Originally conceived as a social space for Brixton, Upstairs at The Department Store was initially opened to friends, family and the local community, and as popularity rapidly grew, Upstairs Brixton launched as a laid back rooftop members’ club in November 2018.
Audio Visual Integrator: Flux London
Brief: Upstairs Brixton regularly hosts member events such as live performances and DJ weekends, comedy, gin and whiskey tasting, launch parties and orchestral recitals – all requiring high quality sound reinforcement in varying degrees, whilst remaining aesthetically pleasing.
Flux London Technology Director Richard Chaffey on audio challenges: “The bar and restaurant occupy essentially the same space, but the objective was to treat them as quite separate audio areas, each with their own independent sound level so that the restaurant would generally be quieter than the bar. As befitting a multi-use venue, audio levels change throughout the day, taking in lunch service, after-work drinks, and into the evening’s eating and drinking, and when club DJs are invited to play in the bar SPLs increase significantly at weekends and into the early hours of the morning – and that required a system capable of transitioning from background sound to full-on banging beats, and all managed from a simple app-based control system.”
When the previous audio system was deemed to be unserviceable, with no potential left for expansion, the owners turned to integrated specialists Flux London for a solution that would totally modernise the venue, and give them a flexible configuration that would allow several different sources to be routed into combinations of zones throughout the venue depending on the event taking place.
In order to identify the optimum speaker positions and accurately predict coverage, 2B Heard Director Dave Wooster provided an EASE design which allowed Chaffey and the installation team to place speakers in key areas to even out the sound field, and provide more audio separation between the bar and restaurant zones.
Phase One of the installation involved replacing the speakers first to minimise downtime for the client. In the main bar four Python-KP102 I column arrays replaced the original speakers, the one-metre columns with their 12 closely-spaced drivers providing focused long throw coverage of the bar area. These are supplemented by a Thunder-KMT18P high power passive 18-inch sub and a Rumble-KU212 slim profile dual 12-inch line array sub, adding up to give plenty of low-end punch when needed.
Meanwhile, providing coverage of the restaurant and lounging area, six Python-KP521 variable beam line arrays together with two Rumble-KU212 dual 12-inch subs deliver an altogether more muted ambience, but are still able to effortlessly crank up the volume to party levels.
Unusually for an entertainment venue, all the K-array columns are constructed from stainless steel housings, which not only gives them a modernistic, high tech look, they are also sure to endure. In the newly equipped rack are a Kommander KA84 4 x 2000 watt DSP amplifier and two KA24 4 x 300 watt DSP amplifiers powering the entire speaker system.
“Anyone who comes in here having heard the old audio system can clearly hear the significant improvements the new K-array system has provided. 2B Heard has provided us with easy-to-use room audio equalization, and this allowed each zone to be individually EQ’d; so making the sound clear and comfortable throughout. As the audio demands increase through the day and into the evening, the K-array system delivers faithful audio reproduction to everyone in the room.”
Richard Chaffey, Flux London, Technology Director.
“Sound in any hospitality environment provides atmosphere – it’s just essential. Although we don’t often have music at a volume that would be deemed dancing, in my opinion the quality of sound is always better than quantity of sound. I would much rather go for the extra capability and only ever use it at 20% because it’s a quality that is much better overall.”
George Squire, Facilities Manager, Upstairs Brixton.
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