New Scene in audio

A £200,000 conversion of the upstairs bar in Halstead, North Essex - has presented owners Paul Maybank and John Craig with a self-contained 250-capacity nightclub called The Scene.

Previously used as an overspill balcony bar after the owners had transformed the former Cooperative Society building five and a half years ago, Paul Maybank divulged his plans to Andrew Baldwin from locally-based specialists, Event Production Sound & Light, who had carried out regular maintenance work during the venue's five year history.

"He contacted us six months before the conversion became public knowledge, as a result of which we arranged a number of sound and lighting demonstrations," said Baldwin. Among these was the Martin Audio Blackline range and as a result, four Blackline F12's, with dedicated flying yokes, form the pivotal dancefloor sound, angled at 45° over the main floor, while four Blackline S15 subs are floor mounted behind purpose enclosures. Providing infill and peripheral sound (including the Chillout area) are eight Blackline F8's with dedicated Martin Audio flying kit, which Baldwin commends for sheer simplicity of use.

"You can't fault the sound quality of Blackline, while the service we get from Martin Audio is great," says Baldwin. "We had to roll the subs out slightly but for the most part the system is run pretty flat, with hardly any time delay. Although the owners wanted the system concealed high up in the ceiling, the sound is nevertheless contained very tightly over the main floor. Despite this being a long rectangular room there are no dead spots whatsoever."

The system operates under Proel Alto Maxi Drive 3.4 system management, and EPSL will use the system's remote diagnostic capabilities for permanent line monitoring. "We spent £450,000 when we first converted the building," Baldwin reflects, "but we're equally delighted with the money we've spent this time around." For playback, Baldwin had no hesitation in specifying a pair of DN-S3000 tabletop CD players. "When it comes to CD/MP3 players Denon is our preferred brand," he states. In fact Denon is one of the lead brands, in a highly-specified booth which has already been remarked upon by guest DJ's (including Ministry of Sound) visiting the club in North Essex.

The key features of the multi-mode DN-S3000 are the motor-driven active 19cm platter - with a jog wheel that emulates the feel of an analogue turntable - and advanced MP3 facilities, allowing scratch and search of both CD and MP3 files.

Baldwin explained: "The main reasons we went for the DN-S3000 are; its hands-on, MP3-compatible and robust - and you can scratch with this, just the same as with vinyl. I'm not keen on the rack-mount equipment - especially when a DJ is using vinyl and CD - as this can result in a lot of snapped drawers. But DJ's who have come in have described the 3000's as 'awesome'."

For the lighting Baldwin reported that: "Paul wanted a colour-changing environment; we advised on what our preferences would be and then he left it very much to us." Faced with a wide choice of LED products, Baldwin recommended Lighting Effects Distribution and he praised L.E.D's Darren Jackson for his outstanding level of product support, explaining: "He was on hand for us to consult with throughout the project."

Thus the lighting consisted mainly of MR16's and RGB LED Strips, punctuated by Geni dancefloor scanner effects. "Paul not only wanted the venue to colour-change but also the big sash windows, which are presently boarded in, to be lit with LED battens," Baldwin continued, although in the event the owners were unable to obtain planning permission.

Away from the dancefloor, the toughened etched glass bar fronts (and tops) are illuminated by a combination of fully-programmable LED Strip RGB colour-changing strips, most of them cut to 1200mm lengths, and the shorter lengths to 600mm and 300mm. Some 3W MR16 Lighting Effects Distribution spots wash onto the back bar mirrors, while programmed into the Martin Light Jockey are a series of subtle and different levels of brightness and chase speeds.

To the sides, four decorative glass-block pillars break the monotony of the wall, illuminated with 6W Solar MR16's, while the glass blocks in front of the DJ booth bask in a glow created by two further 1200 RGB LED Strips. Facing the sash windows in the rectilinear room is a Chill-Out area, which is highlighted by further LED Strips, as are the glass blocks in front of the DJ booth. The main dancefloor rig comprises four each of the Geni OBY3, Geni Burst BR2X and Geni Mojo Spinmaster 1, brought to life with the aid of a pair of Antari X310 Fazers. "

Craig and Maybank, surveying their new nightclub - and the queues of people snaking back along Halstead's Trinity Street to gain admission - are delighted at their decision to carry out this refurbishment.


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