Since its revitalisation a decade ago, Madison Square Park has earned the love of New Yorkers with its landscaping, community activities, and a summer concert series. Dubbed The Oval Lawn Series, these concerts can draw over 1,000 people to enjoy blues, jazz, and folk acts with national recognition.

Madison Square ParkThe New York branch of respected consulting firm SIA Acoustics designs and implements the portable PA system anew each year, in order to put promising new equipment through a torturous, real-world test. This year, Danley Sound Labs’ Synergy Horn full-range and Tapped Horn subwoofer technologies were used for house sound and monitors, with a Danley DSLP48 signal processor at the front end. Concerts in the Park are held weekly throughout the summer, manned by SIA team Adam Shulman, Gino Pellicano and Chris Greco.

‘Danley Sound Labs seems to be gaining exposure recently,’ says SIA consultant , Adam Shulman. ‘We were curious not only to better understand their products first-hand, but also to gain an understanding of the company itself’.’

Shulman and colleagues from SIA Acoustics traveled to Gainesville, Georgia to take measurements and meet with company president Mike Hedden and others: ‘We had little doubt that their equipment would measure favourably, with a thinker such as Tom Danley behind the designs. Of equal importance, however, is the ability for a company to support its product both on an immediate basis (on the day of a load-in or during an installation), and for years down the line. As consultants, clients rely on us to make recommendations that consider these factors, just as much as the technical ones. ‘They were pleased to find that the company is making the move from good to great in that regard. He cited the hiring of industry veteran Paul Giansante to the position of national sales manager as an indication that Danley is tooling up to meet future demands.

The stage set-up was designed by Jeremy Billig of McLaren Engineering, the same firm involved in design of the stage for Cirque du Soleil’s KA and touring stages for The Rolling Stones and *NSYNC, among others. The stage is constructed and deconstructed for the day of a performance, leaving the park to greener vistas on off days. Additionally, the wind-rated stage is supported exclusively by two vertical lengths of truss, without counterweights or guy wires. ‘The entire set-up is broken down and rebuilt every week,’ Shulman confirms. ‘It’s hard on the gear. It gets rained on and bakes in the sun, and is loaded and unloaded just as it would be on a tour. But we feel that this is a great opportunity to further our understanding of advantages and weaknesses of a product.

‘The aesthetic and logistical requirements of this series dictate a high level of production from a small footprint. A gigantic stage and loudspeaker system wasn’t an option,’ Shulman adds.

The system uses two Danley SH-96 full-range boxes in a stereo configuration, with two SM-60F compact molded horns to serve the audience areas at the sides of the stage. Four DBH-218 subwoofers provide low-frequency reinforcement, arranged in an ‘expanded cardioid’ configuration to cover the 270° audience. On the 12-ft by 24-ft stage, eight SH-LPM monitors provide monitoring for the musicians. A Danley DSLP48 processor conditions both the input from an Avid Profile console and the output to a rack of Lab.gruppen (house) and Yamaha (stage) amplifiers.

Broadband pattern control is important in almost every sound reinforcement system, but at Madison Square Park it is especially critical. ‘Since the park is in the middle of Manhattan, the background noise level presents some real challenges,’ explains Shulman. ‘In fact, one of the park’s two stage positions is immediately adjacent to the 23rd Street bus station. The bus stops right behind the stage.’

With so much to compete with and so many acoustic instruments on stage, every decibel of gain-before-feedback is precious. ‘Danley’s focus on very directional horn technologies was compelling for us. The audience sits in front of the stage, of course, but it also sits on the sides of the stage. The coverage provided by the SH-96s and SM-60Fs is complete without allowing the house sound to leak onto the stage. Even at low frequencies, we utilize a directional subwoofer array to maintain this pattern control, as we often have acoustic guitars and basses on stage.

The Madison Square Park Conservancy, which organises events and maintains the park, was reportedly pleased by the output that the modest collection of Danley boxes delivered. ‘This is not “turn it to 11” rock-and-roll and we’re not pushing the system to the limit by any stretch but this venue has distinct challenges,’ says Shulman. ‘We’re impressed with the simplicity, output-to-size ratio and substantial pattern control of the Danley product – all of which are critical for a stage populated by stellar musicians and a discerning audience.


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