Booom: Shake the room27 May 2014
For many years, Pioneer has retained a major presence in the world of club equipment, particular in the realm of mixers and CD players adapted for DJ use (the seminal CDJ range specifically). The company moved into the club loudspeaker market last year with the launch of the GS-WAVE stack and the XY series, developed in association with Gary Stewart Audio.
Something of a legend in the field of nightclub speaker design and manufacture, designing installations for famous venues such as NYC’s Paradise Garage, Stewart tragically died of cancer midway through the Pioneer project. But his widow was keen to see the work continue as a legacy to him. And after Pioneer’s Alex Barrand demonstrated the new speakers to Giuseppe Cipriani, who was looking to open a club in Ibiza for the summer 2013 season, he soon had an order for the first major installation. Boom – and the Booom! club was born.
An experienced sound engineer, Barrand’s credentials include helping to design the Martin Audio installation at London’s Ministry of Sound. His role at Pioneer – professional audio manager – encompasses sales, product development, system design, tuning and even programming.
The heart of the showcase installation in Booom (dropping the ‘!’ for tidiness here) is the four GS-WAVE speaker stacks positioned at the corners of the dancefloor. Three metres high, each stack comprises a WAV-SUB multi-fold hyperbolic horn subwoofer with two 18” rear-loaded drivers, with a large horn extension; two high-power WAV-LOW speakers for the low to mid range; and on top, the WAV-LENS, loaded with two coaxial compression drivers and fitted with a Pioneer Acoustic Lens (a set of downward-angled slats) for 110º horizontal dispersion. Additional top-end coverage is provided by WAV-TWPOD omnidirectional tweeter arrays suspended from the ceiling.
Developed alongside the GS-WAVE is the XY series, which consists of an 8” and a 12” full-range enclosure, and an 18” and a dual-15” sub. These have been deployed in the various zones throughout the club, such as VIP areas, paid seating and the space behind the DJ console, which is generally reserved for the DJ’s friends. Barrand has designed the system to produce even coverage in each of these areas, without any sonic ‘hot spots’. By time-aligning the system, he has also ensured that there is sonic cohesion as you move through the club.
Both speaker ranges were developed in conjunction with Powersoft. While Pioneer has its own range of consumer amplifiers, for the professional range it wanted to work with one of the big names in amplification. Powersoft proved to be an excellent fit: partnering with Pioneer suited the Italian company’s wish to move more into the installation market, says Barrand, and the amplifier maker gave quick, detailed feedback following their meetings. Barrand observes: “I’ve used Powersoft before, prior to working for Pioneer, and I’ve always been very pleased with the results – power handling, the small physical size, and the software – it’s great to have that inbuilt DSP.”
He continues: “When we were designing the speakers, we wanted to build them from the ground up with an amplifier that we can recommend. You can use any amplifier, but it’s better to match the performance of the amplifier to the speaker. It enables you to have consistency in your design.”
While Barrand wanted VIP visitors to be able to adjust the levels in their areas, he felt that a volume control button would not be robust enough. Instead, they pass a request to club staff, who use a graphical interface (designed by Barrand for the Soundweb London BLU units that control the system) to make the adjustment. The interface can also be used to adjust the EQ – usually to make the dancefloor less ‘boomy’ at the start of the night when fewer people are present.
The installation was carried out by local firm The Shop Ibiza, run by Simeon Friend. “They really enjoyed working directly with Pioneer – this was a whole new business for them,” says Barrand. “Simeon’s gained a lot of exposure from the project – and we’re planning another installation with them.”
Barrand remarks that the Booom showcase is already generating leads: one club in mainland Europe is looking to buy six stacks. That’s an awful lot of power. “I almost tried to talk them out of it,” he jokes. “Six? Are you sure you want six?”
Your correspondent was lucky enough to have a full early evening walk-through tour and demo with Barrand at Booom in late March. Returning to the club after midnight (nothing opens till the small hours in Ibiza) there was a chance to hear the system in full flow. The sound was just as impressive as during the demo, and the laptop was made available for adjusting the levels in the VIP area. Any attempt to do the same for other parts of the club was firmly resisted, it can be reported, though the devilish (and wholly unprofessional) temptation was there…