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AV Gets the Party Started at Philly Nightclub

When Mark Marek set out to launch a new nightclub in downtown Philadelphia, he envisioned a space unlike anything the city had ever seen?something reminiscent of flashy Miami Beach or infamous Las Vegas hot spots.

CHALLENGE: Create a flexible, multizoned AV system that can be reconfigured on the fly while providing the highest quality audio available on the club scene.

SOLUTION: Develop a customized audio system, incorporating analog and digital technology, that preserves sound clarity while allowing the owner to separate audio, video, and lighting control into multiple zones.

When Mark Marek set out to launch a new nightclub in downtown Philadelphia, he envisioned a space unlike anything the city had ever seen–something reminiscent of flashy Miami Beach or infamous Las Vegas hot spots.

Acoustic-isolating wall partitions can be moved to create up to15 private areas, each which can access any of several audio and video feeds.

Acoustic-isolating wall partitions can be moved to create up to15 private areas, each which can access any of several audio and video feeds.

Credit: Audio Video Systems Group

Picturing a venue that featured multizoned audio, video, and lighting systems, Marek wanted a flexible space that could function as several individual zones or one large party and performance area–all with the highest degree of audio quality. After pairing up with Adam Freemer, systems engineer for Audio Video Systems Group (AVSG) in Broomall, Pa., Marek's sophisticated vision became a reality in the new G Lounge.

An upscale club and restaurant that covers 10,000 square feet and holds up to 400 people, G Lounge is quickly establishing a reputation as one of the city's most popular performance venues–resident and celebrity DJs from around the world spin an eclectic mix of music–the club features several distinct rooms and settings.

"Our ultimate objective was to create a flexible space that could be manipulated to create a multitude of scenarios," says Freemer. "We can create up to 15 individual zones, each of which can access any of several audio and video feeds."

Thanks to movable, acoustic-isolating wall partitions, the space can be physically split into different configurations depending on the crowd that night. "If people want to party like rock stars in one room, we can give them club volume levels," Marek says. "In another part of the venue, if people want to have conversation, we can take things down to accommodate that mood."

The challenge to achieving such flexibility, says Freemer, was trying to match different configuration scenarios with audio quality the owner demanded. The answer came in a customized approach.

"Typically, when a customer is looking for hi-fi-quality sound, I'll go in an analog [direction] as opposed to digital audio direction, but the owner's vision of a venue with complex zoning, typically accomplished through digital processing and switching, led me to a hybrid solution," Freemer explains. "There's an analog DJ crossover for the main dance area system, with class AB/MOSFET hybrid amplification powering the speakers, which is rare in these times of digital signal processing and Class D digital amplification. Not many people look to traditional technology anymore, but it worked in this case."

According to Freemer, thanks to a realistic AV budget, he was able to design the space to meet or exceed the customer's expectations on all fronts. Although video was a critical part of the installation, the level of audio complexity took precedence when it came to design considerations.

Freemer selected Community Professional's iBOX Series for G's main dance area. Four flown iHP-1596 15-inch cabinets were installed along with four custom-built 18-inch horn-loaded subwoofers from Systems by Shorty (SBS) and two EAW DCT-1 tweeter arrays custom modified by Freemer himself. Freemer used VERIS 8 wall-mounted 8-inch systems and VERIS 12-96 12-inch two-way boxes in areas surrounding the main dance floor and in satellite areas and secondary zones. He paid particular attention to speaker placement in the areas surrounding the bar to ensure bartenders would be able to hear patrons, even when the sound system was at full volume.

Work is a bit easier for celebrity and house DJs at G Lounge, they can monitor the sound via the VERIS loudspeakers and subwoofers in the DJ booths, and a Shure handheld wireless mic system lets them connect with the crowd

Work is a bit easier for celebrity and house DJs at G Lounge, they can monitor the sound via the VERIS loudspeakers and subwoofers in the DJ booths, and a Shure handheld wireless mic system lets them connect with the crowd

Credit: Audio Video Systems Group

For DJ monitoring purposes, AVSG placed two VERIS 12-96 cabinets and one VERIS 212S dual 12-inch subwoofer in each of the two DJ booths. Shure ULX Series handheld wireless microphone systems give flexibility for musicians to perform throughout the club. Thrive amplifiers power the dance floor areas, while Crown CTs-series amplifiers drive other parts of the space.

AVSG installed two more VERIS 8 loudspeakers and two Community SBS12 subs in a private room. To choose the audio source for any of the club's various zones, the sound system features 15 corresponding Rane SR4 remote-source and volume-selector controls, which enable the staff to combine separate zones into one. By pushing a knob, operators can select the source that's going to go to that particular zone. When the knob is released, volume control for that zone is at their fingertips.

"We basically built a more powerful system than we needed," says Marek. "By reducing the level of output required to put sound in the venue, it gives you much higher fidelity and brings all of the frequencies right into their comfort zone–all without having to worry about blowing out your system."

Visually Stimulating

That's not to say the space is without visual stimulation. Flat-panel displays from LG, ranging in size from 32 to 65 inches, can also be controlled separately via an 8x8 Extron matrix switcher.

"I put an Extron DVS-304 scaler in for each display so signals from the variety of sources get scaled properly for each individual destination display before being sent out over Cat-5," says Freemer. "This simplified the installation because there's only one Cat-5 cable run to each TV."

G's sleek interior also comes alive with "electric wallpaper," a 55-foot-wide videowall composed of several hundred 5-inch LED panels. Although his company didn't install this element, Freemer says the wall is definitely something to see.

"Each segment gets connected by a network, and we hooked in the audio feed," he says. "For the music to work with the LED wall, there's a feed from the DSP that goes to the videowall, allowing it to pulse to the music. Think of it like an 80-pixel-high by 400-pixel-long movie screen. There's not a lot of resolution to it because the pixels are so big, but it's running movies or color washes constantly."

The videowall, combined with the pristine audio quality, keep patrons coming back. This isn't your typical club where you leave with a headache because the music it too loud or distorted, says Marek–or where the system is not properly built or calibrated.

"I can use the power of the sound system to show guests that we are a legitimate nightlife venue, but at the same time we're giving them this incredible level of clarity they can't get anywhere else," he says. "What's more, we haven't bought any equipment for the entire year we've been in business–not one amp, not one woofer. The clarity and reliability is just amazing day in and day out."

Ellen Parson is a freelance writer based in Lee's Summit, Mo.



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