Much of New York’s manufacturing legacy is found in the Maspeth neighborhood of Queens, where 19th-century factory and warehouse structures still stand even as the areas around them rapidly transform. Small wonder that as more nearby neighborhoods like Williamsburg and Greenpoint shed their manufacturing-era roots to gentrification, this multi-ethnic enclave has become home to an increasing number of edgy downtown-type events like raves and techno concerts in recent years.
The hub for many of these is Knockdown Center, located in a 120-year-old former glass factory that later became the manufacturer of collapsible door frame products, hence the name. What Knockdown Center mostly makes now is music: it’s hosted concerts by artists including LCD Soundsystem, Louie Vega, and Hot Chip, as well as art exhibits and events such as comedian Eric Andre’s 40th birthday party. And now, Knockdown Center has sound as modern as its brick walls are vintage, thanks to a recently integrated L-Acoustics concert sound system designed and installed by Boulevard Carroll Entertainment Group.
“We were long overdue to get something more substantial,” says Knockdown Center Marketing Manager Daniel Martin-McCormick of the new L-Acoustics system. “Especially with a very busy calendar that covers a wide array of different genres, including a lot of electronic music that really needs powerful sound, as well as world-class pop and metal performers who also need a different type of impactful.” In addition to its highly varied show lineup, Knockdown Center also has to accommodate a wide range of event scales—“sometimes it’s 3,200 people, sometimes it’s 1,800, or even under 1,000,” he says. “So, the new rig had to be something that would cover that full range. It couldn’t under-power a larger show or over-power a smaller one.”
That’s exactly what the new L-Acoustics system accomplishes. The main system comprises 14 K2 divided into a left-right array with two A15 per side as out-fills. In addition, seven K3 per side as well as two A15 per side are arrayed as delay speakers further down the length of the main hall. These, along with four A15 fills and four Kara II front-fills, become the main PA system when only a smaller portion of the room is used for an event. Only the system’s KS21 subs and Kara II front-fills need to be moved for this reconfiguration; the rest of the retuning is done via presets in the LA Network Manager software and P1 processor. A combination of LA12X and LA4X power the entire system, including an assortment of X12 speakers used as wedge monitors on stage.
“This is a challenging venue in that there are a lot of possibilities for reflections, including the brick walls, the floor, lots of wooden and iron beams, and more,” explains Daryl Moore, Boulevard Carroll Entertainment Group’s Head of Audio. “There are also a lot of empty spaces in the rafters where sound can get lost. Combining that with their need to adjust for different-sized events and shows was pretty complex. Fortunately, the L-Acoustics systems were more than enough to meet all those needs.”
Anthony Fischetta, CFO at Boulevard Carroll Entertainment Group, says the L-Acoustics system makes sense as a business proposition for Knockdown Center since venues must be as flexible as possible to accommodate a wide range and size of events. “It’s become much more competitive, and they want to book as many different types of events as possible, so the sound system has to be able to deal with everything,” he says. “The way we have the system designed and deployed, it can handle everything from big music concerts to more intimate art events, and every event gets the sound it needs.” And, he adds, the P1’s deft processing helps ensure that the sound stays on the audience and away from reflective surfaces, assuring the quality of the coverage.
The maiden voyage for the venue’s L-Acoustics system took place on July 29, when the venue hosted OUTLIER with Bonobo doing a DJ set and performances by Jacques Greene, Romare, O’Flynn, and Juan Maclean. “Knockdown Center’s first shows with the new rig have covered a wide range of styles, and the sound has more than kept up with them all,” says Moore. “The bands and artists have absolutely loved the sound.”
Knockdown’s Martin-McCormick agrees. “K2 offers exceptional, crystal-clear, exquisite sound,” he says. “I think that with our variety of programming and genres, plus the variety of the event sizes being both a challenge and an asset, our new PA can accommodate everything that we’ve got going on here. It lets us give our artists and audiences the best possible experience.”