As you read this, another season of outdoor concerts and dance performances will have concluded for the Capital One City Parks Foundation SummerStage series. This year, the not-for-profit City Parks Foundation renovated its flagship venue, transforming it with a new stage. The mission was to improve the sound quality for audiences within the venue and to create an atmosphere with fewer noise reflections off the surrounding buildings, an issue for the residents living around the park.
To address the concerns of Central Park’s neighbors, the SummerStage team utilized d&b Audiotechnik’s NoizCalc environmental noise prediction software, which allows the user to accurately predict the far-field noise emmisions associated with a d&b sound system.
“During a demo, we were shown d&b NoizCalc predictions for the venue, and based on it, our choices for sub deployment,” states Jason Volkman, Audio Lead. “When we installed the d&b KSL system, our first sub configuration was a mono-block on center, with 2 stacks of J-SUBs, packed tightly. After a few days of listening and a few low impact shows, we decided this wasn’t a great setup, and reached out to Drew Levy of d&b to take a look at the NoizCalc file. What we saw in its predictions seemed quite accurate to what we were hearing. We chose to adjust the subs to a more standard four across-the-front setup. The NoizCalc pictures showed that it would help with our spillage, and in practice it seemed to track.”
Volkman noted the need to be more concerned with the noise sending out of the concert boundaries than what the audience is hearing within. “It’s a rough balancing act to provide the best experience possible for the artists performing, engineers mixing, and audience members listening, while maintaining a very low impact on the neighbors. In the past, there were complaints from a few residents of park-facing apartments on 5th Avenue – some of the priciest real estate in the world. With the old PA, there were far fewer tools at our disposal to correct for our spillage. We were left having to choose between good experience within the venue or fewer complaints from the neighbors. Having d&b NoizCalc available to us as a tool to at least show that we were really trying to address the issue and that there was real science behind what we were doing, was very helpful.
“Since the venue is very wide, but not terribly deep, having the spread that the SL-Series offers was very helpful. In our case, having a PA that gradually tapers off as you travel out of the array’s coverage is much nicer than the sudden cutoff you hear with some other PA types. I was also very excited for SummerStage to invest in a product that was at the very beginning of its cycle, building on the success of GSL before it. The mains are an eight box-perside KSL hang (six KSL8 plus two KSL12). We have four J-SUBs spread across the downstage edge, buried under the stage platforms. Six Y10Ps spread out as front fills, and two Y7Ps – one hung on each side of the stage – are used as VIP outfills.”
Volkman added that Domonic Sack from Sound Associates, the AV integrator on the project, provided strong support and shop resources during the build and install process.