Meruelo Studios delivers pristine sound for its Live Performance Productions with dBTechnologies

Meruelo Media is California’s largest minority-owned broadcast media group, with a broad portfolio of television and radio stations that includes juggernauts Power 106, KLOS-FM, 93.5 KDAY and KWHY-22 TV, serving a combined audience of nearly four million. Meruelo Studios, the company’s full-service broadcast production facility located in Los Angeles’ mid-Wilshire district, is in the former home of the GAM Arts Center, a landmark recognized for its distinctive architecture and a space that once served as a rehearsal hall for the Los Angeles Philharmonic. The 22,000-square-foot complex offers three multipurpose spaces for recording, performance, and broadcast, its production capabilities elevated to new heights with the integration of state-of-the-art dBTechnologies sound systems, including VIO C212 arrayable active line-source loudspeakers, LVX P5 distributed passive speakers, and ES503 portable column PAs.

With two broadcast TV stations and five broadcast radio stations, Meruelo’s productions span everything from talk shows to live performances, in genres ranging from rock and hip hop to orchestral performances. “We have a lot of legacies; KLOS is the rock and roll station in Los Angeles; along with Power 106 and hip-hop station KDAY,” explains David Gray, Meruelo Group’s VP of engineering.

“We also have KLLI, which is reggaeton; the last show we just did was for a reggaeton band out of Mexico City and 88 Power. We just had the band Dirty Honey in here for a live taping for KLOS, and we also do a network for The Heidi & Frank Morning Show for KLOS,” he adds. “We also run an over-the-top network for Fox; we’re standing up some football programming for them. We run all their network operations; we do their productions for their live show.”

With revealing acoustics and spaces ranging from green rooms to talk show sets and a 4,000-square-foot performance space, Meruelo’s sound-reinforcement needs are as diverse as its productions. Don “Dish” Bish, co-founder of local tech supplier Trans Am Entertainment knew dBTechnologies would provide the perfect solutions.

“We used dBTechnologies speakers over at the Viper Room, and I really liked them,” says Dish, a veteran live sound engineer and touring drummer. “When this project came up, I needed a little bit more high fidelity because of how great the room is here. It’s such a perfect space; it’ll show off every nuance of every piece of equipment you have.”

“One of the challenges that Dish and I came into was how to handle not just rock and roll, not just hip hop, but the subtleties of an orchestra,” adds Gray. “How do you cover that whole gamut? dBTechnologies really stepped up and filled in that gap.”

For Bish, dBTechnologies’ VIO C212 arrayable active point-source loudspeakers were the right choice. “When I experienced the horn technology, I realized it encompasses such fidelity that I can get great vocal clarity, I can have a great guitar tone, I can have a great violin through it. I can have a great set of chimes from an orchestra and I can also have a great backtrack synth from a hip-hop artist,” he explains, adding that the system’s ease of adaptability lets him optimize response for any scenario in an instant.

“I can shape the sound for the entire room with a laptop, for any genre of music,” he explains of the versatile six-loudspeaker array. “When you tell the DSP inside the speaker what audio curve you want it to do, the boxes actually talk to each other via dBTech’s Aurora Network. I can log directly into a speaker and I can say, today we’re doing hip hop, so I’m going to scoop out a lot of 400 hertz and I’m going to make sure that the inside speakers are more focused than the outside speakers.

“It gives me the ability for me to go in and make a change with a click of a switch,” he adds. “That’s necessary because in this acoustically perfect room, you hear exactly what the speaker’s doing, and I needed a system that can do exactly what I want it to do, when I want it to do it, and this one does.”

Meruelo Studios’ production capabilities extend to smaller, multipurpose spaces, including a green room equipped with a dBTechnologies ES503 portable column PA, which can be easily moved around and configured in a range of ways.

“Artists can warm up and rehearse in the green room,” says Bish. “They can, say, plug a microphone in, plug an acoustic guitar in. We can also pipe music from the broadcast into the room. We can use it as a giant home theater. That’s the beauty about that PA: It’s extremely portable. If an artist decides they want to rehearse on the roof, one person can take the system up there and set it up for them.”

Studio C, equipped with six dBTechnologies LVX P5 passive speakers and an additional ES503, serves as a hub for meet-and-greets and other events. “We can entertain an entire two studio’s worth of people with catering and everything with the small surround studio speakers,” says Bish.

When it comes to choosing a sound system, fidelity comes first. But Bish and Gray insist that their partnership with dBTechnologies is about so much more than that. “The people at dBTechnologies have just been fantastic to my company over the years,” says Bish. “When you’re dealing with a large company like that, when I can actually call the head of the company on the phone and have a candid conversation with him from another country a half-day away, that speaks volumes. There are a lot of great speakers out there, but I can’t state enough how much the people who run their business make a difference in my choice.”

“One of the things that I think is unique about this relationship is, with the radio stations, we have a lot of big names come through, and when people walk into that room—and this is why dBTechnologies is in a class of its own—they get to about center of the room and stop and go, ‘Oh, my God. It is like the perfect recording environment,’” Gray explains. “And that’s unique. It takes a speaker manufacturer that’s got the ability to handle the whole gamut of sound in that environment because that room’s not going to hide anything for you. I just think Dish made an excellent choice when he put those dBTechnologies speakers in.”


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