Lab.gruppen Overhauls Ted Mann Concert Hall

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With the addition of Lab.gruppen C 48:4 amplifiers at the University of Minnesota's Ted Mann Concert Hall, the U of MN School of Music has improved the clarity and quality of sound within the venue.

Dedicated in 1993, and located in Minneapolis, MN's West Bank Arts Quarter, the 1,126-seat theatre/concert hall is a multi-purpose venue, hosting lectures, School of Music ensemble concerts, performances and master classes by the likes of the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis and others, as well as a various community events.

"Because we need natural sound at both low and higher volumes, for both speech and music, subtlety is key," said Phillip O'Toole, U of MN Music Department Technical Coordinator.

In 2009, O'Toole noticed 'a scratching sound' coming from the hall's aging custom made centre cluster. "It was only noticeable at low volumes. I thought the PA had a bad driver, so I flew in the cluster and combed through every component - which is quite a chore - but couldn't find it. Turned out it was a bad amplifier. When I hooked up eight channels of Lab, it sounded amazing. It just came to life."

In summer 2011, O'Toole added another four channels of Lab.gruppen. He intends to replace the system's remaining amplifiers with Labs as soon as funds become available. "I often joke about dumping water on the older amps," he said. "If they fail, we'll have to replace them."

Swapping out six of the pre-existing amplifiers with the C 48:4s allowed O'Toole to consolidate the venue's amps in one rack.

"They've saved a significant amount of space and installing them was easy to do. The phoenix connectors really lend themselves well to a permanent installation application."

Currently, the new C Series are driving Ted Mann's custom loudspeaker array and the venue's, four-box, stereo, main floor speaker system. Beyond having the system re-tuned by Minneapolis-based, Audio Logic Systems, nothing else has changed, O'Toole explains, adding that his choice of Lab was based on his use of the product during an install at the 2009 Minnesota State Fair.

"Once I had that experience I knew I wanted them for our space, and the interesting thing about this is that we're using the same speakers, processing and console; we've only swapped out the amplifiers and I've noticed a marked difference."

Phillip O'Toole has been the lead sound engineer and production manager at Ted Mann Concert Hall for twelve years and has advised the U of MN Music Department on all equipment purchases and installations at both the venue and the Music Department's main building, Ferguson Hall. Over his twenty years in professional audio, he has split his time equally between live production and recording and has recently begun doing sound design for local theatrical productions.

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