Music’s Best Address Just Got Even Better

3TEN ACL Live_1_Alison Narro Photography - SMALL3TEN ACL Live_5_Alison Narro Photography - SMALL

Music’s Best Address just got even better. 3TEN ACL Live is the latest addition to the venerable Austin City Limits brand and family.

Located downstairs from ACL Live in downtown Austin, 3TEN is a 350-person capacity state-of-the-art showcase listening room presenting smaller “house” shows of world-renowned, emerging, and local artists, as well as custom private event experiences.

As the newest extension of the Austin City Limits experience, 3TEN is reverently reminiscent of the original ACL Studio 6A at the University of Texas in both size and commitment to musical discovery and excellence. And as with its bigger cousin ACL Live, 3TEN is also the embodiment of style, technological innovation, and exceptional quality. The venue is equipped with the most advanced audio and lighting systems available to deliver a live music experience like no other.

3TEN’s interior is rich with dark hardwoods, lush velvet, and brass trimmings and features stately VIP and Green Rooms. The venue’s large sliding glass front doors open up the breadth of the façade to the 3TEN patio on Willie Nelson Boulevard. Fans can easily see the stage from the patio while enjoying a beverage from the patio service window for the interior bar. The space is wired for livestreaming, recording sound and video, and is customizable. Whether it’s a regular concert, ACL Live after-show, wedding, or corporate affair, the space can be configured in any manner depending on the needs of the event.

To continue ACL Live’s commitment to sustainability, 3TEN was constructed with all LEED certification requirements in place, including an impressive array of digital screen displays—the largest is a 9.8′ x 16.4′ LED video wall positioned behind the stage. LEED is a mark of excellence developed by the U.S. Green Building Council acknowledging measurable performance attributes that benefit human and environmental health.

The architecture firm responsible for 3TEN ACL Live is Sanders Architecture; the Project Team includes Christopher Sanders, Isabelle Bogran, Jena Hammond, and Catherine Craig. The interior design was handled by Heather Plimmer and Cate DeForest of Heston Design Studio.

The Austin American-Statesman just ran an in-depth story on the development of 3TEN–read it here.

Black high-gloss ship lap walls, polished concrete floors, floor to ceiling black velvet drapery and antique brass accents set the tone for 3TEN’s refined interiors. The main performance space is clad in materials that were selected not only for their aesthetics, but also—and primarily—for their acoustical properties. By specifying each of these materials in a single shade of black, the combination of surfaces reads as a textural play and allows the performances, not the space, to take center stage.

The main performance area is juxtaposed by a 26’ bar that graces the east wall of the venue. The front bar is topped in a 2” thick mottled quartzite material and accented by a 9’ tall back bar comprised of mirror, brass rods, and color-changing LED lighting.

Directly adjacent to both of these spaces sits an intimate VIP room which is wrapped in dark brown velvet panels and locally made channel banquettes. There is a series of six shaded sconces that accent the color changing cove lighting and a 65” television which can be used to view the performance or your favorite sporting event. The VIP room is also home to a series of five locally made Cerused oak and brass bar height tables and stools wrapped in Edelman leather. A perforated steel door (situated directly beside a glass and steel cabinet that houses the room’s vintage stereo equipment) provides a direct connection between the VIP room and the bar.

Down the main corridor, the white subway tile walls and black marble floors provide the perfect backdrop for a series of two dozen Scott Newton photos from the 1970’s. Opposite are the designated catering and production storage spaces.

The Greenroom is located directly behind the stage and is wrapped in the same high gloss black shiplap panels as the main venue space. Designed to function as a comfortable home away from home for both the bride-to-be, as well as an artist and her production team, the space is fully equipped with a full-size refrigerator, dry bar, counter height vanity & desk area, full length mirror, 65” television, vintage cassette collection, and one carefully curated mint-condition boom-box from the 1980’s.

The 3TEN venue design team began with a singular vision for the audio system—to provide an unparalleled listening experience for the audience. With the tremendous success of the venue experience achieved in adjacent ACL Live, the objective for the team was to translate this experience into the intimate and unique setting of 3TEN.

To achieve this experience, the audio designers opted to use the same d&b V series line array system currently installed in ACL Live, which provides the full spectrum coverage, clarity, and impact that has made the theater one of the premier music venues for audiences and artists. The d&b V system for 3TEN is, of course, scaled to fit the size and characteristics of the space and, like the bigger venue, features d&b’s latest Array Processing technology, which insures consistent coverage throughout the venue. In addition to the main line arrays, there are strategically placed fill speakers throughout the space to insure that everyone can connect with what’s happening on-stage.

