrade for San Francisco’s Masonic Center. A lot of very big acts coming through there and the stage is almost surrounded by the seating which can make things interesting for coverage and monitoring. I think you went with the V-series speakers and the D12 amps. What was the timeframe on this project? When did you get in there?

Keith Conrad: Right. We originally contracted with them around the end of August, and that was just a couple months after the V speaker was released. So we initially did a partial install in September with them, and actually we sub-rented some of our V speakers in the meantime until the rest of them came in, and we finished it up in the November/December time period. But in terms of actually being on site, I mean I think we were there maybe three days total with a couple engineers, so it went up pretty quickly. [Timestamp: 1:49]

That’s not much time to be working on a system like this in the Masonic Center especially since most of it’s flown. Was all that rigging in place or did you have to pretty much start from zero on the rigging?

Julio Valdez: We pretty much started from zero. There was a few minor adjustments as far as positioning of the motors there, but nothing critical at all. We were able to get it all up without any issues. [Timestamp: 2:13]

Okay. And if there’s any doubt that you’re really doing system testing there, I can hear the frequency response sweeps going in the background. Either that or there’s a spaceship coming in.

Conrad: It’s constant QC-ing going on here, making sure everything’s always working for the next show. [Timestamp: 2:31]

If you had to do most of the rigging, how did that go? I ask that because that’s always a potential source of some big surprises.

Valdez: Yeah, there are just minor, “Oh, there’s like here, we can’t put a point there,” scoot it over a foot type thing. Nothing complicated at all. It was fairly smooth. [Timestamp: 2:50]

That place looks like it would be pretty close to perfect acoustically. How are the acoustics in the Masonic Center?

Valdez: The Masonic Center is not very live at all. I thought the acoustics were great in there without having to do really anything on our end to correct for acoustics. [Timestamp: 3:08]

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San Francisco’s Masonic Center Audio System, Part 2

Aug 22, 2013 3:43 PM,
With Bennett Liles

That certainly is nice when it already sounds right. I talk to a lot of people who get into a venue and find out that they have to take some heroic and very time-consuming measures to treat the venue first. So you got all the rigging done and got everything connected and how was it when you checked it all out? What did you do to sort of ring out the system?

Valdez: The testing with d&b systems is they’re so great, just turning them on there’s very little left to do. Just a little bit of smart playback, some known CD’s and a little bit of minor tweaking. Nothing really too crazy. [Timestamp: 3:43]

And they’ve got such a variety of acts coming in there that system has to be ready for anything. You can’t really test or tune it for everything but I guess that once you have it tuned you just let them use it and see what sort of feedback you get from the venue people after a few acts have actually used it.

Valdez: Yeah, that’s correct. Definitely different genres and everybody’s put their own flavor to it, but for the most part there wasn’t a whole lot to have to EQ out of it. [Timestamp: 4:09]

Who did they start out with? Do you know what the first act was to come in there and fire it up for a live performance?

Valdez: We weren’t there for their first one. This was Matisyahu, and they were worried about the PA being good enough for them, and sure enough that show went off without any problems and everyone was really satisfied.

I’m sure that if you’re a performer and you find out that it’s a brand new system and hasn’t been used before, that might be a cause for some concern so I can’t really blame them for that but it’s great that it all worked out. Now acoustically is there a big difference in the sound in that place between when it’s full and when it’s empty, say for rehearsals?

Valdez: I think that every place changes a little when it’s full from when it’s empty, but this one didn’t change so much. There isn’t a whole lot of reflective surfaces to really be concerned with. [Timestamp: 5:00]

And where is the control point? Where is all the sound system control stuff located?

Valdez: They have a pod that extends from the balcony, just a little cubby there just big enough to house audio from the house and lighting.

Wow, in the Masonic Center, that would be a nice place to be. That would be perfect and you don’t always find that.

Conrad: You’ve got the best view in the house I think. [Timestamp: 5:23]

So what’s coming up for you guys next? Have you got any projects coming up at 3G Productions that you can let us in on or is everything there top secret?

Conrad: Well we got a couple things. We’re working on an installation in wine country in California, a brand new ampitheater called Vina Robles. That’s another d&b installation as well. So then we have some other projects we’re working on that are a little more top secret right on the Strip, new theaters and things like that that are going in that we happen to work. So hopefully you’ll be hearing more about us, but on the production side, too, we’re still doing a lot in electronic dance music festivals and starting to get more into some corporate events and things like that. Summer concert series are always really big out here in Vegas as well on the Strip. [Timestamp: 6:13]

Well, to be doing production and installation and to be doing all of that in Las Vegas, that’s a lot going on and I don’t know how you keep up with all of that.

Conrad: We have great people, and I think that makes all the difference.

Keith and Julio, I appreciate your taking time to tell us about this one. Keith Conrad and Julio Valdez of 3G Productions in Las Vegas and the d&b Audiotechnik sound system upgrade at San Francisco’s Masonic Center.

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