Skip to main content

How d&b Loudspeakers Bring Immersive Experiences for Experimental Artists

The Momentary adds the d&B XSL system to help inspire creativity.
(Image credit: d&b audiotechnik)

The Momentary is a contemporary art space in Bentonville, AR, offering a diversity of dynamic, engaging experiences across visual, performing, and culinary arts. The Momentary was completed in February 2020 as a new satellite location of Crystal Bridges—with a special emphasis on performing arts. The facility boasts industrial-modern architecture and five performance spaces—each with their own unique sonic and environmental character. When paired with the highest quality of immersive sound reinforcement, the facility allows them to bring in experimental artists and sound designers alike for extended residencies. Five of the Momentary’s designated performance spaces house d&b audiotechnik (opens in new tab) loudspeaker systems, enabling premium audio experiences to compliment theater, dance, film, live music, and more.

“The new d&b XSL system was installed in time for the FreshGrass/Bentonville Festival held May 20-21 thanks to the efforts of Gateway Studios & Production Services, St. Louis, MO,” said David Embree, audiovisual production supervisor at the Momentary. “The rig is installed on a bespoke stage from Mountain Productions (Wilkes-Barre, PA) under our Canopy, a tensile structure originally installed at The Domain in Sydney, Australia. We inaugurated it in mid-May with Old Crow Medicine Show, Brittney Spencer, and Smokey & the Mirror. All engineers were delighted.”

[From Epic Dance Scenes to Singing in the Rain, the Versatile d&b Y-Series Delivers] (opens in new tab)

Embree had his heart set on installing the new d&b XSL as a fully mobile rig that could load in and out as necessary for off-site shows. The PA allows for multiple uses of the system and the ability to deploy in different areas around the Momentary. The XSL system is the newest addition to the d&b SL-Series and is recognized as a modern line array systems offering complete broadband directivity control. Additionally, this mobile XSL system was among the first to deploy. 

"The rear rejection truly lived up to the hype. The imaging and detail in clarity were just exceptional. I also really appreciated just how even the coverage was across the field. It's a gentle roll-off of volume without comb filtering or strange EQ shading that happens with other systems." Embree said. "It has allowed us to mix and trust that the system will deliver to all the seats, which is nice when you're doing a show—it's one less thing to worry about and makes for an easier day."

The Momentary adds the d&B XSL system to help inspire creativity.

(Image credit: d&b audiotechnik)

Main arrays consist of six d&b XSL8 over two XSL12 per side. Four XSL8 per side for outfalls, four Y10P for front fills, six SL-GSUB for the low end. Monitors are d&b M4s supplemented by V7Ps and V-SUBs for those who need to ‘feel it’.” All cabinets are powered by D80 amplifiers.

“As we went into the design process for the festival field, my primary concerns were controlling spill, maintaining sightlines, and ease of use,” commented Embree. “Our Canopy makes a lovely proscenium arch to frame the stage but causes some significant challenges; namely, it puts a highly reflective parabolic surface above the play space and forces a rather low trim height for our main speakers. We’re expecting to present everything from earth-shaking electronic acts and symphonic orchestral works to bluegrass legends circled around a single mic. We wanted a sonically honest rig where any audio team, regardless of genre, could focus on THEIR sound without feeling like they were fighting the tent or the system. But we also needed to deliver 105db at every seat without blocking sightlines.”

“I’ve been a supporter of d&b for quite a while,” said Argeo Ascani, programmer, music and festivals. “My last gig at EMPAC had a substantial selection of their speakers and we certainly put them through their paces. Getting d&b for our festival field was a no compromise point for David and me."

[AV Network's top stories, product news, and expert insights] (opens in new tab) 

Embree explained that the SL-Series design directs all the energy to the listening plane without polluting the Momentary Green stage with errant reflections from the tent, resulting in a lower noise floor and more headroom onstage. “This opens opportunities for creative mic placement in an environment that would otherwise dictate close mic’ing everything,” Embree explained. “The XSL cabinets deliver big box SPL, but in a much smaller form factor. So, the arrays can contain smaller AND fewer cabinets for less intrusion into sightlines. Coupled with the SL-GSUB, we can still deliver the goods at the back of the field.”

In July of 2020, Ford AV completed installation of several d&b systems that were designed by Threshold Acoustics into Fermentation Hall (maximum capacity of 200), the RØDE House, and Arvest Bank Courtyard, that have seating for 400 (standing 600).

“In Fermentation Hall, we have the immersive d&b Soundscape system powered by the incredible DS-100 Signal Engine with both the En-Scene and En-Space modules,” noted Embree. “Our 37 d&b-installed speakers are distributed in four zones: four Yi7Ps and a pair of Yi-SUB for Main LCR; three 8S for front downfill; five 8S per side for surround; four 8S for surround rear; four 8S for surround rear balcony.

“As a contemporary art space, we present a dizzying variety of disciplines and genres. Our programming schedule requires flexibility with quick transitions between our retractable theater seating to a flat-floor for standing-room concerts. Regardless of what kind of art we’re presenting, Soundscape gives us absolute spatial control of the objects within the soundfield. We can match the psychoacoustic expectations for each performance with perfect coverage of every seat, all without having to move anything more than a mouse and a patch cable.”

[9 Large-Venue Projectors and Key Features Experts Recommend as Live Events Return] (opens in new tab) 

The RØDE House includes a d&b V-Series rig: V10Ps for LCR with a pair of V-SUB and a pair of 10S-D for delays. “Often, the room is used for special events where LCR is not ideal, so we have eight d&b 10S-D on the walls around the room for more flexible coverage options,” added Embree.

The Arvest Bank Courtyard system is equipped with d&b 10d amplifiers, and 8S, 10S, and Yi10P loudspeakers. It is almost exclusively used for background music and for support of art videos projected on a 90-foot-tall tower façade.

“At the Momentary, we strive to deliver world class artistic experiences to our audiences, and d&b makes that so much easier,” Embree said. “The technology of the SL-Series meets our needs precisely. Our experience with d&b’s workflow, the outpouring of compliments on our quality of sound, and the excellent customer service we’ve received from the d&b audiotechnik Americas team made it an easy decision to continue the relationship as we grow into this exciting next phase."

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.