To provide low frequency impact and energy to the room, a cardioid array of d&b V Subs and a d&b J INFRA ultra-low frequency subwoofer are positioned directly under the stage. This configuration produces extremely clean low-end throughout the listening area by minimizing the amount of low frequency reflected behind the stage and elsewhere in the space. The J INFRA is capable of producing significant output at frequencies below 30Hz, which let the audience “feel” the performance as well as hearing it. This design approach has become a standard for many large festivals, electronic dance music shows, and arena tours. It was included as part of the 3TEN design to deliver this exceptional bass response as part of the listening experience accommodating any style of music or event.
Behind the scenes, mixing all of the performance elements together, is a Midas Pro 2 digital mixing console. This console has earned a strong reputation for exceptional sound quality, ease of use, and is recognized throughout the touring industry as one of the preferred console types, regardless of the venue size. Its widespread use means that engineers are comfortable with the platform and know how to get the best results from the console. To insure the cleanest possible signal, the system design features all digital audio distribution directly from the stage, to the console, and then to the d&b amplifiers.

Of course an audio system design for any space would not be complete without attention given to the acoustic characteristics of the room. In developing the design for 3TEN, acoustic consultants worked closely with the audio design team and the architects to select proper materials and strategically position acoustic treatment to optimize the listening experience. As a result, numerous acoustic panels, acoustic materials, and physical absorption techniques are implemented throughout the space to improve the clarity and intelligibility of the audio system while complimenting the aesthetic of the unique interior design.

While the audio system is designed to provide the best possible listening experience for the audience, it must also provide an equally impressive experience for the artists on stage and their production crew, so that they both can deliver their performance without distractions or equipment deficiencies. Offering the right monitoring equipment on stage is certainly a key part of this equation. For 3TEN, the system features d&b’s newest Max 2 monitors designed expressly to provide a clear and natural reference for each of the performers on stage. Similarly, the extensive microphone assortment, accessible interconnections between the stage and the mix position, and the ability to easily supplement the artist’s monitor system if needed, allow the production crews to do their jobs effectively and get the results their performances demand.

Part of any venue’s ability to attract world-class local, regional and national artists, is to offer an exceptional overall production package. An important part of providing this package is understanding all the often forgotten details that go into making a successful performance. For this reason, the audio design team worked closely with the 3TEN production team from the beginning to achieve the most “production friendly” system. Centralized equipment racks, transformer isolated microphone splitters, multiple console location options, wireless console control, ample AC power availability, wireless “house” microphones for critical announcements, computer based system diagnostic tools, and experienced in-house audio engineering technicians are just a few of the details that help make the 3TEN production package flexible and accommodating to any type of performance or event.

The 3TEN venue is designed for more than live music performances. In fact, the audio system features a completely separate distributed loudspeaker system with flown subwoofers designed for private events and unique room setups. When the stage is not needed for a show, it can be removed and stored along with all of the ground set subwoofers, leaving this area completely open and available for use. There are several microphone and audio input panels located throughout the space that can be used for playback, speeches, or announcements with level control available in discrete locations. If the event requires the use of the Midas Pro 2 mixing console, but it is not ideally suited to be in the main room, it can be located backstage and controlled via a WiFi connection. Independent source and volume selection for every speaker zone make the system extremely flexible and versatile.

Conveying the energy, the magic, and the message of a performance on stage to the audience at 3TEN is the foundation of the audio system design and the concept for the venue as a whole. And while there are countless design details, pieces of equipment, hundreds of cables and connectors, knobs and buttons, none of this should be part of the venue experience. What should be a part of the experience is for the audience to connect with the artist, performer, speaker, bride or CEO and for each and every person to leave after an event with the impression that the 3TEN venue is unlike any venue they have experienced.

The centerpiece of the video system at 3TEN is an impressive 9 foot tall by 16 foot wide LED video wall positioned directly behind the stage on the north wall of the venue. This wall spans nearly the entire width of the stage (which is 20 feet) and features a 3.9mm pixel pitch, which provides excellent resolution for even the closest viewers. It is certainly the largest video wall of its type in a venue of this size anywhere in Austin and likely for hundreds, if not thousands, of miles around. Needless to say, the object of the LED wall design is to create an unparalleled audience experience that sets 3TEN apart from the rest.

