Ken Berger, founder and CEO of VUE Audiotechnik, considers whether clubs are still at the cutting edge of audio, and the progress made over the last 12 months with emerging technologies in the sector.
Is the club audio environment still seen as one on the cutting edge where new concepts are tried before other sectors?
I think with the talent of audio engineers and technicians increasing significantly over the last five years - combined with the amazing capabilities of even modestly-priced digital mixing and integrated signal processing - clubs are a natural testing ground for new techniques. This is particularly true as the new, younger generation with degrees and training in AV technology enter the field. They have grown up being able to produce music on their computers and are much more eager to be an active part or all types of production.
Have there been any significant steps made in immersive audio over the last 12 months? Or is it still seen as being relatively niche/high end?
At VUE we believe immersive audio is still emerging, with club/entertainment applications leading the way. The technology has been out there for a while, but over the next 12-18 months we think price points will become more accessible, and the systems far simpler. VUE will introduce products aimed at this trend starting as soon as InfoComm. Of course the other part of this equation is 3D-optimised content for immersive sound environments. That may take a little longer.
Are venues now looking for systems that will enable them to cater to a broader range of applications?
Yes. We see a steady trend of venues upgrading their AV systems to broaden their versatility. Many clubs are upgrading their systems so they can provide “better” sound, while maintaining the high output capabilities necessary for rock shows. We are also seeing smaller lounge-type venues updating systems to accommodate guest DJs. You can not just get away with a loud system when it also has to do corporate events and/or audio for video, but the more “hifi” systems still has to be able to rock out when needed.
Is there any particular technology you see having a big impact on the club audio space going forward?
Obviously the upgrade to digital consoles is almost complete now, and we are continuing to see clubs re-investing in newer loudspeakers systems, with a clear trend toward replacing point and shoot boxes with compact line arrays systems.
Tell us about a recent installation project that highlights VUE Audiotechnik's expertise in the club audio sector.
We just commissioned a club-within-a-club system at the SOHO House West Hollywood (pictured). Knowing top-flight talent would use and listen to the system on a daily basis, we set out to deliver next-level sonic performance for the intimate club. Working with Sensorium AVR, we installed an h-Class High-Definition powered system, including the beryllium-equipped h-12 loudspeakers, and hs-28 dual 18in subwoofers with patented Active Compliance Management (ACMTM) technology.
We also just completed a project with Avon, our distributor in Norway, where we replaced an L-Acoustic Arcs point and shoot array with a line array system. This is a typical transition that we see happening in the market.