Moody Theater, never sullen, often magnificent.
This is a big room in every sense of the word, not least its reputation forged in the few short years since broadcaster KLRU-TV moved their famed Austin City Limits televised concert events to this purpose built theatre. While a few complain that it doesn't have the intimacy and charm of its forebear, Moody Theater more than compensates by its selective investment in state of the art technology. "We have an extensive rig of High End System lighting," revealed Billy Heaslip the venue's Technical Production Manager, "and we've recently renewed the sound system, making a big investment in d&b audiotechnik."
Sound had previously presented Heaslip with some issues, as he acknowledged, "Our options were limited and we get a real variety of performance styles passing through this room. There was also the consideration of advancing technology; seems like audio moves on faster than lighting these past few years." Heaslip took a close look through all the band touring riders from the preceding year, "The most consistently requested system was for d&b audiotechnik, they featured in about ninety percent of riders."
Heaslip contacted Austin based entertainment technology provider Big House Sound Inc, "I spoke to Roy Kircher, the boss at Big House, and he arranged for his audio installation specialist Zach Richards to come down and rig a d&b V-Series system alongside the existing house rig for a comparison. We played a bunch of different music CDs through the system, even a bit of classical, and walked the room." Moody Theater is a wide, fan shaped auditorium on three levels seating 2,700 people. "It sounded much better everywhere."
That was back in May 2013, and following the successful demonstration Richards set about planning a detailed proposal. "In terms of power and quality the V-Series is ideal for a concert hall of this volume, though the wide horizontal and tall vertical spread over three layers is not a simple 'two hangs and you're done' kind of room. I designed coverage on d&b's ArrayCalc for the main system; splitting the V-TOP cabinets into distinct vertical zones; avoiding reflections off balcony frontage was easily achieved. But I consulted with d&b's office in North Carolina for recommendations about what elements to use for front fills, and they also confirmed my calculations. They’re great with that sort of thing."
Big House Sound completed an installation of V-Series in good time; Richards’ design using a lot more of the wider hundred and twenty degree horizontal V12 cabinets than is usually seen, "To provide that full even coverage in the lower seating levels this venue demands." The whole system is driven by d&b D12 amplifiers, onboard system zoning, delay and EQ managed using the d&b R1 Remote control software. On recommendation Richards used Q10 loudspeakers for frontfill, and specified the weightier d&b J-Series J-SUBs for low end. "Even with three J-SUBs a side, for some bands arguably you still might want more power in the low end," said Richards. "But we can always provide that out of our rental stock; no venue wants to invest in equipment that only gets used ten percent of the time. Can you really imagine an artist like, say Kacey Musgraves needing the sort of low end power that the Nine Inch Nails might use?"
One of the first bands to use the new system was Chris Issak, a more nuanced and varied rock combo you couldn't wish for to put the system through its paces. Their front of house engineer Eddie Cole summarised his experience succinctly, "I did get the chance to walk the room in the afternoon and the coverage was good. The system as installed gave me great vocal clarity, there was plenty of headroom and achieving the distinctive Chris Isaak sound was extremely easy." He also confirmed Richards' assertion about the low end, "If I'd had more time I would have liked to experiment more with the SUBs placement. The width of the room is an influence, I know those J-SUBs can really produce, but felt that three a side were just too far apart to give the full eighteen inch punch I needed when Chris does some of his more rockabilly stomps." Heaslip was well pleased, "Those are typical of the sort of comments we've been getting with the new system; engineers are positive about the benefits and engaged by the flexibility the system gives, and in how they use it. My touring background was mainly in lighting, but even I can hear the difference. From a production perspective my days are much smoother, and having Big House Sound based locally means I get that instant response a premier venue like ours deserves."