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Sound Makes the Scene

Six installations are defined by audio systems. Whether it’s the biggest nightclub in town, or an intimate Hollywood singer/songwriter mecca, or on a boat along a Chicago river, the experience—for both guests and artists—is defined by the audio system. For system designers, the palette is broader than ever as these installations show.

Nothing says “nightclub” like Ibiza. When the island’s largest nightclub puts on a special season-end event, its magnitude is difficult to ignore. Open since 1993, this mammoth club is the largest in the world and can host up to 10,000 guests at one time, each invited to be themselves and express themselves as they want. Possessing a staff of two-hundred, a ceiling height of twenty-five meters, a dance floor that stretches seemingly to the horizon, an impressive live stage, large windows and a glass dome for an observatory view of the stars at night, three floors, several terraces, plus a huge swimming pool with a DJ booth above it, it’s an unforgettable scene. For a glorious season finale evening, Privilege Ibiza brought in the big guns: a Clair Brothers C12 loudspeaker system, along with an assortment of more Clair Brothers gear, to cover the entire venue.

The fact that this is the largest club in the world allows management to redesign the venue for individual parties and artistic shows. For this event, they didn’t hold back, calling on Clair Brothers’ Spanish distribution and rental partner, VTècnics, to recommend and design a sound system worthy of the special occasion. Josep Maria Serra, production manager at VTècnics provides some back story: “The Clair Brothers team understands the concept and value of global sharing between its partners. On this occasion four companies in southern Europe shared their equipment and knowledge which allowed us to achieve the best sound possible. My company, VTècnics, worked with other Clair Brothers partners Grupo Friends, also from Spain, Audio Concept from France, and Prase Media Technologies from Italy. It’s a total team effort of collaboration and pitching in together!”

A downside of being such a massive venue with the ornate design features, such as glass and metallic surfaces all around, the acoustics present a real challenge to finding a strong, yet balanced sound throughout. Serra points out, “The venue does not have good acoustics because it has so many reflective surface elements. And the floor has a giant swimming pool with a cover on it, which unfortunately works as a big resonance box. What we needed to do was create a sound system that was strong on clarity, with powerful subs, that would be easy to control.”

An additional challenge for setting up the sound system was the presence of a monstrous lighting system. “We had fixed anchor points to hang the C12s,” explains Serra. “It was impossible to scroll the anchors in any direction because within the structure was a twenty-ton pro-lighting rig. It was essential that we respect those loading points.”

The final, exclusively Clair Brothers, sound system designed for the big event consisted of twenty-four C12s, twenty-four iS218s and eight FF2s for the main stage; eight i212s and two iS218s in an additional hall; twelve i212s and four iS218s in VIP Zones 1 & 2; four kiTCurve12s, two kiTSubs and four C12s in VIP Zone 3; two C12s and four iS218s for the DJ set monitor; and all amplifiers were CBPLM12K44s and CB-PLM20K44s.

The VTècnics production team that expertly pulled off the evening were sound designer, Francesc Güell; system engineer, Narcis Solé; sound assistant, Juan Carlos Álvarez; and monitor engineer, Konstantinos Ftoulis.


At the other end of the spectrum, the iconic Hollywood venue The Hotel Café has become a go-to place for intimate sets by great singer-songwriters, both in its main room, opened in 2000, and the second room, opened in 2016. The venue, whose two intimate spaces accommodate between 50 and 180 people, respectively, has hosted performances by such artists as John Mayer, Katy Perry, Adele, Sara Bareilles, Hozier, Ed Sheeran and Lucinda Williams. These rooms are capable of some very big sound, with sonic quality commensurate with the talent in them, thanks to installed P.A. systems from Bose Professional.

Hotel Café’s main room is equipped with a Bose Professional RoomMatch DeltaQ Array Loudspeaker system – one RoomMatch module on each side of the stage buttressed with a RoomMatch RMS218 dual-18 subwoofer (powered by one PowerMatch PM8500N networked amplifier for the RoomMatch speakers and an additional PM8500N for the subwoofer). The club’s second room has been Bose-equipped since its opening in 2016, with a pair of self-powered F1 Model 812 Flexible Array loudspeakers attached to the wall on either side of the stage, with two 1,000-watt F1 Subwoofers on the floor underneath the F1 arrays. The main room, an already-established venue with a reputation for great sound, was kicked up a notch with the upgrade to Room-Match – thereby making it an even stronger draw for artists and the industry pros they work with.

“We’ve had the RoomMatch sound system in here for the last six years, and when the second room was opened three years ago, the F1 system was the choice to install. Both of them have substantially elevated the sound here,” says John Wells, the club’s senior front-of-house mixer. “In fact, the second room has never had any other sound than Bose. And the sound in both rooms gets stellar reviews, from patrons and artists. You’ll see artist managers and record producers here to see and hear artists perform, and they’re the most critical audience of all. But once the set settles in and the show goes on, they’ll walk by the FOH console and you’ll see them give you the thumbs up letting you know the sound was great. The biggest compliment we get — and we get it often — is that the live show sounds like a record.”

The artists who perform at Hotel Café also agree. Troy Ramey, a singer-songwriter from Sea Cliff, New York, has played the venue twice (once on each stage). Whether he played through the F1s or the RoomMatch system, he felt the speakers were able to communicate his style of soulful, emotive music. “As a vocalist, I pay particular attention to how my voice sounds in a room,” he says. “I’m super happy when I see a Bose system, because it boosts my confidence. I know the audience is going to hear me the way I hear myself.”

Wells says artists love playing the rooms, and Bose sound helps create the kind of environment that makes them want to come back again, whether they play folk, rock, jazz, electronica, or hip-hop.


