“Reclaimed” Electro-Voice system delivers top-notch sound at Lancaster’s Tellus360
August 15, 2014
First settled in the early 1700s, Lancaster, Pennsylvania is a small city with a long history. Capitol of the United States for one day in 1777; site of the nation’s first paved highway, first fire department, first commercial telegram, first automobile factory, first pharmacy, and first smoke shop; home at various times to the world’s largest silk mill, largest umbrella factory, and largest flooring factory — the list goes on. Despite that catalog of bygone achievements, however, today’s Lancaster hasn’t allowed itself to become a shadow of its industrial-era past. Instead, it has built on that past to reinvent itself as a destination for tourism, shopping, and the arts.
This theme of reinvention fits nicely with the story of Tellus360, which began in 2010 as a downtown Lancaster store for home furnishings. The store was a sideline for owner Joe Devoy, whose Maryland-based ARA Construction Corporation was best known for building in-store fixtures and interiors out of reclaimed wood for Whole Foods. “The furniture in the store was all made using reclaimed wood,” says general manager Mairtin Lally, “and we started adding items like organic clothing and jewelry, and also sourcing antiques from Ireland.” Lally was raised in Ireland, where his pub-owning family regularly presented live music, and he’d also worked in event production in his college days in Galway. Before long, that background started proving useful at Tellus360.
“Our system has completely changed the way I listen at concerts and shows,”
“It turned out that many of the people working for us in the store were either artists or musicians,” Lally explains. “So we started to put on small shows right in the store, with maybe 20 to 60 people in the audience initially, and then growing to 80, 100, 120. For each show we had to flip the store into a venue and then back. Eventually it was obvious that with the extra space we had in the building we should use it for music.”
At first, Lally says, the plan was to create a space on the building’s second floor that would support performances on the same level that they’d already been doing, but with higher production values and without having to flip the store for each show. Seeking advice about how best to design and equip the venue for high-quality sound, they found that Clair Brothers, a leading provider of sound reinforcement for music tours, is located in nearby Lititz, and that many Clair employees live in or near Lancaster. Among them was consultant Harry Witz, formerly president of db Sound Image in Chicago.
Among other achievements, Witz had provided sound design and installation services at nine House of Blues locations and was deeply involved in the design of many key Electro-Voice loudspeaker lines including MT, X-Array, XLC, and X-Line. Witz took an interest in Tellus 360 and advised on many aspects of the project. With input from Witz and others, a more ambitious plan took shape. The goal became to create a venue that is not only a downtown destination for Lancaster’s 60,000 residents but also a draw for the half-million people living within a half-hour drive.
The result is a reconfigured building—now topped with a living roof—that features two distinct venues for live performance, as well as a lounge area upstairs in back. The various spaces are used not only for live music shows, but also for community dinners, receptions, yoga and dance classes, black box theater performances, and writing workshops.
Tellus360’s two music rooms can be loosely described as pub and club. The front room, accommodating up to 200 on the main level and mezzanine, is a warm pub with food, drink—Irish beers and whiskeys alongside local brews—and, fittingly, a 100-year-old antique bar reclaimed bar from a pub in Ireland’s County Waterford. It features live music, often acoustic, several nights a week. A separate room, dubbed The Temple, handles 350 seated or 550 standing for an eclectic range of larger shows, typically two to four per week. Genres include Americana, Irish, newgrass, rock, blues, soul, and jazz. Audio lines from the Temple stage run to a 64-track recording studio in the basement that can be used for live recording.
Given Devoy’s overall emphasis on reclaiming rather than buying newly manufactured goods, it’s no surprise that the Electro-Voice sound system in the front room was previously owned. “Their approach to the design was all about using reclaimed materials — doors, windows, railings, whatever they could,” Witz says. “So one of the things that they were looking for in their sound systems was some kind of history. The DeltaMax DML-1152 full-range two-way loudspeaker was a model that I had designed as part of a reciprocal consulting arrangement between dB Sound and Electro-Voice. These particular boxes, which had updated drivers, had been used on the Riverdance tour as well as AC/DC and had come to Clair Bros with the dB Sound inventory.”
Two of the 1152s are hung over the front of the pub’s stage, each four feet to the side of stage center. The boxes are oriented for 40-degree horizontal coverage to minimize reflection off of the hard walls of the relatively long, narrow room. The main system also includes two subwoofers, originally built by dB Sound, that are based on the Xsub design but use a single 18-inch woofer. Two more 1152s hang as delays under the stairs that serve the mezzanine; the same model is also used for delays in the Temple. Coverage in the mezzanine itself is provided by two Electro-Voice Sx200 two-way full-range speakers. The pub system is powered by Electro-Voice P3000 Precision Series power amplifiers and crossed-over by DeltaMax DMC-1152 controllers.
While newer designs offer advantages in terms of size and weight, Witz says, “I don’t think we could have any better performance in the front room than what we’ve got with this system.” Lally agrees. “Our system has completely changed the way I listen at concerts and shows,” he says. “Having been around it all the time, I can really appreciate the quality when I contrast it with the systems that I hear in other places. And we’ve had nothing but positive feedback. We want to be sure that the artists that play here have a great experience, and the bands love the sound of this system. We couldn’t be happier.”
Photos reproduced from Tellus360 website with permission. For more images, visit http://www.tellus360.com/photos/photos/