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L-Acoustics Brings Uncompromising Sound to Events at the Hollywood Bowl

Nestled into the southern base of the Hollywood Hills in Los Angeles, the Hollywood Bowl sits on prime real estate. But location aside, much of the venue’s success over the years can undoubtedly be attributed to the high production values that have long been its hallmark. Although the Hollywood Bowl is a natural amphitheater, it’s a challenging venue, attracting a sophisticated and broad-ranging audience, from tourists to classical music enthusiasts. With entertainment from symphonic shows to legendary rock bands like The Who and new groups like Chromeo, expectations for getting the right sound for each musical genre are high. Patrons expect the entire experience to sound, look, and feel extraordinary because that’s all part of the reputation of this venue.

The Challenge

The Bowl presents a demanding environment for a sound system with its seating configured into a giant curved teardrop. At over 450 feet deep from front to back with a steep rake that slopes up nearly 100 feet from the stage, the longest throw for sound clocks in at over 600 feet. And in Southern California, where the dry atmospheric conditions have a significant impact on the throw capability of a sound system, it’s even more of a challenge. It required a solution with the highest output to maintain adequate SPL to the back of the venue because it wasn’t possible to deploy delay systems within the amphitheater. The system needed to meet, and exceed all rider specifications, while supporting program material for any genre, from classical to EDM.

The Solution

To find the perfect sound system for this multi-faceted job, the Hollywood Bowl engineering team arranged for a blind loudspeaker system “shootout” with three of what they considered the leading potential candidates. Each manufacturer brought their amplification and two 10-element arrays, which were flown next to the other companies’ systems, to address the lower Bowl seating area. Rather than listen to pre-recorded program material, the test featured a variety of live performers: a string quartet, jazz ensemble, and vocal soloist with piano accompaniment. After listening to each system, the unanimous choice of everyone — both seasoned audiophiles and novice listeners — was L-Acoustics K1. It offered the highest SPL per meter of any product on the market, delivering consistent, uncompromised full bandwidth sound to every seat in the venue.   

The Result

With the unanimous decision made, L-Acoustics K1 delivers exceptional quality and consistency even at 600+ feet from the stage, blending seamlessly with the amphitheater’s natural acoustics. Simultaneously, the unmatched pattern control delivered because of the long line length and ideal coupling of acoustic energy between enclosures helps minimize noise pollution to the surrounding environment and residential areas. “This system sounds absolutely stunning. The very first engineer who mixed an event here this season told me, ‘You know what? I’ll never be able to mix on another PA. That’s it.’ And all the comments we’ve heard since then have been just as flattering,” says Michael Sheppard, Hollywood Bowl’s head of AV.