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News by
Gideon Plotnicki

If You Turned This New Audio System To Maximum Volume, It Would Literally Kill You

Dance music is facing a renaissance. As the EDM movement has grown and grown, the artistic nature of music and dj-ing has slowly become a thing of the past. With epic productions that include huge LED screens, lasers, smoke, confetti, and more being launched from massive festival stages, what used to be the music of club culture has evolved into somewhat of an ugly beast. Fans go to shows and spend most of their time facing in one direction, elevating the DJ as an almost god-like figure, with everyone in the audience attracted to the stage in packed clusters.

Well, fear not, as Despacio is here to save the day. The brainchild of James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem, brothers David and Stephen Dewaele of 2ManyDJs, and famed audio engineer John Klett, the point of the project is to provide extremely high quality audio while basically placing the DJs behind a wall at the back of the room. The goal is to de-emphasize the DJ, and re-emphasize the music, the quality of the audio, and the experience itself. There is also an emphasis on slowing things down (despacio means slow in Spanish), to create a more funky and naturally danceable vibe. The DJs make sure to pick recognizable songs by Talking Heads, Queen, and Kraftwerk while mixing in deeper-cut dance tracks.

James Murphy uses an interesting analogy to describe the intent behind this, explaining:

"If you are in a restaurant, the chef isn't at the front of the room throwing food at you. He's in the kitchen and when the food comes out you are with the food and not with the chef."

Despacio itself is not your typical sound system. The speaker cabinets surround the dance floor, instead of being located at the front of the room. The huge speaker towers themselves are absolutely beautiful, having been designed using natural wood casings by McIntosh, the same company that built the Grateful Dead's famous "Wall of Sound" in the 1970s. Vinyl is the only medium that can be used with this system, giving the sound a throwback feel and a more natural vibe, as all of the crackles and pops of the vinyl shine through for an extremely clear presentation of the music.

Despacio is certainly powerful. As the Dead's "Wall of Sound" required 30,000-watts to run, this huge audio system requires 50,000-watts. David Dewaele touches on the ridiculous power of the system, saying that it "runs at 20 percent. If we ran the system at its full capacity, people would die. People's ears would literally be bleeding." How ridiculous!

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Read the full story by Gideon Plotnicki at Live for Live Music





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