A matter of fact

London's three floor, 32,737sq ft, 26,000 capacity venue, matter, is a purpose built space designed to offer an advanced new proposition for both live music and club nights in the vibrant capital. Kelly Lewis speaks with Most Technical's Dave Parry about the club's fit-out.
A matter of fact
By Kelly Lewis
Tue 11 Nov 2008 04:00 AM

London's three floor, 32,737sq ft, 26,000 capacity venue, matter, is a purpose built space designed to offer an advanced new proposition for both live music and club nights in the vibrant capital. Kelly Lewis speaks with Most Technical's Dave Parry about the club's fit-out.

Matter forms part of the O2 Arena Complex in Greenwich, the new all-concrete, heavily soundproofed building is the brainchild of matter and fabric owners, Keith Reilly and Cameron Leslie, and represents a multimillion pound investment.

Most Technical's Dave Parry was asked onboard by Reilly and Leslie, with who he's worked on several previous projects. Their brief to Parry was for him to take the use of entertainment technology to a new level.

I know the people at Robe, and many others I consulted recommended the brand to me. - Dave Parry.

Parry working alongside both Martin Audio and Void Acoustics has installed a unique sound system to deliver some of the most sophisticated sound around.

Working closely with architect William Russell, and interior designer Sarah Adams of Pentagram, Parry was able to overcome many of the design challenges normally faced in club installations.

It was the first live venue project for the architecture firm and they have created an edgy neo industrial aesthetic for the venue that is as imaginative in its design as it is architecturally sympathetic to its surroundings.

Matter's neutral colouration and cool concrete, stone and opaque metal surfaces allows for Parry's ‘immersive' colour scheme - changing LED illumination - which is based on colour, sonic and rhythmic psychologies for audiences to be able to attain the maximum enjoyment from music and the environment.

Central to the whole matter audio-visual experience, is full integration of all mediums - lighting, sound and video - and the ability to create large cross-medium effects like sending waves of colour, movement and music around each of matter's three main spaces.

Literally thousands of LED light sources - primarily from the Color Kinetics SSL range, including several kilometres of Color Kinetics iColor Flex product - are embedded in various architectural features around the venue, including the walls, pillars, balconies, corridors, stairwells and other public and circulation areas.

The system has been configured so that all the lighting, sound and video are controlled from an Avolites Diamond 4 desk, with MIDI signals triggered from the Timax 3D audio processing system in the main room.

This enables sound to be mapped and moved (all triggered via the lighting cues) around the room in sync with lighting and projection, which brings integration to a new level.

The gently curved main room has a stage and dancefloor and a balcony level running 270 degrees around the space.

The interactive dancefloor is a core feature at matter, which includes Djenerate's new BodyKinetic system that Parry describes as "80 transducers on steroids".

Some 75,000W of sound is pumped out from the core of the pulsating floor, which ensconces eight strobes.

To add to the dancefloor's vigour, two pairs of Void's signature Air Motion triple-horn mid/highs fit-out the floor, together with four Axsys X subs, plus Airten twin-cowl units as infills and as DJ monitors.

Each of the seven booths on the floor are equipped with an Airten unit and a Mycro X, which has been specially designed as a perfect under-seat fit within the dimensions of the booth furniture.A particularly innovative design, the Mycro X includes two 12-inch drivers in the cabinet volume normally occupied by one driver, increasing the sub's power handling to some 1500W.

Parry specified an Avolites Diamond 4 Vision console to be at the centre of the control system, which drives all the stage and dancefloor lighting, plus the entire wall washing LED sources in the area.

The video running 12 Sanyo projectors, all fitted with custom scanning mirrors, is fed via two of Pixel Addict's new digital Addict Media Server, also triggered from the D4.

I have taken it to a whole new level and included full Pro Tools HD recording and a video editing suite. - Dave Parry.

It is the first time a lighting console has been used to control all these immersive technical elements in one room.

For moving lights, Parry chose eight Robe ColourSpot 700E ATs and six ColourSpot 575E ATs to light the stage and dancefloor.

"I wanted something reliable and dynamic, I know the people at Robe, and many others I consulted recommended the brand to me," Parry says, adding that the 575s were ideal for rigging over the stage because of their compact size.

Other lighting includes eight ETC Source Fours, 24 PARs and four Robe 2.96 REDBlinders; all patched through 96 channels of Avolites ART2000i installation dimmers.

Meanwhile, the entire audio creativity is a story apart. Martin Audio's vast armoury of power amplifiers, including the MA12K form the bulk of an engine room that has been placed on full display on the bridge, high above the control booth.

In addition to Martin Audio's 55 amplifiers and the Timax 2, other key processing devices include the Yamaha DME featuring 128 output channels.

The mainstay of matter's sound system is a Martin Audio W8L Longbow line array, which is driven five-way.

The system incorporates Timax Outboard Processing allowing sound to be mapped in three dimensions. It can also be manipulated around the entirety of the three-storey venue as a whole or in separate zones, as required.

In the main room multiples of wall-mounted AQ8's and AQ12's cover the Bar area, along with AQ215's while the main room audio arrangement consists of a L/C/R line array system comprising W8L Longbow hangs and W8LD downfills, complemented with three W8LMI enclosures and a W8LMDI downfill.

