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Masque Sound Serves Up Broadway Solutions

Before the doors opened at 54 Below, Broadway’s newest supper club, Masque Sound, a leading theatrical sound reinforcement, installation and design company, was busy installing a custom audio equipment package for the Great White Way’s newest hot spot.

Located below what was once the legendary nightclub Studio 54, 54 Below aims to provide an unforgettable New York nightlife experience, combining performances by Broadway’s best with world-class dining in an elegant setting. 

Envisioned as Broadway’s living room; a home away from home for show professionals and audiences, 54 Below combines grace and style in an intimate environment. As great sound plays a prominent role in this type of atmosphere, Peter Hylenski, the Grammy, Tony and Olivier Award-nominated sound designer on the project, turned to Masque Sound to supply the club’s audio equipment and help make his vision a reality.

“Having worked with Peter in the past on previous Broadway projects, we knew he was going to come up with an innovative and crowd-pleasing design,” said Matt Peskie, systems engineer, Masque Sound.  “Peter’s vision was to ensure that every seat is a good seat; no matter where a patron sits, they would have no issues hearing the performers. To ensure complete coverage, we provided a large quantity of Meyer Sound speakers.”

Masque Sound also equipped 54 Below with a highly flexible Avid SC48 digital console. According to Peskie: “The fact that 54 Below will be able to save and recall settings will be extremely beneficial and time efficient. Many artists will appear for repeated acts, not to mention there will be multiple acts per night, so a digital console like the Avid will allow them to go easily back and forth to recall settings for each act.”

In addition, Masque Sound chose Millennia Media pre-amps. These high-end mic pre-amps can be combined to feed the console as well as the JoeCo black-box recorder. This gives the venue the option of dual recording, both as a primary and backup.

All of the digital signal processing is being handled using BSS processors. The venue is split up into 12 speaker zones including ceiling speaker zones that can be controlled by BSS blue 10 remotes. This allows the bartender to play an iPod before the show and have control over the whole system. The bartender or sound system operator who has a controller can then go onto a touchscreen and fade out the iPod, allowing the Avid SE48 to take over and drive the speaker.

“This was such a unique project to be involved in, as the location is a symbol of the culture and history of New York,” says Hylenski. “Based on my experience with Masque Sound, I was confident that they would help to create the right vibe for this iconic location. I have received nothing but positive feedback in terms of how the rooms and all the shows sound.”

54 Below features up to three shows nightly as well as a late-night lounge. Accommodating 144 people in the main dining room, with all tables situated no more than 24ft from the stage, the facilities include the capability to broadcast and record audio and video.

“The turnaround time for this project was about nine or 10 weeks from start to finish,” said Peskie.  “Due to the aggressive timing, we had to really coordinate on the job site, making sure both the electrical and general contractors had everything they needed. It’s a really aesthetically pleasing room, with ornate ceilings, so the key to a successful install was working closely with the other trades. The final outcome is absolutely beautiful.”





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