Many clubs in New York City can legitimately compete for the title of trendiest nightspot, but only one can lay claim to combining a digital 5.1 surround
Publish date:


Jul 1, 2003 12:00 PM

Many clubs in New York City can legitimately compete for the title of trendiest nightspot, but only one can lay claim to combining a digital 5.1 surround sound and 360-degree image projection on floor-to-ceiling video walls with the usual club characteristics of aesthetics and vibe: Club Vue in midtown Manhattan.

Although this sensory overload might thrill club goers, it provided some interesting challenges in terms of audio and video system design.

The club's main room features a 30-foot-high domed ceiling that's also part of the projection system. In order to increase image contrast, video is projected on one continuous surface that starts six feet off the ground and goes up the walls and across the dome of the ceiling. The digital, panoramic images are swept across the painted walls of the hemispheric-shaped room by nine strategically placed Sanyo LCD video projectors.

Each video feed is custom generated, frame by frame, and the projection system actually scans the room by laser to gauge the dimensions, which are loaded into the video system. Those dimensions are then used to configure the video in order to match the room's curves and present the perception of one solid image.

“With that type of design, we couldn't do many acoustic treatments because all the walls are video projection surfaces, so any acoustic treatments would disrupt the video,” says system designer Chris Obssuth of Musically Yours in Rochelle Park, New Jersey. “We were stuck with just hard plaster walls, which pose a lot of problems. It was critical that we aimed the speakers just right and tuned the system correctly.”

The design of the video projection system actually helped Obssuth design the audio components. “With the video system being a surround video system, we naturally went with surround-sound audio,” he says.

With a 1,500W system powered by more than two dozen QSC Audio CX and MX Series amplifiers, the sound system reaches all of Club Vue's patrons, whether they are in the 650-capacity main room, relaxing in the luxurious 150-person VIP area/lounge, or showing their style in any of the 6,000-square-foot club's bars or dance areas.

Set up essentially as a normal 5.1 system, with a left center right and two rear channels with subwoofers at the front, the heart of the club's sound is provided by SLS Loudspeakers. The main dance floor contains four SLS T3RH/FT speakers as the main left and right channels with one SLS 112RT-I positioned in the center. Additionally, the floor is made up of six SLS T218/4K double-18-inch subs, and four other SLS speakers are implemented to provide rear and side coverage.

The room's acoustic challenges were because of the hemispheric shape of the ceiling.

“The shape of the room made speaker placement difficult because the room has a lot of echo right in the center,” Obssuth says. “The SLS speakers worked well with the shape of the room because they have a very controlled, vertical dispersion, so it helps keep a lot of the sound from bouncing up into the dome and presenting echo problems. The curve of the room in the front where the subs are placed into is an excellent reflective surface, focusing the bass right onto the dance floor. Just the natural shape of the room blends itself well to a lot of nice bottom end.”

In the main room, the goal was to achieve a home-theater-like sound and, according to Obssuth, the SLS speakers' ribbon design helped significantly.

“The ribbon tweeters lend themselves naturally to a vertically controlled dispersion pattern,” he says. “The ribbon itself acts almost like a line array does in that the wave coming off is like a linear wave instead of a conical wave, so it naturally has a controlled vertical dispersion, which produces remarkable intelligibility.”

The club owners were interested in delivering high-end sound coverage throughout the club, with even dispersion throughout the entire floor.

“There are no hot spots,” Obssuth says. “You can walk from the front to the back of the room and have even distributed sound. Therefore, without having extreme levels at any one point, you have intelligible sound throughout, creating a very comfortable atmosphere, whether the setting is designed for a warm lounge environment or a full-blown dance club environment.”

Six SLS UB2BR loudspeakers placed underneath the balcony provide sound to the main bar area. The second-floor dance area/lounge is powered by two SLS 112RT-Is and two US215SW-I subs.

The main room also features a Lexicon surround processor with Pioneer DVD players that can support both Super Audio CD and DVD-Audio, giving the club DJs flexibility to work with new media formats that take full advantage of the system's surround capabilities.

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