The new Matches Sports Bar, located 60 miles south of London, in Elwick Place in Ashford, opened its doors in the summer of 2021, and has been a live sports and entertainment destination hot spot ever since. Critical to the bar’s rapid success was a sharp focus on designing and installing a very flexible, high-quality, easy-to-use sound system to deliver audio to Matches’ large and small spaces for public and private events. The team developed a comprehensive networked audio system with a set of Dante-connected, multi-channel amplifiers at its core.
Matches owner, Jon Shephard, explained that the concept for the 250-capacity venue is to bring together all the best elements of bars he has visited into a single place, and create the ultimate sports bar experience with excellent AV entertainment that appeals to a wide range of sports enthusiasts. With this goal in mind, audio zoning is a critical factor for the multi-use, multi-space bar, allowing the control across the large central bar area, as well as private and semi-private spaces so the audio from various televised events and shows don’t conflict with each other.
For the main bar, Shephard wants to immerse patrons in a full AV experience with all the excitement of live sports at game time. But then after a match, he wants to turn up the music and keep the party going with excellent, high-quality sound and coverage. For the smaller spaces away from the main bar, Matches employees need complete audio system control to assure customers are part of the excitement but at a lower level, and be able to enjoy their own conversations.
A team from MADE Worldwide AV, out of Wye, England, designed and installed the sound system for Matches. Ashley Bond, Audio Visual & IT Specialist at MADE, was the project’s lead designer and point person. Bond explained that they needed to cover all areas of the bar with an easy-to-use system to support a mix of multiple channels and zones for the areas, as well as allow for future expansion.
“We used a set of Dante native Powersoft Mezzo 604AD amps because of the flexibility and the power; we’re pushing a lot of power to several zones,” said Bond. “With the Dante network, we can mix channels between amps and Power Share on different channels.”
The amplifiers, like all audio components at Matches, run back to a central Aruba 24p full PoE switch. Bond explained that the system’s audio path moves from a Sky Q satellite box to the analog inputs of the first Mezzo Dante connected amplifier. The Dante output channels of the amp are then sent to the second amp, allowing for control of all levels and zones via routing inside the amplifier’s built-in DSP. Dante Controller was used to configure all patching and routing.
The Dante platform is a complete AV-over-IP solution that allows audio, video and control data to be transported over standard 1GB ethernet networks. Supported in more than 3,000 Dante-enabled products from more than 500 manufacturers, Dante replaces point-to-point analog and digital connections with software-based routing, effortlessly sending AV channels anywhere on the network with perfect digital fidelity.
Powersoft Power Sharing allows customers to use the power of each amplifier channel asymmetrically. It is a standard feature of all Powersoft DSP and Dante native amplifiers and does not need to be activated or require any special firmware. With onboard Dante audio networking, installers have the flexibility to place Power Share amplifiers away from source locations, closer to loudspeakers, or wherever they are needed.
“We use Dante day in day out in our racks and using Dante with Powersoft amps provides the solution flexibility that we need,” added Bond.
At Matches, two Dante-enabled, 4-channel Powersoft Mezzo 604AD 600 watt amplifiers power the entire system. The system is controlled by a single 4.3-inch, wall-mounted Powersoft WM touch screen. The Mezzo amplifiers manage the audio throughout Matches, including in the corridors and washrooms. The system drives a mix of AUDAC loudspeakers, ATEO wall-mounted speakers, CIRA ceiling speakers, and BASO10 and NOBA8 subwoofers.
“I’m delighted with the AV system we have in Matches,” added Shephard. “The system is super user-friendly – we have a control panel behind the bar which any of our staff can log onto and be able to change the audio in a couple of clicks. Plus, the training [from MADE] took just half an hour because it’s so simple to use.”
“By using Powersoft’s Dynamic Music Distribution solution, we were able to keep our design simple all the way through, from designing the project to handing it over to the client,” explained Bond. “The client was then left with a powerful start-to-finish solution from a single industry-leading manufacturer, providing them with a reliable and intuitive audio system that delivers the quality, flexibility and scalability they needed.”
The MADE team was so impressed by the Matches system that the company is already specifying an almost identical system for several upcoming projects. “That’s off the back of how strongly it’s performed at Matches,” Bond continued. “It’s definitely become our go-to solution for hospitality projects – so much so that we even hold stock of it just to have it when we need it.”