STS9 Hits the Brown Note in the Rockies


Ryan Knutson, co-founder of Brown Note Productions, Inc. is in the rather enviable position of being able to claim the iconic Red Rocks Amphitheatre as his local venue. Stir into the mix a six year tenure as FOH engineer for the eclectic Sound Tribe Sector Nine (STS9) who have just completed a sell-out US tour with a final flourish at Red Rocks and most would agree that job satisfaction is a box Knutson must have ticked some time ago.

A d&b audiotechnik loudspeaker system, comprising primarily Q-Series supported by B2 subwoofers, was the band’s choice, as Knutson makes clear, “Ultimately the band made the decision.” A choice that Knutson fully supports, “For the size I have not heard a box that can compete. It truly blows me away every time we use it. We spend more time mixing and less time tuning with the d&b. Let’s face it the B2s work very well and there are not many subs that can keep up. The d&b system reality reflects directly to an extremely consistent and easy-to-use PA.”

As a local, Knutson is intimately knowledgeable about Red Rocks’ peculiarities as a venue so he was in no doubt what extra sound reinforcement was required for STS9’s final shows. “The d&b J-Series is a more powerful box. With the variable weather elements of rain, wind and snow typical of this geographical setting, and the rarefied atmosphere at high altitude the long throw application of the Js made perfect sense. Quite simply they out perform most boxes up here. We now add flown J-SUBs in all of our Red Rocks arrays, they really add sonically to the experience for both the FOH engineers and the fans.”

STS9 are a difficult band to quantify; they don’t easily slide into one single genre and that can present a FOH engineer with certain challenges as Knutson acknowledges. “The band plays a wide range of material that keeps me on my toes throughout a performance, but essentially it’s all about the bottom end. Well, it’s also about the fidelity of the layers and sequences that accompany the live drums, bass, guitar, keys and percussion. So although the band is a big bass, electronic rock outfit, that doesn’t tell the whole story. In order to control the bottom we carry B2 subwoofers. They give us the energy and rounded bottom we are looking for. I have mixed STS9 for six years and, with d&b, the sound is definitely more consistent.”

Knutson sums it up enigmatically, as suits a band as tricky to define as STS9, “With the d&b systems I find the PA acts as a piece of transparent glass that projects the audio throughout the listening areas. Coming from mixing in nightclubs and theaters I have mixed on just about every loudspeaker you can imagine. I honestly love the d&b sound and feel my best nights are achieved using their systems.”

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