On the balcony level six Blackline H3H+ units are mounted to provide further coverage and eight WS218X cabinets provide the overall sub extension, while a pair of Blackline F12+ cabinets and S18+ sub bass provide the DJ monitors.

High up in the Main Room, 17 x AQ8's and six AQ210 subs provide further infill.

2 matters too

For matter's Room 2 on its second level, Parry has created more of a conventional Martin Audio club sound, using four stacks of H3T+ boxes and WS218X's - one stack for each corner - while the Blackline F12+ and S18+ sub provide the DJ monitoring.

Room 2 is a bit darker and more discreet in feel than the other areas, again with a massive emphasis on colour changing LED wall and alcove washing architectural light sources - a mix of Color Kinetics SSL iColors, iCoves and iColor Flex units - plus 24 Kam 800S LED bars in the ceiling.

The only other lighting fixtures are four Robe Scan 575 XT's, and eight Robe REDWash 2.36 LED wash lights, picked to fit in with the whole LED texturing of the venue.

With enough DMX channels to control all the LED environmental light sources, the Avo Pearl Tiger lighting console is the ideal sized desk to do the job in Room 2.

The Tiger also triggers another Addict server running video into two Sanyo projectors in the toilets. Each individual tile on the WC walls has been mapped enabling a variety of individual pictures to be projected onto the walls.

Another matter

The intimate and darker Room 3 features a long corridor with a dancefloor at the end.

It has 16 large plasma screens in the roof and 12 custom LED floor panels and the rest is lit entirely with Color Kinetics iColor Flex linked into Resolume 3 AV software along with a selection of camera feeds.

To emphasise the vigour of the dancefloor and surrounding area Parry wanted small, fast and vivid moving lights and chose eight Robe Scan 250 XTs.

The fixtures hang from the ceiling above the dancefloor coupled with 16 Kam LED bars, which are also linked to the plasmas and all the LED architectural lighting in the area, with everything being linked back and controlled from Avo Pearl Expert lighting console.Room 3 offers VIPs an uncompromised view of the stage from the balcony, with access to the Sky Bridge. Here 16 x 50 inch plasmas are set in the roof over the VIP Bar, which match up to the 50 inch LED panels in the floor.

The 12 Panasonic projectors, and an additional large screen, cover the roof void with dry ice (above the gauze), so that it forms a visually enticing view from the Sky Bridge.

"I have wanted to do an operation like this for 10 years," says Parry.

"I have taken it to a whole new level and included full Pro Tools HD recording and a video editing suite. The recording studio links to a separate studio and I have put camera points in allowing for full HD transmission."

Kelly Lewis speaks one-on-one with Dave Parry about the installation and design process for matter.Why did you choose to install a line array system in matter's club environment?

We used the line array at fabric and we were very pleased with the sound and coverage. As we were looking at matter being more a live venue than a club it made sense to use the Martin Audio W8L Longbow and supplement it with Martin's Backline H3H+s. We wanted to have a main PA that would blow people away and be directional enough to avoid a lot of reflections from the concrete surfaces.

How is the sound system designed in terms of surround sound coverage?

Outboard's Timax system is at the heart of the processing so, we designed the system around Timax's capabilities. The main hangs of Longbow provide the main PA with a smaller centre cluster giving some fill for the front. The six H3H+s are positioned around the floor to give a fully immersive sound hub.

Being an all-concrete venue, what challenges did this pose for you on a sound level?

Loads, reflective hard edge surfaces created real challenges, we used Martin Audio's Viewpoint Software to position the line array to avoid as much as possible and the Timax does a good job in containing the sound across the floor.

The bass was a problem but we arrayed the subs using Martin's software to tweak the system.

Has the roof been engineered to maximise optimum sound coverage?

We used acoustic insulation products, including large acoustic baffles and an acoustic void system to increase acoustic effects as well as various layers of soundproofing - the whole venue is soundproofed to 140db.

How did you go about selecting the equipment for the matter install?

We always look for what is best for the club. I don't start out with a budget; I look hard at the space and then approach manufacturers/suppliers to install the best system possible for each individual project.

It was the first time I have used Yamahas DME sound processing, with a sound system that has 78 inputs and 128 outputs we needed a high spec processor that would allow us to time align every speaker and give us top quality audio. Additionally, we needed good support and back up on such a large system and after many trials we went with the DME and have been very happy with the results.

What challenges did you have to overcome if any in this project?

A fair few but working alongside the architects allowed me to overcome many of them in the design stage. It was good to work with someone, who designed around me rather than the other way around. This allowed me to put speakers where I wanted instead of having to put them out the way of some design feature.

The main challenge was the plasmas in Room 3. Getting a custom frame built to hold up almost a tonne and a half of AV gear wasn't a lot of fun, but we overcame it.

The upstairs VIP area also gave us some sound design challenges, but the final sound design is fairly straightforward, using a triple-horn Air Motion at each corner of the dance floor, plus the big subs.

Together with the output from the Mycro X subs, the club has massive amounts of power available for this area, but with consistent high-level quality wherever you go - a seamless result throughout.

How did the opening night go and how has the equipment been performing - have there been any issues?

The opening night was hectic, but very positive. All the reviews have been encouraging and any negative comments have been noted and changed.

Being able to use the entire club as a blank canvas is exciting and challenging and we are doing amazing things but there is a lot more potential and we are working hard to explore all the possibilities.

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