The LED wall is composed of 60 individual panels that connect seamlessly to create one single display surface. There are no visible lines and with the relatively high resolution it appears as an exceptionally large “big-screen” television. Unlike a conventional projection system that might be seen in similar applications, the LED wall offers tremendously high output (1500 NIT) with a light characteristic that captures people’s attention more effectively. Moreover, it is not subject to obstructions from objects between a projector and a screen, making the LED wall ideally suited to use a backdrop for a stage by keeping the image intact at all times. As a backdrop, the content can range from static images to full motion video or anything in between that best suits the performance. If the LED wall is not desired for a particular performance, it can be concealed by drapery that is installed directly in front of it.

The video routing configuration for the LED wall allows for a single video image to be displayed or multiple video sources to be shown in a quad screen mode. While the single image setup is likely to be used for most performances, the multi-image mode can be utilized for private events, sporting events, advertising content or any application where multiple video sources are desired.

To integrate the visual content of the LED wall with the theme and atmosphere of the venue’s lighting system, the wall can be pixel mapped to coordinate directly with the lighting system using the High End Media Server HD Pro via DMX control. This feature offers endless possibilities for creating extremely impressive appearances and visual motion for the entire venue. The Media Server is also a powerful tool to store, access and playback multiple custom video files, logos, or promotional content.
In addition to the LED wall, the venue features 65” Samsung LED/LCD Displays in the VIP Room and the Green Room. Both are integrated into the video routing system. There are HD video inputs located throughout the venue to allow for additional video sources to be connected to the system and routed to any display including the LED wall.
The LED wall in combination with, the Media Server, its extensive potential for video content, flexible routing, and the multi view features, make this system truly a highlight of the 3TEN venue.

The initial lighting design concept stemmed from the desire to incorporate the latest technology and the need for versatility with fixture types and placement. The rig would need to have the ability to create an intimate artistic performance space which could then transform into an engaging corporate meeting space or nightlife friendly hotspot with minimal turnaround. There were various methods used to achieve this.

The primary element of ensuring sufficient light, suitable for television if needed, was covered with ETC Source 4 Series 2 LED Ellipsoidal fixtures equipped with zoom lenses and placed in key or front light positions. These were mounted centrally in the room on
a pipe grid that spans the entire performance space. The central mounting location allows for these fixtures be focused onto an object or person virtually anywhere in the room. These fixtures are capable of mixing color beyond that of standard RGB + AW LED as well.

The coverage carries on with state of the art High End Systems intelligent LED fixtures. SolaSpot Pro CMY and SolaWash 19 fixtures allow for positioning and color control and can be used as a backlighting element, effect lighting element, or supplemental architectural element depending on the needs of any given event. With strategic placement of these fixtures, surrounding the stage and filling in the audience area, immersive environments and vibes can be created and changed with the press of a button.

The architectural element in the performance space, consisting of Ketra G2 LED cove fixtures and ETC D40 LED accents on columns, allows for the room itself to become part of the show when the extra push is needed. By uniting the stage lighting elements, the architectural lighting elements, and the media server element all onto one control network, nothing seems out of place. From keynote speeches to rock and roll, the lighting is spot on.

3TEN has been designed with state of the art technology to insure our guests and clients have the ultimate experience. ACL Live has extended its WiFi network along with its digital signage and audio/video feeds to 3TEN providing the finest in entertainment and technology. Our fiber and Ethernet backbone runs a purpose-built Cisco network, engineered with speed, reliability and security in mind thus insuring the highest level of performance. We have installed numerous servers and computers to manage our impressive list of sound, lighting and video equipment. Also implemented is the latest WiFi technology giving the highest reliable connection to live stream your entire event or simply upload a video or picture to your favorite social media site. Our digital signage system is designed to showcase our client’s events at its highest quality to one or all of our HD displays including our cutting edge video wall. Other technologies include Uverse TV service, a new POS system and security system.


Architecture: Christopher Sanders, Isabelle Bogran, Jena Hammond and Catherine Craig of Sanders Architecture*
Interiors: Heather Plimmer & Cate DeForest*
Acoustics: Dan Hemme with BAI*
Theatrical Consultant: Curtis Kasefang
Audio/Video: Roy Kircher and Zach Richards of Big House Sound*
Performance Lighting: Bryan Schrumpf of Go Show Pro*
IT: German Garcia*

*Local to Austin