"Richard Dalbec, owner of Dalbec Audio in Troy, aims one
of his custom-made loudspeakers on the stage at the Troy Savings
Bank Music Hall. Dalbec's speakers are used at the Music Hall, the
Egg in Albany, and various nightclubs, schools, and churches."
Shaping Sound (abridged)
Troy Man Makes waves with his loudspeakers.
By Michael Lisi
For Richard Dalbec, it's all about the size and
As in how to get a bigger, cleaner, crisper sound
from a loudspeaker while making the speaker smaller.
That's been the challenge Dalbec, owner of Troy-based
Dalbec Audio Laboratory, has set for himself. He has been at it
since he was a teen-ager, designing speakers to improve sound quality
while reducing the size of the speaker cabinet itself.
His work has finally started to pay off.
Dalbec's loudspeakers are at the Troy Savings Bank
Music Hall, the Agnes S. Macdonald Music Haven Stage in Schenectady's
Central Park, Union College's Nott Memorial Chapel and the Van Dyck
Restaurant & Brewery, among other venues.
His speakers are used at several area colleges,
more than 20 high schools, and 30 Capital Region churches. And Dalbec
is set to design and install the sound system for the new minor
league ballpark being built at Hudson Valley Community College for
the Tri-City Valley Cats.
But his latest accomplishment is his most impressive.
A set of six Dalbec designed speaker enclosures
were installed in the 962 seat Kitty Carlisle Hart Theatre at the
Egg in August.
"The Egg is a very important showcase,"
said Maycock. "We've received a number of very favorable comments."
"We've been very satisfied with the results,"
said Peter Lesser, the Egg's executive director.
Dalbec's speakers, each containing two 12-inch speakers
and a horn for high frequencies, delivered crystal clear sound for
the Celtic fiddler Natalie MacMaster during her Nov. 3 Egg performance.
Despite their small size, the speakers, suspended
above the stage, were powerful and precise, allowing fans to hear
MacMaster's bow rub against her strings at times between songs.
To subsidize his speaker development work, Dalbec
opened a small retail shop at 58 King Street in Troy to sell speakers
built by him and other manufacturers, do speaker repair and rent
sound systems to area bands, clubs and for music events.
While his store brought in some revenue, it wasn't
easy for Dalbec at first; without a track record, Dalbec had a difficult
time winning commercial job bids for his speakers.
Things developed slowly; Dalbec got his first commercial
break about seven years ago, winning a contract to install an audio
system at Gloversville High School. Word about the system - which
Dalbec said featured high performance loudspeakers - spread and
Dalbec soon found himself with work.
Dalbec's next sound challenge came in 1996, at the
Troy Music Hall. Looking to improve the hall's amplified sound,
Lesser, then the Music Hall's executive director, asked Dalbec if
he had any ideas how to handle the tricky situation.
The Music Hall, built in 1875 has near perfect sound
without amplification. But the Hall's high ceilings and design can
result in a muddy, washed-out sound mix when music is amplified.
There is also a four-second reverberation in the gallery seats (the
second balcony tier), making it difficult to hear what's going on.
Dalbec placed small speakers in the windows above
the gallery to help the sound there; he also put speakers in the
organ lofts to upgrade the sound in the balconies.
It's a big hit. You can hear someone scratching
a pick up there," said Dalbec proudly. "You want the sound
system to sound like it's not there."
On stage, Dalbec has a small set of speakers with
specially built cabinets that direct sound so that it disperses
equally around the Music Hall.
"They have designed a cabinet system that really
works with our venue," said Laura Kraft, the Music Hall's executive
director. "Less is more here."
Despite his successes, Dalbec is still fighting
Some performers won't rent or use his systems, or
will augment them with more speakers, thinking they are too small
to cover a venue with sound - a continuous source of frustration
Dalbec's custom speakers run from $1,500 to $3,000
each, he said, depending on size and power.