SSE Audio Group has designed and installed a comprehensive zoned audio system for the recently opened German Gymnasium restaurant, situated in between Kings Cross and St Pancras railway stations.
The German Gymnasium was built in 1864 and was the first purpose built gymnasium in England. Built for the German Gymnastics Society, it was used as a venue for the first National Olympian Games that were held in London in 1866.
The site was acquired by D&D London in January 2014 who then commissioned interior designers Conran & Partners to retain as many original details such as the climbing rope hooks to retain the building’s history.
SSE Audio Group has worked extensively with D&D London on projects including the award winning audio installation at Quaglino’s restaurant and were contracted to design and install the audio system for this project. SSE’s Installations director Emma Bigg was involved with the project from the beginning.
“The audio for the restaurant is primarily there to provide background music, however even at low levels intelligibility and audio quality are essential,” explained Bigg. “The two storey building is open right up to the roof trusses, so it’s easy for the audio to become lost in the ambient noise.”
The audio design by SSE places multiple loudspeakers throughout the building, positioned so that the listener is never far from an audio source, which aims to deliver the required intelligibility without any individual speaker being overly loud.
The design team opted to use Bose components for the installation, with the system split into two zones: the ground floor bar; and the upstairs dining area including private dining.
Behind the main bar on the ground floor, five Bose MA12 column speakers are mounted, discreetly hidden by a metal grill. Bose MB4 subs are integrated into the central fixed seating unit in the main bar area. In addition, Bose DS40F and Freespace 3 Acoustimass subs are flush mounted within the ceiling spaces.
Each individual seating booth houses a FreeSpace 3 surface mounted satellite speaker and an Acoustimass sub module, again integrated within the fabric of the building.
For the first floor areas, SSE opted to mount two K-Array KK102 column speakers either side of the bar area. The requirement for the installation to be as visually unobtrusive as possible meant the K-Array with its ultra-slim profile was the ideal solution for this area, where the mounting point is only a few centimetres wide.
Wall-mounted Bose MA12s provide the infill for the first floor and again each booth is fitted out with Freespace 3 Satellites and Acoustimass subs, ensuring a subtle and even audio coverage throughout the restaurant.
There is outside seating along two sides of the building with large umbrellas to provide shelter from the elements. Housed in each umbrella are two Freespace 3 satellites with Acoustimass subs mounted within the planters.
All signal processing and amplification is housed within a single 19in rack located in the restaurant’s communications room. All amplification units are Bose and SSE Installations provided custom panelwork and power distribution.
Three Soundweb London BLU100s provide overall system control throughout the venue. The BLU100 has analogue inputs, analogue output units and provides signal routing, equalisation and level control for each connected input source and loudspeaker. Staff at the venue can select the audio source and set the volume for each zone via one of two Soundweb London BLU8v2 wall controllers mounted behind each bar area.
The primary audio source is provided by Music Concierge, a bespoke music consultancy service, via a hard disk player with internet connectivity, which means playlists are updated remotely on a regular basis.
Bigg commented: “I believe we have delivered on the brief to install a discreet audio system that is capable of delivering intelligibility even at low volumes. Working with D&D purchasing director Paul Jenkins we were able to come up with a system that integrates well with the building and its acoustics. We’ve delivered a cost effective package that is simple to use, unobtrusive and most importantly sounds great.”
"It's the first really big restaurant project we've done in a decade," said Des Gunewardena, chairman and chief executive of D&D. "I'm very confident in the outlook for London. The building cost is high, so we're going to have to work very hard to pay that back. But it is classically what we do: taking interesting buildings and bringing them back to life.”