Sala Apolo is one of Barcelona’s most emblematic venues, a vibrantly evolving world of live performance, art and entertainment. More than seventy five years since it first opened as a dance hall, it has adapted to the city and its times, to become a noted reference hub for music of all kinds. A concert and nightclub hotspot, Sala Apolo has earned itself the title: ‘club of clubs’, and with that, a following that extends throughout Barcelona and beyond.
As for many venues, quality of sound here is considered fundamental. For Sala it’s not just a question of listening quality but maximising its programming potential, to be as prepared as possible for all events. Now, with a Soundscape ready KSL line array system newly installed using d&b’s latest commercial tool – Subscription-Series – Sala Apolo has confidently put itself ahead of the game.
In a nutshell, Subscription-Series gives venues access to the complete d&b product range via a monthly fee. The agreement includes the design and installation of a tailored audio solution, plus a maintenance contract for servicing, and remote monitoring of the system; a computer in touch with Sala Apolo’s electronics 24/7 means if anything goes wrong, a responsible d&b person is alerted to take care of things.
With monthly payments easing the way, Sala Apolo’s major renovation project got started without the usual pressure of investment. Then, as global events unfolded, the venue’s vision went on hold. “The agreement was originally supposed to be closed during March 2020,” says Director, Alberto Guijarro, “but had to be postponed due to the health crisis.” Undeterred, Guijarro placed his bets, trusting his vision and the team at d&b Iberia. “Ultimately, none of this would have happened without full collaboration and trust on both sides.”
Eventually, the project started up again. “The first d&b equipment that we put into Apolo was in our second room, explains Guijarro, “and the improvement in quality was quickly noticed. People said it was the best sounding room in Spain. We wanted to elevate our big room to the same level.”
With KSL installed the sound is now both remarkably clear and powerful, without the one affecting the other. The system’s cardioid design and constant directivity control across the entire frequency range have solved the venue’s two key issues: controlling the reverberant field, and reducing the sonic impact on the neighbourhood.
The line arrays comprise KSL8, with KSL12s at the bottom to cover the first rows – eliminating the need for frontfills. KSL-SUBs and SL-SUBs ensure the lowest frequencies go exactly where they’re wanted, while a selection of monitors add extra onstage comfort for performers.
Belgian group, Balthazar were the first to put the system through its paces. “Balthazar’s technician was delighted when he learned that he was going to have d&b,” recalls Apolo’s Technical Director, Jordi Martin, “and after, how much he enjoyed the great technical advancement of the installation.”
But the benefits don’t end with KSL. Guijarro’s vision for the venue included being the first Soundscape-ready room in Spain. “With object based mixing and immersive sound on the table, Apolo will be at the cutting edge, technically and creatively,” says Guijarro. “Soundscape is a very important venture for our future. Not just within our city, but at a national level.”
Adding Soundscape to their wish list was made easy with Subscription-Series. Alongside a monthly fee, venues have the option to add additional components as and when they need to, only paying for them when they’re actually put to use. This is the case in Sala Apolo’s big room; a Soundscape ‘pre-installation’ now exists, including all the necessary wiring and switches to incorporate extra boxes, and Soundscape’s central hardware, the DS100 Signal Matrix.
In keeping with its reputation, Sala Apolo’s audio renovation has left it ready for anything: high performance, rider-friendly sound and all the creative and technical manoeuvring you can imagine – in a physically and technologically long lasting package. “Add to that, our room technicians have confirmed that d&b is one of the best performance brands,” says Apolo’s Technical Director, Jordi Martin, “standing out for unique sound, and for meeting the highest quality expectations in the world.”
Seventy five years later and Sala Apolo is at the threshold of another history-defining moment, during what is arguably one of the most uncertain times for live performance venues globally. “The hardest thing has been doing this right after the pandemic,“ reflects Guijarro. “It required a leap of faith on the part of the company. However, the collaboration with d&b has been very easy; they met deadlines perfectly, and ultimately the Subscription-Series has made everything possible. Without that solution we simply wouldn’t have been able to achieve all this at this time.”