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Yamaha Hits the Right Note at Famous New York Jazz Club

Aug, 2011

Since opening its doors in 1981, the Blue Note in New York City has become one of the world’s premier jazz clubs, playing host to some of the genre’s greatest musicians. Jazz is renowned for its variation between strident and quiet, intricate pieces so, when the venue’s audio system needed to be upgraded, Yamaha’s TXn amplifiers were the perfect choice.

The Blue Note hosts a surprising variety of artists, from jazz legends like Ray Charles, Sarah Vaughan, Oscar Peterson and Dizzy Gillespie, via bluesman BB King and crooner Tony Bennett to modern hip-hop and R&B stars, including Lauryn Hill, Mos Def, Common and Lupe Fiasco.

Installed by audio specialists Petrix, the club’s layout and famous nightly opening made for a challenging installation.

“While the acoustic characteristics of the room are good, the venue is ‘in the round’ and there is only 15.5’ (4.7m) from the front of the stage to the wall at the rear of the venue, 30’ (9m) to the left and 46’ (14m) to the right. The ceiling is low and the 200 seats are lined up right against the stage, all the way to the walls,” says Petrix owner Amit Peleg.

Because of the layout and the music being mostly acoustic, 80% of the audience sits within 20’ (6m) of the stage, so a lot of stage sound is audible. As a result, the house system is used mainly to balance the sound coming from the stage. To achieve this there are three mix zones, designed to compensate for the position of instruments. For example, audience sitting house right hear mostly drums acoustically, while stage right projects more piano. The bar area is a third mix, as the stage volume is much lower in that area.

“We knew we needed DSP-based amplifiers,” says Amit. “A few months earlier, I tested a Yamaha TXn amplifier which impressed me with its quality of sound and control features. I have worked with other DSP-based amps before, but features in the TXn series gave us the extra control that we were looking for.

“I also knew from experience that I can trust Yamaha’s reliability, which is paramount in every installation we do. After reviewing all options and deciding on the model of speakers to use, we bought 12 TX4n amplifiers, one for each speaker in the room, so we could control each individual speaker separately. This also gave us the ability to customise DSP settings for the individual speakers, compensating for bass traps, extra acoustic absorption, dynamic limiting, and so on.”

Complementing the TXn amplifiers is a brand new Yamaha M7CL digital mixing console, complemented by an Apple iPad running the StageMix app.

“The Blue Note bought one of the first five M7CLs to arrive in the US when it was introduced. It worked very well, in fact lasting longer than any other console used by the club in its 30 year history,” says Amit. “When time came to upgrade the system, it was a natural choice to go with an M7CL again.”

However, this time there were two additional incentives for choosing the mixer. First was StageMix, because the Blue Note house engineer has to walk around the room frequently to balance out the instruments and PA system, achieving an even mix around the room.

“Now the engineer can walk around the room and mix the individual zones from their locations. There is no need to walk back and forth to the console, make changes and go back out to the zone to hear the changes, which is both inefficient and disturbs the audience,” notes Amit.

The second incentive was the M7CL’s latest Version 3 software, which allows the console’s third Ethersound port to be used with an AuviTran Network ASIO Driver, facilitating DAW recording without additional hardware. The Blue Note’s record label, Half Note Records, has released countless live recordings from the venue, some of which have won a Grammy award. Now, engineers can multi-track directly into Pro Tools for potential future release.

“Other than a couple of days after September 11th 2001, the Blue Note has opened every night for three decades. They were not going to make an exception for us and close for the installation! To overcome it, we installed the new system to be run simultaneously, side by side with the old system, until it was time to make the final switchover. But, it all went according to plan and we were ready on time for musician Bill Evans to debut the new system.”

“Since the new system was installed, we have had artists ranging from jazz greats Michel Legrand and Toots Thielemans to R&B legend Al Jarreau and hip-hop star Mos Def,” says Blue Note owner Steven Bensusan. “The new system has a versatility and range that can handle any genre being played, both customers and the artists have noticed a difference."


Products M7CL-48ES , TX4n
Location New York

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