It doesn’t often happen on an installation visit that we get a complete technical run-down and also manage to see the facility in use. Our visit to Booom!, Ibiza’s newest club, is a happy exception: we enjoy a full walk-through tour with Alex Barrand of Pioneer, and later we return to see the venue in full swing – or, at least, as full as the swing gets in out-of-season March.
On the back of its major presence in the world of DJ equipment, Pioneer moved into the club loudspeaker market last year with the launch of the GS-WAVE stack and the XY series, developed in association with Gary Stewart Audio. Something of a legend in the field of nightclub speaker design and manufacture, Gary Stewart sadly died midway through the Pioneer project, but his widow was keen to see the work continue as a legacy to him. And after Barrand demonstrated the new speakers to Giuseppe Cipriani, who was looking to open a club on the island for the summer 2013 season, he soon had an order for their first major installation.
An experienced sound engineer, Barrand’s credentials include helping to design the Martin Audio installation at London’s Ministry of Sound. His role at Pioneer – professional audio manager – encompasses sales, product development, system design, tuning and even programming. He put together a graphical interface for the Soundweb London BLU units that control the system at Booom. This resides on his laptop; as we walk around, he uses it to bring up the levels in each area of the club in turn. There’s chest-pumping bass, and good definition in the mid and high ranges.
The heart of the installation is the four GS-WAVE speaker stacks positioned at the corners of the dancefloor. Three metres high, each stack comprises a WAV-SUB multi-fold hyperbolic horn subwoofer with two 18in rear-loaded drivers, with a large horn extension; two high-power WAV-LOW speakers for the low to mid range; and on top, the WAV-LENS, loaded with two coaxial compression drivers and fitted with a Pioneer Acoustic Lens (a set of downward-angled slats) for 110º horizontal dispersion. Additional top-end coverage is provided by WAV-TWPOD omnidirectional tweeter arrays suspended from the ceiling.
Developed alongside the GS-WAVE is the XY series, which consists of an 8in and a 12in full-range enclosure, and an 18in and a dual-15in sub. These have been deployed in the various zones throughout the club, such as VIP areas, paid seating and the space behind the DJ’s decks, which is generally reserved for the DJ’s friends. Barrand has designed the system to produce even coverage in each of these areas, without any sonic ‘hot spots’. By time-aligning the system, he has also ensured that there is sonic cohesion as you move through the club.
Both speaker ranges were developed in conjunction with Powersoft. While Pioneer has its own range of consumer amplifiers, for the professional range it wanted to work with one of the big names in amplification. Powersoft proved to be an excellent fit: partnering with Pioneer suited the Italian company’s wish to move more into the installation market, says Barrand, and the ampifier maker gave quick, detailed feedback following their meetings. Barrand observes: “I’ve used Powersoft before, prior to working for Pioneer, and I’ve always been very pleased with the results – power handling, the small physical size, and the software – it’s great to have that inbuilt DSP.”
He continues: “When we were designing the speakers, we wanted to build them from the ground up with an amplifier that we can recommend. You can use any amplifier, but it’s better to match the performance of the amplifier to the speaker. It enables you to have consistency in your design.”
While Barrand wanted VIP visitors to be able to adjust the levels in their areas, he felt that a volume control button would not be robust enough. Instead, they pass a request to club staff, who use his control interface to make the adjustment. The interface can also be used for to adjust the EQ – usually to make the dancefloor less ‘boomy’ at the start of the night when fewer people are there.
The installation was carried out by local company The Shop Ibiza, run by Simeon Friend. “They really enjoyed working directly with Pioneer – this was a whole new business for them,” says Barrand. “Simeon’s gained a lot of exposure from the project – and we’re planning another installation with them.”
Our tour of the club finished, we head off for a late dinner (the main Ibiza clubs don’t open till midnight) and then back to the club, where we get the chance to hear the system in full flow. The sound is just as impressive as during our demo, and we make use of the laptop to turn up the levels in our VIP area. Fortunately we resist the temptation to do the same for other parts of the club.
Some time later, we look in at Pacha on the way back to our hotel – but to our ears, the system doesn’t sound as good as the one we’ve just left.