Hollywood Bowled Over

The Hollywood Bowl, summer home to the Los Angeles Philharmonic since 1922, recently wrapped up a complete rebuild of its band shell that considerably improves the acoustics onstage while preserving its distinctive concentric ringed motif. But performers at the Bowl aren’t the only ones to benefit from better sound this season thanks to the concurrent addition of a new concert reinforcement system largely comprised of 87 L-ACOUSTICS loudspeakers driven by 40 LA Series amplifiers.

Twin arrays each consisting of ten V-DOSC® cabinets, eight SB218 subwoofers, seven more V-DOSC, and a tail of six dV-DOSC® flank the left and right sides of the new shell with an additional center hang of 17 dV-DOSC flown from the apex of the structure. Furthermore, three 112XT enclosures are hung from the catwalk halo to provide nearfield coverage for the seating areas directly in front of the stage, while five compact MTD108a cabinets are employed as stage lip speakers. All systems are powered by L-ACOUSTICS LA 48a amplifiers.

Fred Vogler is the Sound Designer for the L.A. Philharmonic who, along with Hollywood Bowl Audio/Video Department Head Michael Cooper and Assistant Head Kevin Wapner, runs the system on a nearly nightly basis from June through September. He recalls how an all-L-ACOUSTICS system was chosen for the venue: “Last season, prior to our renovation, many of the larger tours coming through, such as Radiohead and Björk, were carrying V-DOSC rigs and I liked what we heard. However, seeing that systems for rock shows are tuned so much differently than classical systems, we chose to perform our own listening tests with a number of different speaker brands down at Coors Amphitheater in Chula Vista. We invited Bruce Jackson and Patrick Baltzell to join us, and between the five of us, it was a consensus that the L-ACOUSTICS system was, for our needs, simply the best choice.

“Now that our new system is in and properly tuned, I can say that V-DOSC and dV-DOSC are a quantum leap over what we had been operating with in the past. The coherency of wavefront and omission of delay speakers makes our system just so easy to operate; it’s certainly the biggest hi-fi I’ve ever been around. And the consistency of sound throughout the entire venue is so nice, even at the back row of the bleachers, which is 450 feet out and 90 feet up from the stage. We have truly entered a new realm of stereo sound here at the Hollywood Bowl.

Photo caption: Michael Cooper (left), Hollywood Bowl Audio/Video Department Head, and Fred Vogler (right), L.A. Philharmonic Sound Designer, at the venue’s house mix position

“To have this system at our disposal is phenomenal; it’s a high-performance vehicle. Virtually all of the front-of-house engineers coming through – even those touring with the biggest-name artists – have been genuinely excited to mix on it. And they’re always absolutely knocked out by it. But considering that we have 240,000 watts of punch and so many boxes, who wouldn’t be? There’s not another tour stop in the world that’s going to throw a rig like this up in one day.”

Vogler further notes that the service and support received from the L-ACOUSTICS US team in nearby Oxnard has been every bit as good as the sound. “Bernie Broderick at L-ACOUSTICS US was so crucial to this system’s success. We basically told him what we were looking to both accomplish and avoid with a new system, and he plugged that all into a design that really meets our needs. Both he and Paul Freudenberg have been every bit as committed as we here at the Bowl have been in making this system really perform and excite people to its fullest. They’ve taken the attitude of partnership very personally and that’s exactly the kind of relationship we were looking to have with a manufacturer on this project.”

The venue’s production team also appreciatively credits Cleveland’s Eighth Day Sound Systems, Inc. as the primary V-DOSC provider, with additional local support coming from US Audio & Lighting of North Hollywood.

Considered the world’s largest natural amphitheater, the nearly-18,000-seat Hollywood Bowl each year features an extremely diverse roster of musical performances. Aside from the L.A. Philharmonic’s many classical and pops dates that pepper the schedule, the venue has this season either hosted or will host the likes of Brian Wilson, Simon & Garfunkel, Rod Stewart & Ronnie Wood, Eric Clapton, Rush, Sting, B.B. King, Norah Jones, Harry Connick, Jr., Van Morrison, Tracy Chapman, k.d. lang, Diane Schuur, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, The Crystal Method, De La Soul, Air, Seal, Annie Lennox, Dave Brubeck, Nickel Creek, The Roots, Bunny Wailer & The Skatalites, and many others.

L-ACOUSTICS is a leading innovator and manufacturer of high-performance loudspeakers, amplifiers and signal processing devices for touring and installed sound markets. Known around the globe for pioneering and championing the modern line array loudspeaker concept, the company has received numerous accolades for its V-DOSC®, dV-DOSC®, ARCS®, MTD, XT and various subwoofer loudspeaker systems. LACOUSTICS products for the North American market are manufactured and distributed by L-ACOUSTICS US of Oxnard, California.

For further information: www.l-acoustics-us.com

Photo credits: Mel Lambert/content-creators.com

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