Over the course of the last seven years, Metro Events,Inc., Waldorf, Maryland, has had a hand in staging many high-profile events in and around Washington, D.C., ranging from rock concerts to benefits to political rallies. Few of those events, however, probably can rival the significance and emotional power surrounding two September 11th commemoration ceremonies the company helped bring to life.
In January, Metro Events helped stage a memorial ceremony on the National
Mall in Washington, D.C., organized chiefly by airline pilots and flight
attendants. On Sept. 11th, the company provided sound services for another,
more elaborate memorial service organized chiefly by the same group. Held in
the open-air Sylvan Theatre on the grounds of the Washington Monument, the
event brought together flight attendants, pilots, a drum corps, vocalists
and several thousand members of the public to remember those who died in the
terrorist attacks. Among the attendees was the father to Todd Beamer, a
passenger on United Flight 93 who is thought to have played a leadership
role in wresting control of the plane from the hijackers before it crashed
in a Pennsylvania field.
For Metro Events president Les Slaybaugh, helping the airline professionals
pay their respects to victims of the disaster was one of the more meaningful
projects the seven-year-old company has taken on.
“We’ve done a lot of high-profile events in this town over the years, but
this was something the public could really relate to more than some of the
other First Amendment free speech rallies that we often help produce on the
grounds of the nation’s capital,” Slaybaugh says. “It was a very moving
event, both uplifting and depressing at different points, but it was
definitely a morale builder for the airline workers. It felt good to be a
part of it.”
When it came to staging the event, Slaybaugh, as usual, put his best foot
forward. What was different this time, however, was the quality of the sound
equipment he was able to furnish. Most notably, Slaybaugh was able to
utilize eight model SPL-td1 loudspeakers from Sound Physics Labs, a product
he describes as one of the most versatile and easy-to-use he’s ever worked
To cover the Sylvan Theatre for the memorial, which was attended by about
4,500 people, Slaybaugh configured the speakers in two, four-speaker arrays.
Each of the two clusters was set up in a 120-degree array on either side of
the stage area. The speakers were set atop five-foot-high risers constructed
of build jack panels on the stage, which was elevated three feet off of the
The speakers performed flawlessly, and overcame the challenge of a very
windy day that might have presented sound quality problems for other
speakers, Slaybaugh says. “One of the nice things about the box is in a
windy environment like we had that day we can contour the box with a Brooks
Sirens mini drive that can take care of the problems the wind generates by
blowing across the microphones,” he says.
But more significantly, the speakers, which Slaybaugh had secured from Sound
Physics Labs in early August under a demo arrangement, proved their mettle
in yet another important application, he says. They performed so well, in
fact, that within days of the Sept. 11th production, Slaybaugh made a
commitment to purchase the speakers.
“We had used the speakers in other difficult environments, one being a
local, indoor 5,000-seat arena where the acoustics are so hideous that a
state senator who I had helped produce events for in the venue stopped
staging them there,” Slaybaugh says. “But when he later attended an event
that I helped stage using the td1s and asked what happened to make the sound
better, I told him it was the boxes. We’ve used the speakers in several
different configurations in different venues and in evaluating them we
haven’t found anything they couldn’t do.”
For Slaybaugh, the SPL-td1s are a godsend for an event staging company like
Metro Events. They sound great in virtually any environment and provide
excellent coverage in a wide range of applications.
“It almost doesn’t matter where you are in the audio field – whether it’s
ten feet or 300 feet back – the sound is smooth and clear and the fidelity
is unreal,” he says. “In addition, they’re boundary compliant – the sound
from the speakers doesn’t overlap like in traditional arrays. With their
tight pattern you can place them side by side and they don’t overlap, but
stay nice and smooth across the whole area. They hold the pattern and
project forever, which is especially good in an outdoor environment.”
Designed by legendary engineer Thomas Danley, the SPL-td1 employs newly
patented technology that combines the outputs from multiple drivers to drive
a single horn, allowing each driver to operate in its own frequency range.
The result is a flat frequency response that is automatically time-phase
“With this box, everything is mounted in the same horn at the correct
wavelength so when it comes out of the box it’s properly mixed,” he says.
“Danley has figured out how to make this thing work.”