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EXCLUSIVE: Hollywood Bowl updates with L-Acoustics and DiGiCo

The Hollywood Bowl’s new rig features L-Acoustics K1 line arrays driven by a DiGiCo SD7 digital console; an identical 52-fader SD7 is available for stage monitoring.

Described by system designer and mixer Fred Vogler (pictured, right) as a “continuously evolving design that takes advantage of the very latest sound technology”, the Hollywood Bowl’s new rig features L-Acoustics K1 line arrays driven by a DiGiCo SD7 digital console; an identical 52-fader SD7 is available for stage monitoring.

“Sound coverage is smooth and remarkably even from the front boxes all the way back to the rear seats [of the large, open-air amphitheatre] more than 450 feet (137m) from the array,” Vogler stated during last week’s evaluation sessions. The 17,500-seat, Hollywood Bowl serves as the summer home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, as well as the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra (HBO); it has hosted numerous legendary music performances and featured in many movies in its 90-year lifetime.

The main left/right array, which replaces a much larger V-DOSC/dV-DOSC system, comprises 16 K1 three-way, four KARA two-way and four K1-SB subwoofer enclosures flown per side, augmented by a centre cluster of eight KARA cabinets for front seating areas, and an SB28 subwoofer deck system. To be less obtrusive, the K1 arrays were custom delivered in white. A bank of LA8 and LA4 amplifiers power the new system.

“The combination of our new K1 and SD7s is totally remarkable,” added Michael Shepherd (pictured,left), head of the Hollywood Bowl’s audio/video department. “The new system will provide enhanced sound quality for not only our classical-music performances by the LA Philharmonic, but also concerts for a wide cross section of jazz, opera and rock acts.”

“I had used SD7 consoles during the Star Wars: In Concert tour several years ago,” Vogler recalled, “and was impressed with the easy-to-use interface and sound quality. The SD7 at front-of-house represents a perfect replacement for our [Yamaha] PM5D console, which now will be used by guest mixers; the SD7’s proven in-use reliability and redundant-engine design are essential for us. And the fact that DiGiCo consoles were used last year on the majority of Billboard’s Top 10 Grossing Tours was definitely a cherry on the cake!”

“The K1 system is fast and agile,” Shepherd continued, “with smooth, even coverage across the entire frequency spectrum – I measured a response that was within a couple of dBs throughout the seating areas. We have the only K1 rig installed at a permanent venue; all the others are used in touring systems. This is definitely the ‘Cadillac of Sound Systems’ – it’s performing exactly as we expected.”

“I have never heard an outdoor sound system that sounds better that this new K1/SD7 combination,” concluded Vogler, who has mixed sound at the venue for the past nine seasons. “And I don’t want anywhere else to sound better than The Hollywood Bowl!”

The venue’s summer season opens officially on 22 June with a concert by the HBO and the induction of Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler and Joe Perry into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame, following concerts by Fleetwood Mac, Andrea Bocelli, Björk and The Playboy Jazz Festival. The Bowl was completely refurbished in 2004 with a new acoustic shell, lighting and sound system at a reported cost of $18 million.

Story: Mel Lambert