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Ibiza club audio installs – just how different are they?

Ibiza is a unique club location – but how do the audio installations there compare with those elsewhere?

As we read in the first part of this feature, Ibiza is a unique club location – but how do the audio installations there compare with those elsewhere, asks James McGrath?

The most obvious difference is that Ibiza clubs tend to be larger venues. This means their audio systems must pummel crowds in their hundreds, if not thousands, with quality sound.

This is especially the case for clubs such as DC10, which is located in a converted airport hangar on the south-east of the island.

“The clubs in Ibiza are all owned by very different people. Some clubs are about making money, some clubs are about delivering an experience that people will take home with them and never forget. It’s not hard to see who’s who,” says Olly Wayman of rental company Audio Hire Ibiza/DMT Audio Visual. DC10 is considered to be the clubbers’ club of Ibiza – and Wayman presumably puts it into the second category. It is set away from residential areas to ensure that the SPLs – from its Void system – can consistently blow the audience away.

According to Simeon Friend of integrator the Shop Ibiza, other brands able to meet Ibiza clubs’ high expectations include “predominantly Funktion-One up until a few years ago. Now we are seeing d&b audiotechnik entering the DJ market, and Pioneer’s new XY system is gaining ground as a very credible system.” Hugo Quintanilla of local rental and installation company Pro Audio Ibiza adds that Lab.gruppen amplifiers are also prevalent on the island.

Obviously volume levels are a sensitive subject in any environment where residents could suffer from noise pollution. Even a festival that runs for a few days would typically be subject to rigorous checks to ensure surrounding areas aren’t affected by the noise. With the big clubs in Ibiza pumping music right through the night from May until October, this is an issue they can’t afford to ignore. “The rules in place on the island are tighter than ever and the penalties are enough to put anyone off,” underlines Wayman.

According to Quintanilla, one way integrators can address this issue in areas of the island closer to residential areas is by talking with manufacturers about products that offer noise reduction.

Wayman adds: “Everybody loves bass; when we are in a club we want to feel the music, so it’s not without surprise that the low end of the system in most clubs is equipped for warfare. This is usually what gets the complaints rolling in. Luckily for us, Funktion-One’s new Bass Reflex range of subs still allows us to deliver killer bass but in a more intimate environment.”

Friend continues: “We moved across to a d&b audiotechnik cardioid system to help minimise unwanted lower frequencies spilling into neighbours’ properties at our private villa parties. It helps a lot.”

When it comes to maintenance, having an installer based on the island can make the difference between a well-supported system and a neglected one.

“We have experienced it many times, where installations fitted by ‘off island’ companies fail to get the support they need,” explains Wayman. “If we have a system out here it’s our job to keep in contact with the venue, drop in from time to time and be ready to respond if they need us.

“Many venues fail to see the need for an engineer or at least maintenance staff for their system, and it shows. I could take you to a few venues now that I know have technical issues or failed drivers that have been like that for weeks,” he continues. Evidently there is a need to make some clubs aware of the importance of having regular equipment servicing and upgrades.

Ibiza is different. This unique island on the Mediterranean Sea at times requires co-operation between competitors, amassing resources so that clubs are able to deliver for their clientele. This approach to business is quite apt for a place that vibrates with an innate sense of unity. These clubs have huge appetites for audio systems – and rightly so, as clubbers have a hunger for music that is arguably bigger than in any other place on the planet. This leaves the island in a constant state of audio renewal – whether that be system upgrades or entire overhauls.

Picture (Pete Tong at Ushuaia) courtesy of Allen & Heath.