I didn’t mention in my last post having a long chat at the Mill with John Svec, owner & operator of Minstel Recording Studio, and live sound installation guru. He told me that an unexpected bonus of the Picador morphing back into Gabe’s was that the new owners gave him a free hand in renovating the live sound system upstairs.
So what did he do? He brought back the best parts of the old Gabe’s PA — the speakers, and took away the oft-criticized JBL digital speaker arrays, which sounded (in my opinion) harsh, grating and cold. The Picador system required active digital equalization to sound even remotely acceptable, and it never really meshed properly with the room. The old Gabe’s system (lovingly brought up to like-new condition by Svec and his audio minions, naturally) was famously warm, with a bottom end that could shake your drink off the table.
Still in place are the Picador’s industrial strength Crest power amplifiers, replacing the wonderful, but temperamental mixed bag of vintage PA amps. I used to do the sound for the Rotation techno nights, and if someone knocked over the filthy box fan that cooled the amp rack on stage, the subwoofers would lose power after an hour or so when the mighty Altec’s thermal protection circuit kicked in.