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100 Sutton

An interview with Adel Hinawi: The Mastermind Behind 100 Sutton’s Legendary Sound System

Arab American Music

100 Sutton: You’re an acoustic engineer by trade. What brought you to this specific specialty?

Adel:  My interest in acoustics started in college when I was studying engineering. I took a job as a recording engineer in a studio during my second year of college. I noticed that the sound in the studio was not ideal for recording so I decided to fix that. I started learning from books about acoustics to figure out what to do and eventually came up with redesign plans for the studio which was implemented and transformed the space. Realizing the overlap between music and engineering which is perfectly represented in acoustics was very exciting to me and made total sense for me to put my energy in acoustics. 

100 Sutton: How did you get into throwing events?

Adel:  In 2010 I got involved in the design and construction of a venue in Westchester called Purpl.org. I ended up working for the organization and I ran the theater for about 10 years.

100 Sutton: What brought you to / how did you get involved with 100 Sutton?

Adel:  I came across photos of 100 Sutton when I was looking for a space to start my new venue project Funoon. I fell in love with how open the space is and with the welcoming raw feel of it. I proposed to Sutton to do an acoustical upgrade to studio E and retrofit it with a sound and lighting systems and that was the start of our working relationship.

100 Sutton: Tell me a little about Funoon. What is your mission? What brought it about? Do you run the entire operation?

Adel:  Funoon in essence is a performing arts presenter specializing in Arab performing arts. Funoon’s mission is driven by a heartfelt desire to expand the appreciation of Middle Eastern cultural performing arts across the broader American audience while fostering a connection to introduce American music and performances to the Arab American community. Funoon is a not-for-profit organization and I’m the executive director. I am in fact involved in many of the operation tasks and I do many of the tasks myself. We have 4 people on the board and they also help occasionally–especially on events in addition to their work on big picture tasks like fundraising and promoting the organization. We also have technical staff for events and a wonderful list of volunteers who help run the events.

100 Sutton: You designed the sound system at 100 Sutton. Can you speak a little about your choices, challenges, and the resulting experience for performers and musicians?

Adel:  I went with Meyer Sound PA system which is probably the most reputable company and also my personal favorite. Especially since versatility is required in the space as it is expected to host a wide range of events from DJ dance parties to world music and piano performances. 

The design challenges were primarily related to the shape of the space. Typically the best way to ensure an even spread of sound for a large area like our room would be to place speakers high up above the audience, but our ceilings are not high enough for that so we went for wide spread short-range speakers for the mains and depended on delay speakers to ensure even coverage of the sound in the rest of the space. As for the acoustics we used absorption to balance the reverb and reflection panels to focus the sound energy on the audience area.  Another challenge was preventing sound from reaching the neighbors–especially bass since the ceiling is made with light wooden planks. We used a single-point subwoofer placement and put them at the solid brick wall side. This helped get an even distribution of bass at the audience area with minimum leak outside the space. The final result was an even coverage of the full spectrum of sound throughout the entire audience area and free from harsh reflections.

100 Sutton: What’s coming up with Funoon and 100 Sutton? Anything you’re particularly excited about?

Adel:  We’ll soon be announcing a bunch of shows for July and the fall. Moroccan music, an up-beat funk band, and an Arabic ballet dance company are some of the ones I’m excited about. Best way to be updated is to sign up to our mailing list at www.funoon.us

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