One of the longest-standing hotels in Downtown Los Angeles, Hotel Figueroa has been an iconic part of the area for nearly a century. Following a two-year restoration inspired by its original 1926 Spanish architecture, the hotel re-opened for guests in 2021. However, its legacy audio systems were encountering issues and needed an upgrade from the systems integration team at Drp, who relied on audio amplifiers from LEA Professional to power the historic venue, its restaurants, and other spaces.
With 268 rooms and suites spread over 14 floors and a pool nestled within a botanical oasis in L.A.’s most dynamic neighborhood, Hotel Figueroa, part of the Hyatt group, is renowned for its style and close proximity to the Crypto.com Arena and L.A. Live, formerly known as Staples Center, making it the ideal destination for travelers.
When the hotel decided they needed to upgrade the entire audio system, Drp was brought in to create a system that met their new standards. Drp is a low-voltage cabling contractor based in Los Angeles.
“This was a challenging big project; when we arrived on site we quickly realized it wouldn’t just be about installing a new system. We needed to re-do the infrastructure already in place,” said Dan Potvin, founder and owner at Drp. “When we first inspected the old system and pulled out the rack it looked like a spider’s web back there. There was no signal wire but data infrastructure wire, so the system was not secure. We had to fix that first before we could even think about installing the LEA amps.”
Potvin focused on a few main areas of the hotel including two prominent restaurants, Sparrow and La Casita as well as the pool area. Initially the team came up against supply chain issues with some manufacturers not having amplifiers in stock. This led them to try LEA Professional which had amplifiers in stock and ready to ship. At first, Potvin admitted to being nervous about trying a new manufacturer but after seeing some familiar faces on LEA’s team he knew immediately that this was no start-up company but instead a firm with long standing industry heavyweights on board.
Ultimately Potvin specified four Connect Series 704 amplifiers to power a majority of the hotel. The Connect Series 704 is a 4-channel amplifier with 700 watts per channel. As part of the Network Connect Series, which are IoT-enabled professional-grade amplifiers, it is perfectly suited for small to medium-scale installations. The 704 features direct HiZ (70V or 100V) or LoZ selectable by channel. With three ways to connect, integrators can engage the built-in Wi-Fi access point, connect to the venue’s Wi-Fi, or use the FAST Ethernet to connect to any local area network via Cat5 or Cat6 cable.
“Going in with these amps and being able to program one channel to be 70V and one channel to be low impedance, that is huge,” said Potvin. “These have so many useful features, they are very unique within the industry, and that really makes my job easier.”
Adding to the legacy infrastructure at the hotel was the equipment racks, which were not typical audio system racks but instead IT racks that could not hold much equipment. For Potvin, the Connect Series and its 1U space saving design meant they were the perfect fit. One challenge the team usually faces when installing amplifiers in a hotel is ensuring that they are not accidentally powered off, especially when they need to run 24/7.
“I’m so glad the on/off button is hidden on the Connect Series, we have had so many issues before where the power button is right on the front of an amp and people accidentally hit the amps off,” said Potvin. “It seems simple, but that can be a real nightmare scenario for us.”
Potvin did need to fix one issue in the hotel after the install but was able to use the LEA Professional Web UI, so he never had to step foot in the AV room. The Web App UI is LEA Professional’s browser-based interface which allows local monitoring of every amplifier connected to the network from any phone, tablet, or PC. In addition, it allows users to view the status of every channel on any given amp. This alongside the remote-control LEA Cloud platform, ensures the integrator, in this case Potvin, is in full control of the system at all times.
“The first time a DJ was performing the mix was boosted 8-12db and those frequencies will knock you off your chair," explained Potvin. "I went down to fix it but didn’t even need to open my laptop. Instead, I logged on with my phone’s web browser and I was able to take the low end out in 20 seconds.”
Some areas of the hotel, particularly Sparrow restaurant, were acoustically challenging in terms of their configuration but Potvin was impressed with the power LEA Professional provided.
“Four LEA amps are powering the majority of the hotel and it's mind boggling, especially when you see how much audio is in there—it can get very loud,” commented Potvin. “The result was crisp, clear, non-distorted sound quality, even at high levels... it's very protective of the speakers in the system, and easy on an audience.”
In the future Potvin will be renovating other areas of the hotel and adding more LEA Professional amplifiers to the system.
“I mean, in a sense, it was a godsend that there were shipping issues and problems with other manufacturers getting products because it meant I found LEA and I’ve been using them on all my projects since. In an environment where the amplifiers will be on 24/7, I would only use LEA Professional.”