VUE Audio al-Class Brings Sonic Nirvana to Historic Wiltern Theater on Clairo Tour

Three men stand behind audio equipment at a historic venue

Los Angeles, CA – When it comes to new artists utilizing Youtube and online distribution to launch their careers, Clairo is the most recent phenomenon to be catapulted. After her first full-length album dropped in early 2019, her popularity quickly grew out of the fan base she established via Youtube. Her recent US tour generated a buzz that has yielded a number of sold out performances along the way.

Tours of this size often play in clubs from House of Blues, to historic venues like The Wiltern in Los Angeles. Unlike other venues with house systems, the Wiltern required a sound system be brought in for the performance. Clairo’s Front of House Engineer, Tomas Wolfe, was given the ability to spec out the system for the Wiltern show. Wolfe contacted VUE’s Shawn London and with the help of Harmony Event Productions, an al-12 array with ACM hs-221 dual 21” subwoofers was brought into the Wiltern.

Wolfe had some prior experience with VUE’s al-Class line arrays and the clarity of the Beryllium HF compression drivers on previous gigs which prompted his decision to request VUE for the Wiltern. “I had heard about the VUE al-Class rigs and their reputation for clarity. I had been waiting to hear them and mix through a system personally. My first experience with a VUE rig was about a year and a half ago. I had been hired by Sound Image to work a private event in Hollywood. I was mixing on an al-8 array ground-stacked on top of hs-28 subs. The sound was warm with a clear top-end. It was very transparent and easy to mix through. Then I was able to experience an al-12 system in Philly mixing a show for Run The Jewels. It’s a hip-hop show that needed to be loud and in-your-face. Even when I pushed the system, it never got harsh or ear piercing.”

The Wiltern in Los Angeles is an historic venue originally built in 1931 as a vaudeville theater. It has been preserved through the Los Angeles Conservancy as an architectural heritage of the city. However, the design does not lend itself to ideal live audio conditions. Wolfe explained why he chose the al-12 rig for the Wiltern. “I’ve mixed ten to fifteen shows at the Wiltern over the years. I’m very familiar with the sound challenges in that room. First, there’s a balcony and under balcony area that pose issues. Then there’s a strict SPL limit especially with the low frequencies. We wanted a full low-end but we can’t shake the building too hard due to the age of the ornate walls and ceiling. We can’t risk things falling off the walls during a show. So I wanted the clarity of the al-12 along with the efficiency of the hs-221 subs. We have plenty of sub-capabilities when needed, actually more than enough. I walked the room once the system was tuned and was really impressed at the efficiency of the throw. There was no need to have under balcony fill speakers.” The other challenge Wolfe faced was Clairo’s vocal level. Some might describe Clairo’s vocals as a bit delicate. This can pose feedback issues as Clairo’s microphone preamp must be brought to higher levels of gain. And to add another level of difficulty, she often kneels at the very front of the stage during her performance. This position, at high gain levels, can initiate feedback if it starts to pick up the house mix spilling wide onto the stage. Wolfe commented about feedback control. “It really helps to have a well designed system like the al-12, with good focus and rejection to keep spill off the stage and help control feedback”

The sold-out crowd at the Wiltern not only enjoyed the clarity of Clairo’s vocals, but also great separation from the guitars and keyboards that provide sonic texture to Clairo’s performance. The lyrics were intelligible even when the sold-out crowd sang along. After the show, VUE Audiotechnik’s CEO Ken Berger, met up with Wolfe in San Diego at the House Of Blues. Wolfe stated “I can’t wait to take an al-12 or al-8 rig out on tour” The 2019 leg of the Immunity Tour recently wrapped and is now in the UK with more dates coming for 2020.