How a d&b audiotechnik Upgrade Helps Metro Celebrate Its 40th Anniversary

A band rocks out in front of a lively crown with blue and purple light splashing down and a d&b A-series sound system providing quality audio.
(Image credit: d&b audiotechnik)

A variety of indie and alternative bands play at the popular, intimate Metro concert venue in Chicago. Its roster has maintained a delicate balance between national headliners and local up-and-comers. With every musical movement that has swept across Chicago—and the country—Metro has booked the key players on all platforms. Founder Joe Shanahan has championed countless artists on the Metro stage including pop-punk royalty Alkaline Trio, Chance the Rapper, Jamila Woods, Liz Phair, Mavis Staples, Shirley Manson, and alt-rock pioneers Smashing Pumpkins, all of whom have laid their roots in Metro as a business, sanctuary, and springboard.

Ayre Productions of Chicago is a turnkey, full event production and system integration solution company who recently upgraded Metro’s existing loudspeaker system to a d&b (opens in new tab) A-Series loudspeaker system. “The A-Series helped in a huge way, by being able to focus audio onto the main floor and help to create an even dispersion across it. Adding the balcony fills gave the balcony its own “little” yet powerful presence as it was never there before,” said John Wagner, co-owner, Ayre Productions.

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“The system is remarkable, well designed, and set up for this unique room," added Shanahan. "Both the main floor and the balcony now have the balance that we have been seeking for many years. The clean and clear sound combined with the d&b dynamics is what we expect to provide for the artists and for the patrons we welcome into our hall. I have listened to many d&b systems around the country, and I am thrilled with the result that Ayre and d&b have delivered to our venue.”

A dimly lit stage ready for a concert at the Metro Chicago.

(Image credit: d&b audiotechnik)

Wagner said the ceilings at Metro are high at about 22 feet. The main floor is all open, and there is a balcony that wraps all the way around it. “The room had previous installed treatment which is decent. The ceiling is even treated. The new system fits perfectly onto truss towers, and the loudspeakers fade away. Compared to the old system, the A-Series clusters are a fraction of the size, yet twice the output.” 

The system was partially designed by one of the Metro’s sound engineers, Ben Gordon, who mixes sound at the venue. “I asked if I could change a few things and input my thoughts, which was approved, and what was installed was a uniquely designed collaboration,” Wagner explained. "The main FOH speaker set up is four ALi60’s per side flown horizontally directly next to the stage, powered by three 40D amplifiers and three SL-GSUB’s, powered by two D80 amps, under the stage. The balcony fills are two 24S point sources, flown above the main arrays, and a pair of 44S loudspeakers right in front of the center balcony lip. Although the system is flown horizontally, several ideas were run through ArrayCalc to get the best position and coverage for the room.”

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d&b A-Series is a system that is as flexible as a point source cluster, as controllable as a line array and introduces advanced features that alter the reality of perceived solutions to challenging application realities. Variable splay angles allow arrays of up to four A-Series loudspeakers to adapt precisely to venue shapes in fine increments. Broad distribution is achieved by flying in either horizontal or vertical configurations with a minimal number of loudspeakers.

Positive feedback from both fans and artists has proven the new sound system has already made its audible mark on the venue’s stage, having already been used during a handful of Metro’s special 40th anniversary celebrations this year, including intimate sets with Billy Strings, Green Day, Idles, Patti Smith and her band, Peaches, and Yeah Yeah Yeahs, just to name a few. The legendary independent venue plans to celebrate its 40th with more special events throughout July 2023.

The AVNetwork staff are storytellers focused on the professional audiovisual and technology industry. Their mission is to keep readers up-to-date on the latest AV/IT industry and product news, emerging trends, and inspiring installations.