Belying its modest exterior, The Troubadour has featured prominently in the entertainment history of Los Angeles almost since the day it was opened in 1957 by the late Doug Weston.
Showing no signs of slowing down after nearly six decades, the venue, which was named by Billboard in 2014 as one of the top five must-play clubs in the country and by Rolling Stone the year prior as the second best rock club in America, has just become even more attractive to touring artists with a major upgrade of its PA system to L-Acoustics components.
Rat Sound Systems, Inc. of Camarillo served as the designer, supplier and installer of the venue’s new house system.
Dave Rat, president of Rat Sound and Paul Freudenberg, general manager of Rat Sound, began discussing the upgrade—the first for over two decades at the club—with The Troubadour three years ago.
“With the venue’s mix position located up in the balcony, the balcony being off center and the room being both extremely wide and fairly shallow, this project was an exciting challenge,” says Dave.
“We were very happy with what we were able to achieve with asymmetrical hangs of L-Acoustics ARCS II and ARCS Focus enclosures. Additionally, we got to do some fun custom work, including creating cages to protect the subs on custom rolling plates.”
According to Paul: “Dave and I examined numerous designs and orientations of different types of loudspeakers, then evaluated the designs using L-Acoustics’ Soundvision. We ended up with a solution of six ARCS IIs flown in horizontal mode to cover the main floor and four ARCS Focus cabinets oriented in a vertical configuration, slightly offset to stage left from the positions of the main speakers to accommodate the offset balcony.
“The ARCS family’s directivity fits the low-ceilinged environment very well, and the 30-degree vertical coverage nicely addresses the balcony while also providing front of house with direct sound.
“Now that we’re a little more on-axis, you get more sound in your face at front of house, which is nice,” comments Oscar J. Narro, who has been with The Troubadour for four years, the last two as production manager. The upgrade has made a noticeable improvement to the quality and coverage in the venue.
Oscar adds: “All of the guest engineers have been very happy that the sound is so consistent around the room now. But I think the biggest compliment was when our bartenders, people that don’t have specially trained ears, noticed the improvement in the sound.”
A flown L-Acoustics 115XT HiQ coaxial speaker provides center fill, while a 12XTi coaxial covers a small balcony section at stage left.
Four SB28 dual-18-inch subwoofers ground-stacked two per side down below deliver low-end reinforcement.
“It’s all L-Acoustics-powered,” says Paul. “There are two LA8 and two LA4X processing amplifiers and they’re operating LA Network Manager as a control software/dashboard when they’re mixing a show.”
The system has headroom to spare, adds Oscar: “The first show we did with it was a punk gig by Anti Flag. The engineer brought his SPL meter and started the show at 115 dB, C-weighted, at the mix position.
“We still had plenty of headroom; we weren’t even tapping the limiters. Since then, a broad spectrum of artists have played the room, including Imagine Dragons, Lucinda Williams, Grouplove, Sam Hunt, Dave Alvin and many others, and the L-Acoustics system has sounded fantastic on them all.”