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JBL beam steering for new London Marriott hotel

Components from the Harman Professional range, including JBL CBT column arrays, JBL AE Compact Series and BSS Soundweb London, have been installed as part of the sound system in a new hotel in the Fitzrovia district of central London.

Built on the site of the former Berners Hotel – a historic building that dates back to 1835 – London EDITION is the first example in Europe of Marriott International’s new EDITION luxury brand, which reflects the company’s partnership with leading international design consultant and hotelier Ian Schrager.

The sound system was adapted by Staffordshire-based AV3 from an original specification by Clair Systems, Marriott’s long-term partners in the US.

AV3’s MD, Tom Blackwell, has a close working relationship with the Harman company, having previously worked for the company’s UK distributors (among other high-ranking companies in pro audio, including Clair’s UK distributor). AV3 is the result of a merger between Audio Dynamics and Talk AV to create a stronger focus on high-end audio system integration.

The 173-bed hotel is made up of 13 separate areas, including lobby, nightclub, gym, rest rooms, private dining, bar, reception and meeting rooms – all accessed by a BSS Soundweb London-based DSP zone system, while JBL CBT 70J constant beamwidth technology (including CBT 70JE LF bass extenders) have been specified in key areas, including the imposing Berners Tavern restaurant.

Blackwell’s company, under its previous guise, became involved in the project around two years ago. “The design was Clair Systems’, and was set up around JBL, although a number of brands were considered,” he confirmed. This includes JBL Control Contractor ceiling speakers and AC16s in some of the ancillary areas and JBL312C large-format ceiling speakers in the meeting room.

Aside from Schrager’s team, AV3 also worked closely alongside Clair Systems’ designer Jan Luszczek to implement the audio design. His Soundweb matrix enables audio to be routed from any sound source to any zone and makes provision for eight independent DJ plug-in points with balanced connectors to create flexibility.

Three Soundweb London BLU-8 remote wall controllers have been strategically placed for local operation along with two BLU-10 local remotes (with touchscreen control) for source and volume selection. Providing the configurable I/Os are two central BLU-160 processors, with a total of six BLU-BOB2 devices, substantially increasing the output capacity to service the many zones. AV3’s eventual Soundweb design file reflected the large number of modifications that took place along the way.

The principal inputs are from two of Marriott’s bespoke Grey-V media streaming devices with customer profiled playlists, which are constantly streamed in via the network before DJs take over at the weekend.

Tom Blackwell only ever considered a column solution for coverage of the principal areas. “We particularly wanted beam control in view of the amount of marble and stucco within a high vaulted ceiling,” he said.

However, a number of proprietary beam steering solutions were scrutinised before JBL’s CBT 70J/JE combination — RAL and Pantone matched in custom colours — was adopted. A total of nine CBT 70J (boosted by eight CBT 70JE) can be found in the lobby, bar and restaurant areas. “The low-end extension of the CBT’s was a perfect complement,” he said. “Everyone said how fantastic the sound was and the colour matching also removed any concerns about aesthetics.”

It also helped maintain brand continuity, since AV3 was already using other JBL products, such as eight JBL control 47LP low profile ceiling speakers in the meeting rooms, and a total of 25 ceiling speakers (the 24C 100V line model) distributed across the gym, rest room and private dining areas. “Clair Systems were happy with this proposal,” confirmed Blackwell.

“As for the CBTs in the corners of the restaurant, you can barely see them – they are so well colour matched that they disappear into the moss green walls.” In addition they have also used a pair of ultra-compact JBL AC16 cabinets as infills, while a further six AC16s can be found in the Punch Room Bar. AV3’s own custom-built low-profile subwoofers are built into the banquette seating throughout the ground floor of the hotel.

He concluded: “This is the nicest sound I have heard in a hotel – particularly in the lobby. Everyone has said how fantastic it is and the client is over the moon.”

All Harman Professional equipment was supplied by Sound Technology, the UK and ROI distributor. The hotel is one of six EDITION hotels that are scheduled to be operating across three continents by 2015.