Austin-based powered loudspeaker manufacturer BASSBOSS is well represented year round in their hometown, with speakers installed in popular venues such as Kingdom, Barcelona, Empire Control Room & Garage, and Ironwood Hall. When the South by Southwest Music and Media Conference sweeps through town every March, a broader audience is exposed to the power and clarity of BASSBOSS speakers as these venues play host to many official showcases and events. For SXSW 2016, in addition to their permanent installations around town, the company was asked to design and provide complete loudspeaker systems at two official stages, The Main I and The Main II.
Jes Elliott, SXSW Music Programmer, commented: “Time and again, BASSBOSS consistently delivers precision and quality that makes their products a standout feature. Everyone talks about how good it sounds when walking away from the show.”
“The fact that so many incredible artists descend upon Austin each year is always exciting,” says Lian Amber, CEO of BASSBOSS. “Having that kind of talent and intensity in one place creates electricity in the air, and BASSBOSS was proud to feed into that with our speaker installation at The Main I and II.” BASSBOSS was tasked with providing systems that could convert a now bare space, located at the former home of Emo’s, a popular local live music club that has since relocated, into two separate clubs capable of handling the sound needs of top flight talent including Bun B and Steve Aoki. BASSBOSS president David Lee designed systems that were up to the task by utilizing some of BASSBOSS’s newest products, including the LA88 Line Array and VS21 subwoofers. Jes Elliott, SXSW Music Programmer, commented:
For The Main I, an outdoor, semi-covered area that extended into an open-air courtyard, Lee chose 8 LA88 Line Arrays and 8 VS21 “Rum Punch” Powered Subwoofers for the main system, with two AT312s, two DJ112s, two CCM112s and two SSP218 subwoofers on stage for monitoring. “There was a great combination of acoustical instruments and heavy electronic music planned for the venue, so it was a perfect opportunity to showcase the VS21 Subwoofers with high-profile artists that we knew could put them to good use,” says Lee. Across the courtyard, the smaller indoor stage at The Main II called for two AT312 Attuned Tops and four ZV28 Subwoofers for the main system and three CCM112 monitors, a combination more than capable of delivering a visceral musical experience to everyone in the room. “The defining principle of our products is that they’re plug-and-play,” Amber says, an attribute BASSBOSS achieves in part through their total commitment to powered speakers. “With The Main I and II, the load in for both systems began at 3:00 PM Tuesday afternoon and they were easily up and ready before sunset.”
The VS21 Subwoofer was designed to deliver deep bass without compromising on “punch”. That made it the perfect choice for The Main I. “A 21” cone can move a lot of air but for a sub to work well with acoustical instruments it needs to have excellent transient response. VS21 Subwoofer has great transient attack characteristics that work particularly well with acoustic instruments like bass guitars and kick drums. The large displacement of the 21” cone provides flat response down to 27 Hz, which also makes it an excellent choice for the deep bass of EDM, trap, or hip-hop,” Lee says. “It’s an incredibly versatile sub! That’s why it’s perfect for a festival like South by Southwest, where a wide variety of styles are presented on the same stage and nobody is left wanting more.”
The VS21 Subwoofer realizes its fast transient attack through a hybrid vented short-horn enclosure, designed to optimize low frequency performance and increase dynamic efficiency in the upper bass range. “It’s the upper bass where the transient attack is realized, and because of the VS21 Subwoofer’s efficiency there we can make better use of the dynamic power of the amplifier,” Lee explains. “The result is a sub that delivers a knockout combination of greater depth and more punching power than other 21” subs on the market. We call it the VS21 “Rum Punch” because it’ll hit you so hard you’ll be punch-drunk!”
The VS21 Subwoofer’s modest weight, manageable size and amazing versatility make it an ideal subwoofer solution for portable use. Its convenient shape and compact footprint make it equally appealing for permanent installations. The VS21 Subwoofer offers output levels similar to a double-18” subwoofer but concentrates the delivery over a smaller area, providing more output per square foot. At 36” x 36” x 24”, the VS21 Subwoofer’s exterior dimensions are similar to many popular budget folded-horn subwoofers, so for venues with existing 3’x2’ cutouts and the need for a massive upgrade, the VS21 Subwoofer delivers massive bass without requiring costly construction.
Full Coverage at the High End
The LA88 small-format line arrays delivered plenty of coverage to supplement the deep low end of the VS21 Subwoofers at The Main I. The compact form factor (25.25” wide x 19.5” deep and 9.75” high) allowed two 4-cabinet rigs to fit perfectly in the space. With ultra-wide 120-degree coverage there were no dead spots in the packed house. With each one self-powered by a 3000W amplifier, the LA88 offers incredibly flat frequency response , tremendous detail and huge dynamic power, giving life to the diverse sounds of the festival. “They’re extraordinarily powerful for their size. They weren’t operating anywhere near their maximum capacity and were completely filling the space,” Lee says.
Sound Inspiring Emotion
“You could really tell that the audience was loving what they were hearing coming out of the system. The crowd was moving with the bass and pushing up against the stage, practically embracing the subs,” Amber says of the vibe at The Main I and II during the festival. “We overheard people saying, ‘I didn’t expect to hear this level of quality sound here’.”
Dave Machinist, partner at Austin’s HE^RD Presents and Empire Control Room & Garage, which produced the shows taking place at The Main I and II, was one of few in attendance who was not surprised by the intensity supplied by the BASSBOSS loudspeakers. “We’ve been using BASSBOSS at Empire Control Room & Garage for the last few years and every time we think we’re at the limit, our BASSBOSS speakers aren’t even close to clipping,” Machinist says. “I tell everyone if you want your stage or mobile DJ setup to sound great and make your clothes flap without hurting your audience’s ears, go with BASSBOSS.”
A Big Future
For Amber and Lee, The Main I and II was just the tip of the iceberg for BASSBOSS’s new VS21 Subwoofers and LA88 Line Arrays. “We’ve barely scratched the surface of what we can do with these products,” Lee says. “The VS21 is a subwoofer that has broad appeal. It’s not just for EDM, it’s fantastic for reggae, rock n’ roll, country, you name it. And the LA88 has the power, throw, and coverage to be utilized for much larger spaces and audiences. We’re very pleased with these designs. They offer outstanding performance relative to their size and cost.” As BASSBOSS continues to be called on for the hottest clubs in Austin—“Austin’s about to get its 25th BASSBOSS installation,” Amber says—they know that SXSW festival-goers will take the visceral experience of BASSBOSS speakers delivering the sounds of DJ Jazzy Jeff, Steve Aoki, and Lil Uzi Vert home with them. “We were thrilled to see Steve Aoki tweeting about how happy he was with the show, which was the 20th Anniversary Party for Steve’s record label, Dim Mak. It was even better to see all of those ecstatic faces in the audience,” Amber concludes.