Completed in February 2020 as a satellite location of Crystal Bridges with a special emphasis on the performing arts, The Momentary is a contemporary art space in Bentonville, Arkansas. Its performance spaces are equipped d&b audiotechnik loudspeaker systems to support theatre, dance, film and live music.

The facility was converted from a cheese manufacturing plant using industrial-modern architecture and offers five performance spaces – each with their own unique sonic and environmental character.

Sam Bush Performs with d&b XSL (Pic: Ironside Photography)‘The d&b XSL system was installed in time for the FreshGrass/Bentonville Festival in May thanks to the efforts of Gateway Studios & Production Services,’ says Audio-Visual Production Supervisor, David Embree. ‘The rig is installed on a bespoke stage from Mountain Productions under our Canopy, a tensile structure originally installed at The Domain in Sydney, Australia. We inaugurated it in mid-May with Old Crow Medicine Show, Brittney Spencer, and Smokey & the Mirror. All engineers were delighted.’

Embree had his eye on installing the new d&b XSL as a fully mobile rig that could load in and out as necessary for off-site shows. The PA allows for multiple uses of the system and the ability to deploy in different areas around The Momentary. ‘The rear rejection truly lived up to the hype,’ Embree says. ‘The imaging and detail in clarity were just exceptional.

‘I also appreciated how even the coverage was across the field. It’s a gentle roll-off of volume without comb filtering or strange EQ shading that happens with other systems. It has allowed us to mix and trust that the system will deliver to all the seats.’

Main arrays comprise six d&b XSL8 over two XSL12 per side. Four XSL8 per side for out fill, four Y10P for front fill, and six SL-GSubs for the low end. Monitors are d&b M4s supplemented by V7Ps and V-Subs for those who need to ‘feel it’. All cabinets are powered by d&b D80 amplifiers.

‘As we went into the design process for the festival field, my primary concerns were controlling spill, maintaining sightlines, and ease of use,’ Embree recalls. ‘Our Canopy makes a lovely proscenium arch to frame the stage but causes some significant challenges – it puts a highly reflective parabolic surface above the play space and forces a rather low trim height for our main speakers. We’re expecting to present everything from earth-shaking electronic acts and symphonic orchestral works to bluegrass legends circled around a single mic. We wanted a sonically honest rig where any audio team, regardless of genre, could focus on their sound without feeling like they were fighting the tent or the system. But we also needed to deliver 105dB at every seat without blocking sightlines.’

Embree says that the SL-Series design directs all the energy to the listening plane without polluting the Momentary Green stage with errant reflections from the tent, resulting in a lower noise floor and more headroom onstage. ‘This opens opportunities for creative mic placement in an environment that would otherwise dictate close miking everything. The XSL cabinets deliver big box SPL, but in a much smaller form factor. So, the arrays can contain smaller and fewer cabinets for less intrusion into sightlines. Coupled with the SL-GSubs, we can still deliver the goods at the back of the field.’

Fermentation Hall with d&b Soundscape Y-Series E6 (Pic: Ironside Photography)In 2020, Ford AV completed installation of several d&b systems designed by Threshold Acoustics into Fermentation Hall (maximum capacity 200), the Røde House and Arvest Bank Courtyard, that have seating for 400 (standing 600).

‘In Fermentation Hall, we have the immersive d&b Soundscape system powered by the incredible DS100 Signal Engine with both the En-Scene and En-Space modules,’ Embree says. ‘Our 37 d&b-installed speakers are distributed in four zones – four Yi7Ps and a pair of Yi-Sub for Main LCR; three 8S for front down fill; five 8S per side for surround; and four 8S for surround rear; four 8S for surround rear balcony. As a contemporary art space, we present a dizzying variety of disciplines and genres. Our programming schedule requires flexibility with quick transitions between our retractable theatre seating to a flat-floor for standing-room concerts. Regardless of what kind of art we’re presenting, Soundscape gives us absolute spatial control of the objects within the soundfield. We can match the psychoacoustic expectations for each performance with perfect coverage of every seat, all without having to move anything more than a mouse and a patch cable.’

The Røde House uses a d&b V-Series rig: V10Ps for LCR with a pair of V-Subs and a pair of 10S-D for delays. ‘Often, the room is used for special events where LCR is not ideal, so we have eight d&b 10S-D on the walls around the room for more flexible coverage options,’ Embree says.

The Arvest Bank Courtyard system is equipped with d&b 10d amplifiers, and 8S, 10S, and Yi10P loudspeakers. It is almost exclusively used for background music and for support of art videos projected on a 90ft-tall tower façade.

‘At The Momentary, we strive to deliver world-class artistic experiences to our audiences, and d&b makes that so much easier,’ Embree says. ‘The technology of the SL-Series meets our needs precisely. Our experience with d&b’s workflow, the outpouring of compliments on our quality of sound, and the excellent customer service we’ve received from the d&b audiotechnik Americas team made it an easy decision to continue the relationship as we grow into this exciting next phase.

‘As Crystal Bridges and the Momentary, we recognise our role as settlers and guests in the Northwest Arkansas region,’ he adds. ‘We acknowledge the Caddo, Quapaw, and Osage as well as the many Indigenous caretakers of this land and water. We appreciate the enduring influence of the vibrant, diverse, and contemporary cultures of Indigenous peoples. We are conscious of the role in colonisation that museums have played. As cultural institutions, we have a responsibility to engage in the dismantling of historical and systemic invisibility of Indigenous peoples past, present, and future. We choose to intentionally hold ourselves accountable to appropriate conversation, representation, connection and education.


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