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Stanford University’s Laurence Frost Amphitheater Equipped With d&b audiotechnik GSL And Soundscape

Audio West upgrades reinforcement for 8,000-capcity venue in Palo Alto, California with GSL line arrays over SL-SUB and a DS100 to run the d&b Soundscape platform.
d&b GSL arrays at the Laurence Frost Amphitheater at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California.

The 82-year-old Laurence Frost Amphitheater is a prominent fixture at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. It first opened in 1937 and was the site of commencement ceremonies for the university until 1984. The venue was recently updated with GSL line arrays and Soundscape from d&b audiotechnik.

Located in the University’s arts district, the newly renovated Frost Amphitheater officially kicked off its concert season in mid-July with ODESZA followed by Lionel Richie and continuing into early November but not before playing host to Willie Nelson. As part of the season, Stanford Live, the umbrella for the Frost Amphitheater and Bing Concert Hall partnered with Goldenvoice (creators of Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival and local promoter of over 600 Bay Area concerts annually) and the San Francisco Symphony.

The extensively renovated amphitheater accommodates up to 8,000 people and can be positioned either as general admission standing in all sections, or reserved seating available in the meadow and lower bowl with general admission in the lawn section. It includes the addition of a brand-new stage and other front- and back-of-house amenities that improve conditions for audience members and performers.

“We started working with Stanford University in early 2014 providing rental systems for Bing Concert Hall, which eventually turned into a permanent installation of d&b Y-Series for the main system and Y-Series point source for sides and rear fills,” states Audio West owner, Glenn Hatch. “A demo took place at d&b Americas headquarters in Asheville on the Soundscape system which resulted in the University’s decision to install a GSL loudspeaker system combined with Soundscape as part of the temporary system for Frost.”

For the San Francisco Symphony, Hatch states that Audio West augmented the standard stereo system with surround loudspeakers running the Soundscape En-Space. “This allowed us to apply sonic signatures and emulate the acoustics of the Bing Concert Hall, a more fitting acoustic environment for classical music, for their outdoor concerts. The entire Soundscape system was up and running in less than an hour and didn’t require any tuning or calibration.”

“Going into Frost we knew we needed a PA that could faithfully reproduce a huge variety of content, but we also had a responsibility to be good neighbors and minimize our impact outside of the amphitheater,” states Egan O’Rourke, production manager and audio engineer for Stanford Live, Bing Concert Hall, and Frost Amphitheater. “Early in the process, Nick Malgieri generated a NoizCalc prediction of the SL-Series that looked extremely promising in terms of emissions control, and the real-world measurements we’ve taken have been very consistent with those expectations.” NoizCalc is the environmental noise simulation software from d&b.

The broadband directivity control of the SL-Series helps to keep even coverage within the venue while simultaneously reducing SPL towards classrooms, offices, and residential areas. The University evaluated multiple audio solutions and with the help of a third-party noise measurement company it was determined that the SL-Series surpassed expectations. Systems were measured within four zones including three impact areas outside of the venue.

O’Rourke said that augmenting the GSL system with En-Space was a great way to make the San Francisco Symphony shows more enveloping for all of the listeners even all of the way to the back of the bowl. “It added a subtle sense of space that made the experience feel more natural.”

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The standard Frost Amphitheater d&b system rental provided for this past season included 12 per side GSL for mains, 8 x SL-SUBs, 5 x Y10P loudspeakers for front fills, 2 x DS10 Dante interface audio networks, and 18 x D80 amplifiers. Additional equipment was added for the San Francisco Symphony concerts including 12 x Y10P surround loudspeakers, 3 x D20 amplifiers, and a DS100 to run the d&b Soundscape platform.

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