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Kraftwerk Makes Meyer Sound Global Choice for World of Nightlife


"It was our first time working with Meyer Sound products. We chose their loudspeakers because of the outstanding sound quality. And their output proportional to their size is tremendous."

- Christian Hofer,
Kraftwerk technical manager

By day, it is the medieval charm of Graz's center, as exemplified by the landmark Uhrturm clock tower, that best characterizes the city as the cultural and industrial heart of Southern Austria. But, by night, a more contemporary landmark has been drawing the city's visitors and residents. Built for crowds of up to 2,500, the new World of Nightlife (WON) entertainment center at the Shopping Center Graz West has become Austria's biggest and hottest nightclub experience, a massive 6,000 square meter complex offering no less than a dozen distinct entertainment environments.

"WON surpasses all previous Austrian nightlife projects," says Manfred Meier, managing director of Kraftwerk Licht- und Tontechnik of Wels, Austria, which installed not only sound but also lighting and multimedia technology for the facility. The range of rooms handled by Kraftwerk includes a dance club, restaurant, café, karaoke bar, "disco-fitness and styling corner," X-bowling alley, "American table-dance" venue, "soul-black bar," cocktail bar, catwalk club, Western saloon, and casino. Including 550 spotlights, a wireless video broadcast network, 3,400 square-feet of video screens, and 26 plasma screens, the company was responsible for installing a total of some 50 tons of equipment linked by over 300,000 feet of cabling.

"We only had five weeks to install everything," recalls Kraftwerk technical manager Christian Hofer. "The two weeks before opening, we had to work day and night in two groups with a total of 20 technicians, engineers, and programmers." Altogether, he says, 7,000 working hours were put in on the project by Kraftwerk alone.

The audio goals for WON were ambitious. The rooms at WON are each different in size, layout, and character, as well as in the different types of program the speakers are called on to reproduce. Yet the sheer size of the project made it highly desirable that a consistent approach to system design and installation could be implemented throughout. Ideally, what was needed was a single loudspeaker supplier whose products could be easily configured into a variety of systems that would sound great across all the types of rooms and music that WON has to offer. In view of this, Hofer concluded that, while WON is designed to please a broad diversity of tastes, the fun in every room would be powered by Meyer Sound.

"It was our first time working with Meyer Sound products." Hofer says. "We chose their loudspeakers because of the outstanding sound quality. And their output proportional to their size is tremendous."

More than simply a separate sound reinforcement system for each room, the design called for an integrated approach allowing routing of uncompressed digital audio via CobraNet over fast Ethernet, thereby linking the various rooms with a central audio network. The network is also set up to send a live broadcast feed from several of WON's rooms to selected radio stations in Austria.

The largest of the sound systems is in the Dance Club, which features DJ music as well as feeds from the WON center network. The room is configured as one stereo zone for the dance floor and five different background zones. Each zone's volume can be adjusted via a Crestron X-Panel Touch interface.

On the dance floor, sound is provided by eight Meyer Sound UPA-2P compact narrow coverage loudspeakers and four 700-HP ultrahigh-power subwoofers. "The UPA-2Ps are in pairs," Hofer says, "clustered and hung approximately 1.5 meters outside and 4 meters above each corner of the dance floor. The 700-HPs are all placed side-by-side in a single block located under the stage in front of the DJ."

"The sound quality in the dance club is very nice," Hofer continues. "The mids and highs from the UPA-2Ps are very transparent, and the cabinets have more than enough power reserve. Plus, the bass of the four 700-HPs is enormous."

Off the dance floor, the rest of the room is handled by eight UPA-1P compact wide coverage loudspeakers. "Six UPA-1Ps provide very nice coverage for all of the background and bar areas located around the dance floor," Hofer says. "And two more are used to cover the Heineken lounges located on two platforms to the left and right of the DJ booth."

The DJ mixer in the room is a HI-LEVEL PM10000, the main output of which is made available to the WON central audio network. Audio matrix mixing, equalization, delaying, grouping, and SPL limiting is handled by a 6in/12out Biamp Systems AudiaFLEX CN DSP platform.

Perhaps the most challenging of WON's various environments was the Catwalk Room, home to both DJ-based and live entertainment. "The Catwalk Room was very hard to set up," Hofer says, "because of the complex room geometry, a lot of lightweight walls, and very different room performance depending on how full it is with guests. Particularly difficult was the fact that WON wanted to be able to present live music on the center stage behind the catwalk and also have a DJ either on a mobile platform at center stage or in a fixed booth in front of the catwalk."

The room is made up of one main stereo zone around the catwalk bar and two background zones. Once again, each zone's volume is adjustable, and the CobraNet network is used for broadcasting the main outs from the MIDAS Venice 240 Mixer to the WON center audio network. It's possible, as well, to feed any other audio signal from the network back into the Catwalk system. And an AudiaFLEX system, this time an 8in/8out version, is also used for DSP.

For live music, Kraftwerk chose four UPA-2Ps in front of the stage, clustered in left and right pairs, and a 650-P high-power subwoofer on the floor on each side. "After one week of operation," Hofer says, "we added two UPA-1Ps positioned in the middle of the catwalk to provide more SPL in case of live DJ events. So now everything has ended up quite well." For the background areas, Kraftwerk went with three UPM-1Ps. "They provide perfect coverage," Hofer says.

A similar zone configuration was used in the Western Saloon, with one stereo zone for the dance floor and two background zones. The dance floor is covered by four UPJ-1P compact VariO loudspeakers, each located in a corner above the dance floor, and two USW-1P compact subwoofers packed together in a bar platform right next to the dance floor. A UPM-1P ultra-compact wide coverage loudspeaker covers the balcony above the DJ, while a dozen MM-4 miniature wide-range loudspeakers handle background areas. Equipped with a HI-LEVEL PM6000 Mixer, the room also has an AudioFLEX DSP setup and CobraNet connections to and from the central facility network.

"The sound in this room is my absolute favorite," Hofer says. "There was very little work to adjust and tune the system; we just set everything up, made very small corrections to the mid-range of the UPJ-1P, and added a little delay for the background MM-4 systems and the UPM-1P."

As for WON's remaining rooms, Kraftwerk was able to take advantage of Meyer Sound's broad product line to tailor each room's system to the particular needs of its setting, while maintaining consistently high quality throughout. All told, these rooms employ an additional thirty-six MM-4 units, ten UPJ-1P cabinets, and six UPM-1P cabinets, as well as nine UMS-1P ultra-compact subwoofers, two USW-1P compact subwoofers, one 650-P, and one M1D-Sub ultra-compact subwoofer. All of these models, except the MM-4, are self-powered, greatly simplifying the hookup burden as the company's crew rushed to finish installation by opening day.

Hofer says in summary, "We are very enthusiastic about the sound we've been able to create in what is now Austria's biggest entertainment center. We had some rooms where we didn´t need a lot of system tuning. They were just 'plug-and-play,' especially for the MM-4 systems in combination with the UMS-1P subwoofer. Some other rooms needed time to tune them. But all the rooms sound great!"

November, 2004












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