New York City’s Birdland is one of the most legendary jazz clubs in the world, an intimate room where aficionados can enjoy the world’s greatest jazz artists in an up-close environment. Perhaps more than most venues, the sound system at Birdland is a vital part of the musical experience.
Birdland has taken its in-house audio to new heights with a host of Harman's JBL loudspeakers, including six VRX932LAP powered Constant Curvature loudspeakers, a pair of ASB6112 subwoofers, two Control 29AV loudspeakers, and six PRX612M powered portable PA speakers used as stage monitors.
“As the engineer at Birdland, the most important thing for me to be able to do is amplify the musicians’ stage performances in the most naturally sounding way so that the system is almost invisible,” said Birdland house engineer, Richard Bernard. “The legendary musicians who perform at the club almost always have their own very distinct sound and that’s what people want to hear: ‘that sound’.”
To achieve this goal, Birdland hung six JBL VRX932LAP loudspeakers directly above the stage facing the audience—two facing downstage towards the main house, two located stage right towards one side of the room and two on stage left facing the rear side of the bar. In addition, two Control 29AV loudspeakers are hung at the far side of the bar, giving total coverage for the room. The two ASB6112 subwoofers are hung downstage on the left and right front corners.
“I’m running the system in mono, and the subwoofers are connected to the spare aux send on the mixing desk, so I’m free to choose which channels I send to the subs,” Bernard said. “I used to have to mix for the house and the bar would basically get what they would get. That’s no longer a problem as we’ve had many compliments on being able to hear from that side of the room.”
That said, the most noticeable improvement in the system is the level of clarity, according to Bernard. “This is a massive help because the response of instruments and vocals is very true and I’m not forced to just keep turning up an instrument in order for people to hear it—once everything is in its own little pocket in the mix, it just sounds great.”
In addition to JBL loudspeakers, Birdland installed a variety of additional Harman equipment, including AKG microphones, dbx processing and Crown amplifiers.