The House that Pain Built

By Jim Strokes

SRB night club ( strives to maintain the high energy level of the Brooklyn NY live music and dance venue via professional sound and lighting systems. Located in a converted warehouse in an industrial area of the Gowanus neighborhood, the venue’s audio/lighting was completed by Canal Sound & Light, New York City, in six months. Jeffrey Kwan, Vice President of the AV company, provided the final system design and was lead installer.

First some background. SRB Brooklyn, which stands for Soul, Rhythm and Blues, is owned by Arden “Doc” Kaisman, MD. Sanjib Mukhopadhyay is the venue’s production manager and head sound engineer. He’s a veteran of live sound engineering, as well as studio design in the New York City area (see sidebar, “Conversion,” for more information).

New Live Music Venue SRB Brooklyn

Motown Memories
“The goal here is to bring back the days when people danced to live music,” asserted Kaisman. “When I was growing up in New York, every kid was listening and boogying to the music from Motown and Stax as the songs hit the Top 40 on radio stations across America. My childhood served as the inspiration to create SRB Brooklyn, a live music/dance venue bringing back the energy of the clubs of the ’60s and ’70s. Combining utmost professionalism, genuine independent spirit and deep passion for music, we’ve built SRB so everyone can have an amazing time.”

Regarding the role of the sound system, Mukhopadhyay said, “With the diversity of the programming here, we needed a very versatile system that could handle high SPL for large audiences. It had to be applicable for many types of music.”

The rectangular space has two VIP areas: one at ground level to the left as the patrons enter, and the other in the mezzanine behind the stage. The stage itself is 23 feet wide by 15 feet deep by 3 feet high. The DJ booth and green room are on the second-floor mezzanine area. Two bars flank the center of the dance floor. “The floor plan was designed so the crowd could be interactive,” said Mukhopadhyay. “The VIP area behind the stage not only looks cool for parties, but it also gives the viewer an option to go up and sort of almost be on stage. It’s almost like out of the fashion world where people are flanking the stage for more closeness to what’s going on. And then the bars flanking the dance floor are for ease of getting your drinks.”

New Live Music Venue SRB Brooklyn

New Live Music Venue SRB Brooklyn


Before we launch into the sound and lighting install, here’s some background perspective on integrator Canal Street & Light. “We’re in downtown Manhattan, right off the Holland Tunnel,” declared Kwan. “So people from Jersey can hop on in, and the location leads directly to the Manhattan Bridge to Brooklyn, Queens and beyond. We tend to serve a lot of businesses, clubs, bars and working DJs in the New York City area.” Founded in 1977, the AV company is an authorized dealer for major brands of pro audio, DJ equipment, lighting effects, speaker parts and home audio. They have three extensive showrooms, as well.

“SRB wanted to have the best sound system in Brooklyn,” said Kwan. “I think they achieved that. In the future, they want to be able to broadcast an event or stream sound online. At present, the venue is doing live gigs.” With that mind, we’ll begin the install details with FOH and foldback equipment. Accordingly, the Digidesign Venue console offers the versatility of live sound, recording and broadcasting events. “They used the Soundcraft SI compact mixing console a little while for FOH,” said Kwan. “In the end, they wanted to keep it as their monitor mixing console, so it’s available for monitor mix if there’s a large band playing here. However, the FOH Venue provides up to 48 inputs and 16 outputs. And it’s great for broadcast and recording.”

SRB wanted JBL VerTech line array speakers because they wanted to be able to bring in national acts. Installing the arrays was a challenge because of architectural constraints. It is a 50-foot-wide by 100-foot-long room with a low ceiling. Specifically, there are four JBL VerTech VT4888 three-way line array elements on each side of the stage. The eight line array elements are stacked, facing downward. “We could not fly the VerTechs from the structural beams,” said Kwan. “The beams weren’t strong enough, and we didn’t want to add too much steel on top of that. So we flipped the VTs upside down and used the fly kit to ground stack them from the mezzanine that SRB built.” Thus, the VT4888s were placed in a notch in each wall on either side of the stage that’s about 10 feet high, so they achieve the sonic and coverage advantages of raising them of f the ground. That also brings the patrons’ sightlines directly to the performers on stage.

Another Challenge

Just as placing the VerTecs directly on the floor would have had disastrous acoustic ef fects, another challenge resulted from the original design of the performing stage that didn’t provide enough acoustical treatment for the subwoofers. This resulted in the stage shaking when the sound system was first put into operation. To offset this, sand and concrete were added to the stage to eliminate the shaking and noise and forces the low frequency energy for ward toward the audience.

There’s a JBL AM7212 for center fill. Rear fill is provided by four STX835 three-way boxes. In turn, three subs found a home underneath the stage. The other two are at the rear of the venue. Four AC28 two-ways cover the mezzanine. In addition to FOH, other JBLs are used throughout the venue, as well. Thus, in foldback, the aforementioned Soundcraft SIC 32 mixer rides gain for eight two-way stage monitors and a pair of subwoofers for drum fill. Harkening back to the mezzanine, the engineer’s booth is comfor tably situated in that VIP second floor obser vation niche.

Moving onto other install components, speaker management is via a dbx 4800 DriveRack 4×8 processor. During a fire emergency, a dbx remote device mutes the 4800 when triggered by the fire alarm system. A bevy of Crown amplifiers were chosen because these amps have a lot of presets for the VerTec 4888s. “We hired a team that Harman recommended to do some loading of the presets,” said Kwan. “For that, SK Systems ( based in Islandia NY came in for a couple days.”

The DJ system is comprised of two Pioneer CD turntables with a Rane mixer. According to Kwan, the backline band pack components of a DW dr um kit, Ampeg bass guitar amplifier, Fender guitar amp, Korg Kronos workstation, Yamaha keyboard and LP congo were provided per specifications of the venue’s booking manager at the time. A full complement of AKG microphones, as well as the classic Shure 55SH “Elvis” mic, round out the sound system. “SRB has everything they need to attract any kind of act or artist,” said Kwan.


“We suspended a 30’x23′ rectangular truss from the ceiling joists for lighting fixtures,” explained Kwan. “From there, they can put in any additional lighting, run cabling or put in any projector. People who come in for parties add projectors for some ar tistic visual. It’s just a general-purpose trussing system.

“We installed a simple stage wash system of eight Elation Pro Opti Tri’s. There’s a simple 24-inch mirror disco ball, which is larger than normal, that looks good for the stage. And there are American DJ LED pin spots and some LED different effects. X-Laser provides high power red and green laser effects.”