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Dubai restaurant gets invisible audio from K-array

A K-array sound system, consisting of Kobra-KK52 invisible speakers, has been selected for the newly opened Italian restaurant Matto in Dubai, by integrators Procom.

In an effort to stand out from the crowd, Matto has opened its doors in Dubai with an industrial theme that blends the mechanical with small town Italy. A background of concrete walls and metal grating contrast with the bathtub filled with compost and fresh-growing basil.

“The décor here is astonishing,” said Liam O’Brien from Procom. “They’ve got the heavy metal look going on and the DJ booth is on a Vespa! The area was scary at the beginning when we first started deploying the system as it was an empty room. I was listening to it and thinking, “What have we embarked upon? This will be a disaster!”’

With such a focus on the visual aesthetics, the client brief stated that the restaurant required a sound system that would ‘disappear into the décor, without compromising on sound quality’ – essentially invisible audio speakers. Therefore, O’Brien and his team utilised AutoCAD drawings and EASE simulation to determine the proper solution. This resulted in the selection and design of a K-array system, although there were still concerns about the space.

“The biggest challenge was the concrete and all the reflective surfaces,” said O’Brien. “The venue is hall-like and I told the client that we would do the installation and if it then still didn’t sound good, that they should be prepared to spend some money on acoustic treatment. They were fine with that. It was important to them to keep the industrial look.”

Discussions regarding acoustic treatment would end there, as once the audio speakers were installed it was no longer deemed necessary.

“In the end I needed to do very little equalising,” noted O’Brien. “What absorbed most of the acoustics was the furniture, which brings a bit more irregularity into the room. The good thing about the décor is that it is chaotic in terms of breaking up standing waves. I did the EQing directly on the amp with the K-array software so that it was included in the hardware loop.”

The installation comprises 10 K-array Kobra-KK52 discreet line array elements, deployed five per side, hung with a combination of K-array brackets and custom brackets designed to take the difficulties of the environment into account.

“They are installed with vertical splay on one side as they are not too visible,” explained O’Brien. “On the other side, they are a lot more visible so we went with a horizontal splay, which works very well. This is something I have done at quite a few other restaurants with the splay, not only with the Kobra but also with K-array’s Python cabinets.”

Handling the lows and complementing the Kobras is a pair of 18in K-array subwoofers from the Thunder line, KMT18. One has been placed in a cage along the wall next to the bar, the other is across on the opposite wall beside the DJ booth. The Dubai restaurant’s décor would again present a challenge when it came to installing the second of the subwoofers, with the visual look of the room taking precedence over sound. Procom therefore had to make a compromise.

“This sub was meant to be the other side of the DJ booth,” O’Brien pointed out. “But, they had a change of décor and unfortunately they thought it would ruin the aesthetics.”

Behind closed doors, en route to the kitchen is a single Kommander-KA84 amplifier, which powers the entire setup, suspended below the ceiling above a storage area.

“It’s all we need. It’s a big amp with four channels at 2,000W. One channel powers the five half-meter Kobras down one side, another powers those on the other side and a channel for each of the subs. Just one amp to power the whole system: it’s as simple as that.”

“The distribution of sound is very present without being overly loud,” concluded O’Brien. “Clarity without the volume – that’s what you want to have everywhere.”