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Martin Audio Crank(s) It Up

Bournemouth, England–When Future 3000 plc purchased Censo, Candu Leisure‘s flagship Bournemouth venue, they wanted to establish the most powerful dance system on the south coast.

Both the operating company and audio contractors Complete Production Solutions Group (CPS) have a long history of working with proprietary Martin Audio dance systems, and as the new venue named Crank was taking shape, Future 3000 Managing Director Richard Carr wanted to employ the Martin Audio principle again to create the ultimate clubbing experience.

With record producer and remixer Armand van Helden booked for the opening night, Martin Audio‘s national sales manager Simon Bull proposed a custom stack system, with raw aggression as its signature. CPS director Richard Colegate had already seen how effectively a perimeter of six carefully optimized stacks had transformed the Ministry of Sound‘s dance experience and jumped at the opportunity to apply a similar treatment to the 1,100-capacity Bournemouth club, which now operates on three levels.

The solution proposed by Bull and Martin Audio systems support engineer Peter Child, was for four ground stacks, one in each corner, and like the Ministry, it would use elements of Martin Audio‘s Stadium series. Following discussions with CPS and interior designer Christine Johnson from Wicked Designs, Martin Audio produced these finished in custom white cabinets with silver grilles and silver horns.

A pair of S218 (twin 18in subs) support an AS118 folded horn, which handles the low-mids, while an AM906 mid-high sits at the top, fitted with a special Powerdrive bracket to steer the beam down towards the dance floor, thereby avoiding primary and secondary reflections.

Aside from audio optimization, the physical dimensions of the three-tiered stack were crucial, with each measuring 2571mm high (offering just 60mm clearance to the ceiling).

The final touch is a special bolt-on section at the rear of the S218‘s. This not only enables them to sit flush with the cabinets perched on top for the purposes of stacking alignment, but it also provides a ready cable management system and ensures that no Speakon cables are hanging out of the back, in proximity of the dance crowd.

“The result is a system that produces phenomenal SPL‘s even when substantially backed off,” says Colegate. “We have set it at a comfortable level but the rig is ‘effortlessly loud‘ in that as the volume increases it still sounds like a huge hi-fi system.”

All the inputs are fed into a Yamaha DME 64 Digital Mix Engine, which handles the routing, the EQ and time alignment, with an ICP1 intelligent remote control situated behind the main bar.

The primary system is run four-way active–powered by Martin Audio amps including 3 x MA9.6K, 1 x MA1.6s and 1 x MA1.3s. The DJ monitors are powered by MA1.6s and the AQ‘s are fed by a combination of MA1.3s, MA1400 and MA900.

A large number of Martin Audio Blackline and AQ series speakers are off-dance floor at balcony and basement levels receiving the source signals (although the basement operates its own stand-alone system, and its own distinct night).

Since the balcony level also acts as a viewing gallery, CPS has been careful to ensure that all spectators would receive evenly distributed stereo imaging. This is created by four Blackline F12‘s, positioned at the corners of the void on the upper floor level, firing up at the first floor balcony. Precisely time-aligned with the main PA, they freshen up the spill from the stacks and provide clear, intelligible information to anyone looking down onto the dance floor.

“Everything upstairs is time-aligned back to the dance stacks,” says Richard Colegate. “Wherever you stand you have stereo signal coming straight at you.”

At one end a pair of F15‘s and ground-stacked S218 subs are positioned by the bar, reinforced by AQ6‘s (in the booths), as well as AQ8‘s and F12‘s, and at the far end of the gallery the retained VIP ‘box‘ is serviced by a pair of AQ12‘s and an AQ210 ultra-compact sub, built into the booth seating to create (literally) some low-end rumble.

The sound upstairs is powered by a combination of MA1400 and MA900 amplifiers.

CPS‘ accomplishments are put into perspective by the fact that they supplied, installed and tuned the entire system–including fitting out two DJ booths and providing a laser and LED parcans to complement the existing lighting–in just six weeks during which the club only ceased operation for 11 days.

The Ł700,000 conversion has seen the removal of the old Moroccan-themed white linen tented area upstairs, and digging out the basement to create a new dance tier.

CPS has equipped the basement, which is highlighted by an LED-lit bar front, with a combination of Blackline F15/WS218X subs (as the primary dance floor source), F10‘s (for DJ monitoring) and F8‘s (pointing towards the booths)–once again making mischief by equipping the three booths down the right flank with AQ210 subs, built into the seating carcass.

Says Simon White: “This solution works brilliantly with the AQ210 subs which produce a phenomenal amount of energy, recessed under the booth seating, working in combination with the F8‘s.”

In fact there has been a fair degree of custom mixing and matching colors to suit design themes (the AQ boxes in the more colorful environment downstairs appearing in Blackline black, while some of the F15‘s are finished in the factory-fit grey of the AQ series).

In the main DJ booth are four CDJ 1000‘s and two Technics SL1210 Mk5 decks with Pioneer DJM 800 and EFX 1000 plus a Rane Serato Scratch Live–all fed straight into the DME. The downstairs spec includes an Allen & Heath Xone:92 mixer.

Summing up, Richard Colegate says, “We have been working with Future 3000 for several years, and while some of the clubs we took over have got Martin Audio systems in them this is the first project we have worked on direct with Martin Audio–and Simon Bull and Peter Child were fantastic.”

But the final word comes from Jim Beedham who summed up the entire experience, stating: “These Martin Audio dance stacks exceed our expectation–both sonically and visually; there is nothing like it on the south coast.”

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