Manhattan’s iHeartRadio Theater New York City, the East Coast counterpart to the company’s flagship Los Angeles venue, regularly hosts a steady stream of A-list music artists, from Mary J Blige and Ed Sheeran to Muse and Blink-182.
When it was deemed that the theater’s sound system was not up to par with the best touring systems used by top-notch artists, the decision was made to have See Factor install L-Acoustics loudspeakers in the intimate 200-seat space.
With tickets to shows reserved for iHeart’s own subscribers, the bands’ fan clubs and other exclusive channels, what those fortunate ticketholders experience is a close-up interaction with some of the best musicians in the world, standing on a stage that’s barely a foot off the floor, and sharing the show with millions who’ll watch it streamed live through the iHeartRadio app and the more than 850 iHeartRadio stations throughout the country.
Since April, fans at the shows have now been hearing artists through the new L-Acoustics loudspeakers. The new system comprises two hangs of three ARCS II speakers per side augmented by four KS28 subwoofers under the stage, all powered by three AVB-enabled LA12X amplified controllers. Three X15HiQ coaxial loudspeakers are used as a fill for the theater’s raised VIP section.
The sound onstage features eight X12 and four X15HiQ loudspeakers used as monitors, buttressed by a pair of SB18 subs. The X Series speakers are powered using a mix of LA8 and LA4X amplified controllers.
iHeart’s technical director, Stephen Wyker, says the previous sound system had been the iHeartRadio Theater’s weak point since it opened in 2008. “When you look at the caliber of artists that are performing here regularly, the sound system was not at that level,” he says. “Now, it’s like night and day. It’s amazing.”
Wyker previously guided the technology at Webster Hall, another New York music venue where L-Acoustics Kara arrays met rider requirements for artists globally. He says there was never a doubt that L-Acoustics was destined for the iHeartRadio Theater eventually. “We wanted the performers and the audience to have the best sound experience possible, and now they do,” he says. “The fidelity is incredible.”
The iHeartRadio Theater is not a typical live-music venue—it was designed from the start as a space to record and stream live shows. That meant the space needed to be an acoustically controlled environment.
“It’s a pretty dead space, in order to control reflections and volume,” Wyker explains. “So, the sound system has to be able to liven the sound up, and the ARCS II does that wonderfully. And the bass is fantastic. The ARCS II is full range, so we’d get plenty of low end from those alone. But when the KS28’s kick in, you can really feel the bass.”
What feels best, though, is having a sound system that can handle the venue’s challenges and meet the expectations of the top-line artists who perform there. “What’s really great is now we have a sound system that’s as good as what these artists play through at their own shows,” he says. “And it’s probably the same one they tour with.”