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Chumash Casino Makes Things Easy with MILO
Located in Santa Barbara County between Los Angeles and San Francisco, the Chumash Casino Resort is a hotel and casino complex set on the tribal reservation of the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians in the lush, green hills of the central California wine country, the region featured in the Oscar-nominated motion picture "Sideways." After a fitful series of attempts at establishing gambling as a revenue source for the tribe, a casino was first opened on the site in 1994, but a recent major expansion turned the existing casino into a parking structure for the new resort. Offering Las Vegas-style gaming 24/7, the 94,000 square feet of casino floor and 106-room hotel, which was completed mid-2004, the casino also presents an array of top-notch musical entertainment, with Rose Royce, BB King, Chicago, Michael McDonald, Creedence Clearwater Revisited, Cheap Trick, and Willie Nelson all scheduled to appear at the resort's Samala Room through early May.
Eddie Estave, the casino's production manager, wanted to avoid the difficulties of constantly having sound systems come and go with the artists, so he decided to buy a system that would satisfy any rider. It only took one hearing to convince him a Meyer Sound system would achieve that.
The new sound system, unveiled on New Year's Eve 2005, includes a dozen MILO high-power curvilinear array loudspeakers, two MILO 120 expanded coverage cabinets, two M3D-Sub directional subwoofers, and six 700-HP high-power subwoofers, with six UPJ-1P compact VariO speakers, including two spares, for lip fill. Onstage, a pair of MTS-4A full-range systems for sidefill and two PSM-2 high-power low-profile stage monitors form the core of the stage monitor system.
The decision to install a Meyer Sound rig was made after months of exhaustive speaker auditions and study of technical riders, according to Grant Macgregor, president of Luners Pro Sound & Lighting in Santa Barbara, the dealer and lead installer for the sound, lighting, video and staging systems. The turning point came about through fortuitous timing.
Macgregor had been invited to a Tony Bennett show in Santa Barbara by Greg Hockman of GLS Marketing, Meyer Sound's Southern California sales representative. Tom Young, Bennett's FOH engineer, is a long-time fan of Meyer Sound products, so the show was using a MILO system. Macgregor was impressed. "It sounded great," he recalls.
Also attending the Bennett show was Centerstaging's Johnny Caswell, Fleetwood Mac's representative, who stopped by on his way back to Los Angeles after a reconnaissance trip to the Chumash Casino for a pair of private performances by the Mac scheduled there. The casino performances would need stacks and racks, so, after hearing the Bennett show, Caswell suggested the venue bring in a MILO system for Fleetwood Mac. "That was really our first in-room audition," comments Macgregor. "The band sounded fabulous, of course, and the speakers sounded extremely good in the room. That's pretty much when the decision was made.
The main objective was to provide the casino's production staff with a system that would meet with the approval of any visiting artist. "We just wanted a good, solid, venue-appropriate rig that would raise no objections and be only a positive experience," Macgregor offers. "But the system's not just meeting the tech riders, it's exceeding them."
As Macgregor relates, Meyer Sound was involved in the system design from the beginning. "Meyer Sound have been an integral part of the design and gave us pretty much the best customer service we've ever seen. We had a rough idea what we'd like, and have system engineers that were involved in the design of this, but Meyer were asked to spec this out to a T. They MAPP'ed this whole room to ensure that we got the best possible sound. They're most familiar with their product and they do an excellent job."
The resulting speaker rig, installed in a simple left-right hang on two motors, closely matches the setup brought in for Fleetwood Mac, he notes. "But we added a pair of M3D-Subs up on top to throw a little bass further back in the room, and positioned a 700-HP on the floor below each hang." Estave was impressed not only with the simple elegance of the system but also with Meyer Sound's support. "There are no amps on the stage, and the RMS system is outstanding, but what really sold us is the customer service: how to fit the system, and how many boxes."
As Estave points out, his idea to create a virtual low-frequency line array by positioning four of the 700-HP subwoofers under the front lip of the stage met with Meyer Sound's approval and proved very effective. "I wanted to try and get an even low frequency response throughout the room, and they totally liked the idea. I think the low frequency is outstanding."
For his part, Estave applied extensive acoustic treatment in the venue, an almost square, conference-style room, applying Auralex Metro 2-inch and 4-inch absorptive foam along the walls plus acoustic ceiling tiles in a series of 'V' patterns in order to tame the 14-second reaction time. "We're down to about two seconds now," he reports. "It's a well-rounded room. I didn't want to kill the room; you should hear something."
According to Macgregor, the big story of installing the Meyer Sound system in the 105 ft. wide by 140 ft. deep showroom, is that, well, there is no story. "We put it in and it sounds wonderful," he says, noting that the entire installation has been trouble-free and performs as expected, if not better. The Meyer Sound loudspeakers needed virtually no tweaking, Macgregor points out. "Out of the box it sounded great," he remarks. Of course, the real world is never absolutely perfect, but that's what good tools are for, as Macgregor details: "There's a little build-up of certain frequencies in the room. We use a Meyer Sound LD-3 [compensating line driver] to take out those frequencies."
Meyer Sound technical support staff tuned the system using the company's SIM 3 audio analyzer in mid-January after the first big show, by Styx. In fact, that was indicative of the only challenge during the audio and lighting installation process, says Macgregor, who observes that the venue has hosted weekly live shows since New Year's Eve. "We've all been doing this installation while we've been doing shows."
But Luners has not been expected to do all the installation work, with the Chumash Casino production staff providing extensive assistance. That has been very beneficial to the in-house staff, Macgregor considers. "If you're part of putting it in you're attached to it and you know it inside and out. This house was very involved, which is a big plus, because it means we're all working together as a team to create the best possible system."
The entire experience has been everything a production manager could want. "Our Meyer Sound system is phenomenal," Estave enthuses. "I've had everything from comedians to Fleetwood Mac on this system and everybody loves it. MILO is a very musical box that fits the room very well, and the RMS system is outstanding. Another thing that sold us was the customer service, which has been fantastic. It was a no-brainer to get this system for the casino.