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Golden Nugget Polishes Shine with Meyer Sound
In a town with a reputation for venues springing up overnight, the Golden Nugget is an anomaly: a legendary piece of history. First opened in 1946 by Guy McAfee, an ex-vice detective from Los Angeles, "the largest casino in the world" was designed to replicate the original Golden Nugget built on San Francisco's Barbary Coast and built at a then-staggering cost of $1,000,000. In a city known for rewriting the rules, the Golden Nugget was home to a number of firsts: the first to introduce a center dealer (until 1950, poker players dealt their own cards in no-limit games), the first casino to award a large single cash prize ($10,000 in 1968), and the first Las Vegas venue to open a formal showroom. Boasting a 50-foot handmade bar created by famed filmmaker Louis B. Mayer, the original building has been through several incarnations over the years, including the addition of the Spa Tower by then-owner Steve Wynn in the late 1970's.
Today the Golden Nugget still boasts the oldest showroom in downtown Vegas, a room whose stage has been graced by such legends as Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Tony Bennett. Having changed hands again, first to the MGM Grand Corporation in 2000 and again in 2004 to entrepreneurs Tim Poster and Tom Breitling, the Nugget hosted a grand reopening in late 2004 with performances by Tony Bennett and Jewel, who helped to christen the newly redone Theatre Ballroom's sound system, based around Meyer Sound M2D compact curvilinear array loudspeakers.
"This is a fairly intimate room," explains Rob Orlinick, lead audio tech for the Golden Nugget. "It's a rare cabaret-style showroom, not very deep, with only 450 seats and a low ceiling. As a result we don't have the option of a large line array in here." As Orlinick explains, the room's wide but shallow configuration necessitates angling the speakers in a L-R cross-fired configuration. " We had some large, long-throw cabinets in here, but no matter how we focused them we were getting comb filtering and problem areas."
With multiple elevations in the stands and windows on one side of the room, the ability to direct the sound for minimal slapback was critical. After researching a number of options, Orlinick called Sonny Maupin at New World Audio, one of Las Vegas' major sound system providers, to audition the M2D. Orlinick listened and decided that the M2D offered the best solution. "The M2D gives us nice even coverage throughout most of the room, and allows us to aim the sound where we need it, and away from problem areas. It's a nice, intimate sounding speaker and really does the trick for this room." Once the system was delivered, Maupin worked with the casino's staff to install the system in the configuration that had been worked out using Meyer Sound MAPP Online acoustical prediction software. Meyer Sound's Michael Maxson aligned the system using a SIM audio analyzer.
Far from functioning as a simple Vegas-style lounge, the Golden Nugget's showroom is one of the more versatile venues in the city's famed downtown. "We get a wide range of acts in here," Orlinick remarks, "from comedians like Bob Newhart and talk show hosts like Regis Philbin to full-on music acts like Collective Soul and Barenaked Ladies. We do corporate events, meetings…all sorts of stuff. We really needed a system that was versatile enough to handle all types of music, with intelligibility to deal with spoken word presentations. The M2D gives us that flexibility."
With a daily schedule that can sometimes reach five shows per day, flexibility is indeed key. A 96-input DiGiCo D5 Live digital console makes reconfiguring the front-of-house mix quick and relatively painless.
Space was another important consideration. "It's not a large room, and we don't have a lot of wing space," Orlinick observes, "so Meyer's self-powered system was a major plus."
A pair of 700-HP ultrahigh-power subwoofers covers the low end, as well as supporting the system – literally. "We couldn't fly the rig due to space restrictions, so we've ended up groundstacking the M2D's on top of the subs," Orlinick explains. A pair of UPJ-1P compact VariO loudspeakers were added as fill on either side, to cover a few of the more outlying areas of the room and CQ-1 wide coverage main loudspeakers sitting onstage provided additional sidefill.
With a full roster of events, the Golden Nugget is also expanding beyond the showroom, introducing a large temporary structure dubbed "the Pavilion" out by the hotel's pool area. For these and other events, Orlinick calls on a portable setup comprised of CQ-1 cabinets, CQ-2 narrow coverage main loudspeakers, and a pair of 650-P high-power subwoofers, as well as a complement of conventionally-poweed legacy UPA-1C compact wide coverage loudspeakers and UM-1C UltraMonitors. "The Pavilion system has been my 'Swiss Army device' for all sorts of stuff, like pool parties and street events. It's a great system that's quick to set up anywhere and doesn't need a lot of tweaking. And it's great to never have to reconfigure amp racks."