Entertainment Cruises’ newest boat, the Odyssey Chicago River, is the first dinner cruise on the river. While the glass-enclosed vessel delivers an impressive 360-degree view of the downtown Chicago skyline, the acoustics were challenging and highly reverberant. Entertainment Cruises principals sought out the Integrated Solutions division of OSA International, Inc. to design and install the audio system. OSA’s Director of Integrations, Brandon Gardner, knew that they would have to limit the sound reflections off the glass. “The main speakers are the d&b 16C column loudspeakers,” Gardner explains. “They are a passive cardioid column speaker, which had to be used to limit excessive rear LF reflections off the back of the speaker, basically lowering how much sound bounces off the glass walls.

At the time of design and install, d&b audiotechnik was the only manufacturer offering a passive cardioid column speaker, so the 16Cs were the obvious choice.”

Inside the boat, OSA supplemented the 16Cs with K-Array Rumble-KU210 subwoofers. A high-power passive sub, the component was chosen for both its performance and size. “I needed to fit the subwoofers into a 7.5-in. deep soffit, and the K-Array was the perfect choice as it is a dual 10-in. subwoofer that is only 6-in. deep,” says Gardner.

In addition to the interior, the boat also featured an outside observation space. Cruising the Chicago River, the speakers would need to endure the elements. “We also chose d&b speakers for the outside. The d&b 5Ss have one of the highest weather resistant (IP34) ratings available for performance loudspeakers, which was important considering the application. Another benefit is that they can be used as a stand-alone speaker cabinet without subs. We installed four on the bow and two on the stern.” The d&b 5S loudspeakers are available in special colors, so OSA was able to match the speakers’ surroundings making them less noticeable.

OSA designed the system with a BSS BLU100 at the core. Additionally, the audio is controlled through the BSS using wall plates and an iPad application that OSA designed.

“The client approached us based on our work at Navy Pier. It was exciting to be a part of the construction process of the boat and seeing the satisfaction on everyone’s faces when we turned the audio system on for the first time. The acoustics sounded great!”


The newly-opened Mandrake has already established itself as a popular staple of the Miami Beach dining/nightlife scene. In addition to a variety of sushi and pan Asian cuisine prepared by executive chef Jimmy Gallagher, the restaurant is known for its over the top décor including a life-sized gorilla to greet the patrons and bright fuchsia-colored lighting. Equally important for the restaurant’s ambiance, is the sound system installed by Miami’s AVL Innovations (AVLI) taking full advantage of Martin Audio’s flexible CDDs and their companion subs.

“Mandrake has several floors and multiple rooms,” AVLI’s James Reed explains. “There’s a sushi bar in the front room where we used eight Martin Audio CDD8s mounted on the wall along with four SX210 subwoofers built into the banquettes, then there’s a hallway leading to the main dining room with two CDD8s.

“In the main dining room and bar, we wall-mounted six CDD10s with four SX210 subwoofers also built into the seating. The program material is basically high quality background music earlier in the evening, which turns into more of a nightclub atmosphere with dining and dancing later on. There’s also a patio area with a garden that has four CDD8-WRs and two CSX212-WR subs.”

Continuing the Martin Audio CDD theme, a lounge bar area upstairs has six wall-mounted CDD-LIVE12s––four for the room and two positioned alongside the DJ booth on a small stage for monitoring, along with four CSX-LIVE118 subwoofers. There is also a DJ setup downstairs in a corner of the main dining room that can be played through the house system or in the individual rooms.

Powering is provided by Lab Gruppen and Biamp loudspeaker management, with Crestron control to tie the lighting and audio system together. AVLI were also responsible for the sophisticated LED RGB lighting system that runs throughout the venue in the soffits near the ceiling and behind the bar to enhance the interior atmosphere, designed by Miami hotshot Mark Lehmkuhl.


Like Ibiza, the Caribbean is an exciting and competitive club scene. Trinidad-based Streamline Systems has developed a reputation for designing great-sounding, visually unique spaces throughout the region, most recently with Club Next on their home island, Streamline’s third club for Princess International Group, notes Mike Pereira, Stream – line’s Field Director.

Club Next Trinidad is notable for its circular bar surrounding an elevated performance stage in the center of the room. “It’s primarily a DJ club, but with the ability to go live when needed,” explains Pereira. “To avoid feed – back, we aimed the main speakers outward from above the bar, then set up a separate zone of speakers for the stage, which can be used as monitors.”

The 11 main loudspeakers are all Electro-Voice EVF-1122D, a powerful 12-inch, 2-way design. Eight are ceiling-hung above the bar, radiating outwards to fill the dance floor, VIP booths and seating around the room. Two more speakers are aimed at the raised stage, and one is dedicated to the DJ booth.

“The mains are hung right above the bar – tenders, so the sound fills the room, but the customers don’t have to shout their drink orders. Little touches like that really contribute to the customer experience,” says Pereira. “We love the EVF-D speakers in nightclubs, because they run cool at high SPL. They have so much reserve power running at 8 ohms that they are lasting forever. The fact that EV makes them in six dispersion patterns means that we can always find the right speaker for the hang positions dictated by a club’s layout and our sound design.”

Bass frequencies are supplied via six EV QRx 218S subwoofers. Four of these com – pact dual 18-inch boxes are located directly in front of the DJ booth at the back of the club, with the remaining two placed at the opposite end for sonic balance. The final requirement was to bring the music to the outdoor lounge area. For that task, Streamline Systems selected three EV ZX3/90 speakers, a weatherized full-range design built to with – stand Trinidad’s constant heat and humidity. The entire installation is powered by nine EV CPS2.12 amplifiers.





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