When it comes to finding a place to listen to live music, choices range from dive bars to more acoustically refined venues. Among the latter here in the Mile High City is The Soiled Dove Underground, which recently upgraded its sound with the addition of a dLive C3500 digital mixing system from Allen & Heath.

Found in the heart of Denver’s Lowry Field neighbourhood, The Soiled Dove was built cabaret-style with a lofty stage and three levels of tiered seating. Widely known for its sonic and systems quality, the room features ample acoustical treatments.

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“This environment was built properly,” notes Chris Steele, the venue’s production manager and audio engineer. “That fact allows me to focus on bringing what’s happening on stage to the audience with every bit of the artist’s true intent intact. I don’t have to focus on problems of any kind like a harsh slapback that’s ricocheting off the back wall.”

Having served in his current capacity for over 18 years, Steele admits he was a digital hold-out for a long time running. “Even towards the end of the aughts I still wasn’t convinced a digital console would offer me the performance I wanted,” he says. “But everything has its expiration date ultimately, and the time came earlier this year to make the move.”

Utilised in conjunction with a CDM48 MixRack, an Allen & Heath dLive C3500 Surface was brought into The Dove following an extensive period of evaluation. “It’s the perfect system for a room like this with pristine acoustics,” Steele feels. “At 96kHz it has a very coherent sound—never ‘wiggly’ in the upper frequencies, it sums appropriately, and it has a number of features built-in that I would otherwise have to buy additional components to get. With this desk, I can configure my workflow in such a way that everything is on the surface, like my DEEP compression and effects. I like to keep things straightforward, but if I want to install an expansion card, that’s easy enough without the use of any kind of external server rack.”

According to The Denver Post, The Dove was “made for music.” To that end, rock, jazz, and folk acts take to the stage against a backdrop that also includes dancing, food, and cocktails. “Adding the dLive C3500 system to all of this has been an energising experience,” Steele adds. “You can really hear the difference.”