Dublin's Isaac Butt gets serious with sound from d&b


"This is a state of the art sound system for people who are serious about what they do," said Dave McDonnell of Dublin based pro-audio company McDonnell Systems. He was referring to the d&b audiotechnik PA system his company had recently installed in one of the latest venues on the Dublin nightlife scene, Radio City at the Isaac Butt Bar. Named after Isaac Butt, regarded in Ireland as the father of the Home Rule movement and situated in the heart of central Dublin, the recently renovated bar is a Mecca for music lovers and clubbers in the city. It has a variety of bars spread over three floors with 'Radio City' situated in the basement where the d&b system is installed. This is a venue for late night gigs where up and coming bands are showcased.

The system, comprising d&b Qi7s and Qi subwoofers with Ci80s providing delays and E0s serving a number of blind spots, was specified and designed by the Butt Bar's resident sound engineer Andy Colbert in co-operation with Kevin McGing, sound engineer and designer, of MOSCODESIGN, one of Ireland's leading pro-audio specialists who supplied the equipment. d&b's D12 amplifiers drive the Qi-Series loudspeakers, while the Ci80 delays and E0s are powered by d&b E-PACs. Colbert specified a d&b system after researching PA systems throughout Ireland and the UK as well as touring on and off for four months, where he experienced and 'test drove' a variety of sound systems of varying quality that he'd read about and heard of from colleagues.

"When it came to specifying a system for Radio City the overriding factor that was in the forefront of my mind was quality. If you're serious about building a new venue, as far as I'm concerned, there's no excuse for putting in a second rate system," said Colbert. "If you're not going to invest in a proper PA you may as well just stop and give up on the idea of competing for business in the first place. In Dublin there are many venues of varying standards and competition is high, you need all the odds stacked on your side if you're even considering building a new facility such as Radio City. So to me, the obvious thing to do was to spec it out to the highest possible standard as well as keeping the bands, audience and engineers in mind," he continued.

With thirteen years experience under his belt as a live engineer, Colbert had come across many venues with a variety of problems and these problems were all kept in mind when designing the sound system for Radio City. "Throughout the months preceding the renovations, I had many companies approach me, tendering their products, services, equipment and installation skills. But I was very particular in my choices for a front of house system. I'd consulted most of the top engineers in Ireland, as I figured that they'd also be using the system from time to time, and I wanted no cause for complaints. Then I processed all their opinions and eventually came to my own conclusions, taking on board all they had to say," said Colbert.

Following his research, Colbert approached Kevin McGing at MOSCO who delivered a d&b audiotechnik Q-Series system to the Cavern, a smaller venue at The Isaac Butt. McGing demonstrated the system and left it for Colbert to test for the following week. "I was instantly taken back by the clarity and presence delivered by these small loudspeakers. I used Carla Bruni's debut album as my weapon of choice! It is a very dry, acoustic sounding album. It was as if the album had been mixed on these loudspeakers! I'd heard this CD on several other brands but none brought the vocal to the fore as much as these. When cranked up, to the sound of 'No One Knows - Queens Of The Stoneage', these loudspeakers never sounded harsh, never offended the listener, and packed a tight, consistent punch. The Dublin music scene was about to be spoiled!" said a clearly impressed Colbert. As well as sound quality, size was a consideration when choosing the system as the venue has a low ceiling and it was important that the flown boxes didn't affect the line of sight to the stage. "The Qi7s fitted the bill; a small box providing more than adequate power to reach all corners of the establishment," added Colbert.

"I am very happy and proud of the system that is now in place at Radio City," continued Colbert. "I've been lucky in that the owner of the premises felt the same way as me when it came to high standards. It is a flexible system capable of rising to any occasion, specced to the highest international standards. We have a 3-way split from the stage box to front of house, a monitor console and a forty channel run to two floors above, suitable for a live recording. Fortunately we didn't have to overcome any particularly bad acoustics in Radio City; our main obstacles were the pillars that are structurally necessary. But the wide dispersion of the Qi7s helps overcome these minor details. In fact one Qi7 saved us from buying two boxes of a brand with a narrower dispersion, which was another point in its favour," said Colbert.

The entire sound system was chosen and designed by Colbert, which meant dealing with three or four different companies. "I had the final say on every last cable that was installed. Having McDonnell Systems install the system was a blessing in disguise; not only were they a sound installation company, but also a lighting and visuals installation company, which gave a different perspective to the whole picture, not just Radio City. Thanks to McDonnell Systems the whole premises is a neatly symbiotic network of three venues and a 'mother pub', all interconnected, capable of meeting any requirements or last minute demands," concluded Colbert.

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