SOUND DIVISION PROVIDE AQ CARBON FOOTPRINT
One of London's most authentically-designed bars has opened in the east wing of the prestigious Cumberland Hotel in London's West End.
Developed at a cost of £2.5m on the site of the former Callaghan's Irish Bar (which was closed three years ago), sound reinforcement in the industrially-themed Carbon is handled exclusively by Martin Audio AQ loudspeakers.
The enclosures were specified by The Sound Division Group, working alongside interior designer, Mark Bithrey of B3 Designers, who has immersed the 450-capacity venue in a world of concrete, brick, steel, mesh and leather (peppered with industrial artifacts and extremely rare champagnes) to achieve a low-key, sultry Shoreditch style vibe.
Having worked with the Sound Division Group on a previous bar project Bithrey again tasked the A/V specialists with creating the aural ambience in the four-zoned venue, which is divided between the main ground floor bar, lounge, the separate bookable 'Chain Room' and the suspended Mezzanine Bar upstairs.
Under the project management of Jon Carey, Sound Division proposed a highly specified DJ box, flown over the bar, with the signals fed to Martin Audio's AQ series architectural loudspeakers. A further Martin AQ8 is also provided as the DJ reference monitor.
Servicing the main bar are six AQ8 loudspeakers and a pair of AQ212 (2 x 12) subs, which are also flown equidistant, one at each end of the bar.
Four further AQ8's are evenly distributed across the Chain Lounge area, while upstairs, three Martin Audio AQ6's operate on a separate zone, among the vintage bottles of champagne (with a further three AQ6's covering the under-balcony) again as a seperate zone.
General manager, Eliza Sloane states that while the early evening operates against a backdrop of lounge music generated from an iPod, the programme then goes through a cycle of bar grooves, soulful lounge music and funky house until 1am. She says she is delighted with the performance of the Martin Audio speakers. 'They sound fantastic, so much so that we have increased the sound reinforcement under the mezzanine.'
An overhead projector is provided but rather than fire onto the drop down electric screen provided, Eliza prefers to use the giant 14-metre bar back wall as a backdrop for movies, among the graffiti.
The audio visual installation comfortably achieves its brief, according to Mark Bithrey. 'There are enough speakers around the space to keep the music levels relatively low, and since the venue was acoustically sensitive, Sound Division also needed to deal with the issues of containment.'
The Sound Division Group MD, David Graham, responded, 'We are aware that the Cumberland is Guoman's flagship hotel and we are delighted they have given such high priority to the music quality. The loudspeaker design and signal processing reflect a carefully-evolved solution, in a difficult venue, where the prevention of sound leakage was a major issue. Careful placement of the enclosures means that we are now able to underrun the system to provide a smooth, even coverage.'
As for Mark Bithrey, he has excelled in creating a giant theatre concealed behind the venue's huge metal door - from the spray-painted graffiti of the back bar to the fixed floor-to-ceiling steel chains which magnificently circumscribe the Chain Room.