d&b Solution for Industrial-Sized Printworks Club.

© Luke Dyson 1/2
© Luke Dyson 2/2

London’s sprawling Printworks live music and nightlife venue is changing the face of the city’s entertainment scene. Once home to one of Europe’s largest printing presses, it is now a massive clubbing and events hub, mixing industrial aesthetics with world-class lighting and sound technology. Transforming the vast expanses of concrete and metal into a sonically successful space presented some serious challenges, leading dbnAudile to a d&b audiotechnik solution.

Our brief was clear: to supply nothing short of a world-class sound system.Rob Ashworth, dbnAudile

The Printworks’ complex has been welcomed as a much-needed cultural and events space for London, echoing the raw, brutalist splendour of Berlin’s Berghain or Gashouder Amsterdam. Six separate rooms are situated within the 119,200sq. ft Surrey Quays monster – a network of minimalist shells.

Printworks is one of the most recent projects realised by Venue Lab, a company which re-activates disused buildings for a new generation. It is managed by Broadwick Live.

At Printworks’ core is the 3000-capacity ‘Live’ room – a rugged and unconventional enclosed space measuring 70x13 metres, with a five-storey-high ceiling. On one side of the room, an unforgiving and imposing cliff-face brick wall looms. It is one of the most corridor-like dancefloors in the capital.

Manchester sound and lighting outfit dbnAudile was commissioned to specify and deliver a speaker solution which would not only counter the kooky space but harness its sonic potential.

“Our brief was clear: to supply nothing short of a world-class sound system,” says dbnAudile’s Rob Ashworth. “In this tough acoustic environment, pattern control was the key. We initially designed how we could hang the stacks of d&b speakers, and then used ArrayCalc as an invaluable tool to fine-tune our plans.

“The class-leading directivity control of d&b systems made them ideal for Printworks. We obviously had to be very careful about reflections in the Live room and ensure that the direct-to-reverberant sound ratio was kept high for every audience member.”

© Ph. C. Faruolo 1/2
© Ph. C. Faruolo 2/2

The solution to this was eight relatively-small hangs of d&b J-Series and V-Series tops, configured as mains and three delay lines, and flown at relatively low level. These consisted of twenty four d&b J8/J12; twenty six d&b V8/V12; and twelve d&b J-SUB. The d&b D12 is on amplification duties for the J-Series; a D80 serves the V-Series and J-INFRA.

“The response to the systems has been extremely gratifying,” Ashworth continues. “With Live being a new space, there was concern that the acoustic environment would lead to poor sound, but everyone’s been blown away with the results we’ve achieved.”

Adjacent to the Live space is the ‘Electronic’ room, which presents more challenges. It’s slightly longer than Live, with first-floor balconies down the full length of both sides. The distance between these balconies is just five metres, and approximately sixty percent of the audience area is underneath them. This eliminates the possibility of a flown system, so ground-stacking is the only feasible option.

As with Live, the extreme length of the room demanded a distributed system to ensure consistent high-quality coverage.

“The solution was twelve stacks of J-Series and V-Series tops and subs, configured as mains and five delay lines,”

“The cardioid sub technology developed by d&b is the key to this – conventional omnidirectional subs in this configuration gave compromised low-frequency coverage with the cancellation that was going on between stacks, but this system gives us exceptional consistency of frequency response – as well as level – across the whole space.”

The d&b system is now regularly pumping out spins by global DJs and acts including Deadmau5, Armand Van Helden and Chase and Status.

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