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Sound Advice: Club Wars Heat Up

Oct 1, 2008 12:00 PM, By Dan Daley

Nightclubs battle for supremacy by using sheer amplified power.


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Integrator BML-Blackbird not only provides the AV/lighting system for New York’s 
Espace, it is also a business partner.

Integrator BML-Blackbird not only provides the AV/lighting system for New York’s Espace, it is also a business partner.

WHEN GOOD ROOMS GO BAD

John Lyons, owner of John Lyons Systems in Boston, is unique in that he is also a principal in the Lyons Group, which owns and operates 35 clubs in the United States. But experience doing systems for venues such as the first six House of Blues clubs, Jet and Tao in Las Vegas, and The Abbey and Social Hollywood in Los Angeles, has given Lyons a good eye for what a club needs. When his company acquired The Palace, a former-vaudeville-house-turned-disco that he would rebrand as Avalon Hollywood, the previous owner had already installed a new live sound system in an unsuccessful bid to rehabilitate the venue's reputation for lo-fi live sound. “It turns out that the sound system was fine — it was the room that was the problem,” Lyons says, noting that the reverberance that made it a good vaudeville hall worked against it for amplified sound. He applied 3in. of foam soundproofing to all exposed surfaces, and that provided the perfect bed for both of the sound systems installed there. “That's another trick — a sound system that's optimized for live music is not going to work well for dance music and vice versa,” he says.

In this case, the live sound system is composed of an EAW KF760 line array powered by Crest Audio and Crown amplifiers. It is processed via a Soundweb London and mixed through a pair of Midas Heritage 3000 consoles. The dance music system is an EAW Avalon system that Lyons developed with EAW for his first Avalon club in Boston. “We needed two systems because dance and live music have very different requirements,” he says. “Live music needs accurate reproduction of what the musicians are playing on stage. Dance music, on the other hand, isn't about accuracy; rather, it needs to have certain parts of the frequency band exaggerated, usually in the low and low-mid ranges.”

Thus, though both systems use the same kind of amplifiers and processing, the biggest differentiation is in the low-frequency components. The live system includes 10 EAW SB850 dual-18in. radiating subs, housed in Martin Audio boxes, that have even coverage throughout the LF spectrum. The dance system uses the EAW Avalon DCS2 horn-loaded subs that are honked between 40Hz and 60Hz. The low-mid range is boosted by the use of EAW DC1 boxes that have a 4:1 low-mid/high component ratio: four 15in. woofers for each midrange cone and HF compression driver. “This combination boosts the sound where dancers want to hear it, so they don't have to have the volume of the entire system and frequency spectrum increased,” Lyons says.

20/20 FOR 40/40

Vito Randazzo is proud of the system that his company, JVN Systems, designed and installed for rapper and urban entrepreneur Jay-Z's 40/40 Club in Las Vegas. The self-powered Meyer Sound system uses nine curvilinear Meyer M'elodie loudspeakers in the main dance room with processing by Meyer's Galileo loudspeaker-management system and power for the private room's loudspeakers from Lab.gruppen C20:8X 8-channel amplifiers. A system of this magnitude underscores the fact that the war isn't just between competing clubs, but between the sound systems and their users as well.

The installation of the system was concurrent with the construction of the club late last year at the Palazzo hotel — the 50-story, $1.9-billion tower and casino attached to the Venetian hotel. Combined with the 4,050-room Venetian, the Palazzo's 3,068 rooms make the combined resort the largest in the world under one roof. Installing a sound system while walls are still going up and under a tight deadline presents its own challenges, and it meant that the final ring-out of the system could not be done until construction was finished, just before the club's Dec. 30, 2007, opening party.



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