Photo above: Opry City Stage’s main room features L-Acoustics Kiva arrays (credit for all photos: Steve Hill)
The new Opry City Stage, a 28,000 square-foot, four-story entertainment complex that opened this past December at 1604 Broadway, in the heart of Times Square, is the Grand Ole Opry’s first foray outside of Nashville.
With quality live music at the center of the Opry City Stage experience, the company wanted to ensure that the new venue’s sound was spectacular. That’s why L-Acoustics’ Kiva II and ARCS WiFo systems were chosen for its two main music rooms: the main stage on the second of the venue’s four floors, and an intimate performance space on the fourth floor known as the Studio at Opry City Stage. Regular live performances of country music are featured on both stages, and patrons can also expect live streaming of Grand Ole Opry broadcasts, as well as special programming courtesy of Nashville's famous songwriters round experience, the Bluebird Cafe.
Supplied by GC Pro with support from local Certified Provider See Factor, both systems were designed and installed by the Malvicino Design Group in close coordination with Opry Entertainment Group Director of Technical Services Jeff Hatfield, Opry City Stage Production Manager, Technical Director and Lead Audio Engineer Billy Gastfield and L-Acoustics Application Engineer Jesse Stevens.
Opry City Stage, which seats 260 patrons, features a left-right array system of eight Kiva II enclosures per side, with two SB15m subs flown atop each array, and three KS28 subs positioned under the stage. Thirteen various X Series coaxial systems are positioned around the room for front fill, under-balcony fill, and coverage to the bar and balcony areas, while a dozen X12 wedges are available for stage monitoring as needed.
The Studio at Opry City Stage seats 200 and can hold up to 280 for standing-room-only shows. Its music system uses two clusters of ARCS WiFo (Wide and Focus) speakers, with a third cluster to cover a bend in the rear of the room. The room’s bar and private lounge get their sound through a distributed system of 5XT and X12 speakers, while additional X12 wedges are available onstage.
Both of the music rooms’ sound systems are collectively powered by a total of 13 LA12X, LA4X and LA8 amplified controllers located in a separate machine room between the two music floors. This space also acts as a central patchbay and matrix hub for a web of tie lines that systems designer Horacio Malvicino intended to allow signal from the I/O rack on the stage in either room, and from the Yamaha CL5 FOH consoles used in both, to connect anywhere else in the venue. In addition, the entire system can connect, via fiber, to a broadcast control room in a nearby building that will manage streaming coming in from and to the Nashville venues.
“My approach was a little different from a regular PA design; I wanted it to be more like a recording studio, with a lot of flexibility in the routing,” says Malvicino, who has designed and built scores of studios in North and South America, the Middle East and Europe. He goes on to note that the L-Acoustics systems were the “absolute best choices for this project.”
“This was a former theater in the 1980s, with 45-foot ceilings and a big mezzanine, so it has interesting acoustical challenges and line-of-sight issues,” Malvicino explains. “The system needed to be excellent for music reinforcement, but it also had be used while patrons are dining, so it had to have power but without blasting people out. The music has to be part of the experience, but not compete with people interacting. That’s why the Kiva II and ARCS WiFo speakers work so well in situations like this. We wanted real recording-studio quality here, and L-Acoustics is the SSL of PA systems!”
“These two rooms couldn’t be more different from each other, and they needed very specific sound-system solutions,” says Billy Gastfield, who came to Opry City Stage from famed New York jazz venue Iridium. “The Kiva II in the Opry City Stage and the ARCS WiFo upstairs in the Studio are the perfect fit for each.”
Gastfield says that the Kiva II’s presence allows it to fill the room without overwhelming it, perfect for a dining room where bands start playing at 11:30 a.m. each day and perform into the wee hours. “That’s very much the live music vibe of Nashville, and we can recreate that without competing with the food service here, by getting the music into and under the balcony at powerful but reasonable levels,” he says. Plus, Kiva II is discreet and its curvy design blends in very well architecturally with the high ceilings and theater stage.
Upstairs, in the Studio, with its lower ceilings and acoustically treated walls, the ARCS WiFo is able to provide even coverage throughout the room while keeping energy off the walls thanks to its unique high directivity pattern. “This is a hi-fi room designed for both electric sets and acoustic instruments like banjos and mandolins—and for hearing the lyrics,” he says. “It’s made for country music, unlike many rooms where you have to fight the top end. The ARCS WiFo gives us the luxury of being able to bring all of that out. This system was made for that.”
Malvicino added that L-Acoustics’ support was world-class, as well, citing room simulation testing, system design input and technical support from L-Acoustics Applications Engineer Jesse Stevens, and delivery assistance through Regional Sales Manager Scott Pizzo.
“There were a number of challenges here, including wanting to have both rooms, which are very different architecturally and acoustically, sound consistent with each other,” says Malvicino. “Plus, there were other challenges, like having asymmetrical rooms and the large under-balcony area. But we all worked together to solve them—Billy, the Opry’s folks, L-Acoustics and everyone else. It’s just been an overall great experience working with L-Acoustics’ products and people.”
For more info on Opry City Stage, visit www.oprycitystage.com. Malvicino Design Group, See Factor and GC Pro can be found at www.malvicinodg.com, www.seefactor.com and www.guitarcenter.com/gc-pro, respectively.