The Design Behind the Decibels

Posted by Drake, January 02, 2014
A good patch cord: veins for the Underground's lifeblood

A good patch cord: veins for the Underground's lifeblood

It's not that the old sound rig we had at Drake Underground had issues, but as with anything, the candle that burns twice as bright burns half as long. Or perhaps a more fitting turn of phrase would describe a long, sustained, howling shriek at the climax of a rock anthem, the singer's voice wavering and faltering halfway through. Now imagine that, instead of a few bars in the middle of a song, that shriek has been ongoing for ten glittering, foot-stomping years.

You've just imagined what life would be like as a hundred-watt speaker cabinet in the Drake Underground.

Over time, the cumulative effect of making so many Friday and Saturday nights for so many definitely began to show. We like to keep the party cranked all the way to eleven at Drake, of course, and to do so, we've always needed strong technology able to keep up with what our guests expect—essentially, having their ribcages shaken by the best bass, treble, and mid-range in the business.

So, one of our last projects of 2013 was to upgrade the sound system in the Underground, and we're happy to announce that 2014 kicks off with a whole new wall of sound, ready to roll. We caught up with our audiovisual wizard at The Drake, Brian Ireland, to tell us all about it:


1) First of all, tell me about an average day managing all things audiovisual at Toronto's premiere arts, culture and nightlife destination.

An average day consists of a lot of different things. We have so many events happening so preparing for them is top priority. Making sure the needs of each client are met and that they have everything they require for success.

2) How did you start working as Drake's audiovisual manager? Where does your expertise come from, and what inspired you to start working in the industry to begin with?

Twitter is how I heard of the opportunity. Before I started here I was freelancing as an AV Tech and Production Manager for live events for fifteen-plus years. I got into the business accidentally. I went to school for music production and engineering. It’s a tough field to be successful in, so I had to find other ways to use my skill set. AV was a natural fit.

3) There have been some major overhauls happening at the Underground's sound system. At risk of spoiling any surprises, what can you tell us about it?

Well I can tell you that it sounds amazing! To be honest there isn’t much that’s surprising about it. It’s the right PA for the space. We now have sufficient head room so we can have it loud without driving it to much. Essentially it’s twice the system we had before and the processing and amplifiers are top notch. We worked with an old friend of mine Jim Stojanovski who is a co owner of Bold Audio. You can check them out here.

4) What event (or events) comes to mind when you think about the greatest challenges you've faced in your role. By the same token, what about a day when things went seamlessly?

So far the greatest challenges have been upgrading our equipment so we are at the level of every other department. It’s been long overdue so I’ve had to make do with aging and dysfunctional gear. We are now addressing that with the PA in The Underground and we will be doing a full install for the whole building in the next few weeks. I must be honest I don’t think we’ve had a day that’s been seamless. It’s definitely the goal and we’ll get there but we’re not there yet. We’ve had seamless events and that’s satisfying and really as long as our clients are happy that’s what matters.

5) As we expand—first to Drake One Fifty, now to Prince Edward County—what sort of role do you find yourself playing?

I’d like to eventually oversee all AV matters throughout the company. I think it’s important to maintain a standard across the board and every property should operate with that mentality. Director of Audio Visual Services sounds nice.

6) Any hopes or plans for 2014?

My plan for The Drake is to get our systems and operations up to a standard we can all be proud of and turn the AV department in to a profitable part of the business.

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