Created by the team behind Lock, Stock and Barrel (LSB - see article here) in Barsha Heights, Dubai, Inner City Zoo marks Solutions Leisure Group’s entry into the UAE’s nightclub scene and the return to the nightlife sector for Solutions Leisure Managing Director, Paul Evans, and Creative Director Freek Teusink. The pair - who have known each other for more than 20 years - had previous operated nightlife venues in Egypt, such as Ministry of Sound and Hed Kandi Beach Bar, but in more recent years have been more active in the F&B industry. Inner City Zoo is located at Rixos The Walk Hotel, JBR, Dubai, which also houses a second Lock Stock & Barrel that is two-and-a-half times bigger than the original venue and American steakhouse concept, STK. All three are operated by Solutions Leisure Group, with the latter being a joint venture with New York-based 'The ONE Group'.
For the audio solution at Inner City Zoo, Paul and Freek turned to another longterm collaborator, Pulse Middle East. The brief for the sound system was high SPL; a crystal clear, warm sound; powerful, accurate, full-range bass reproduction; and to be able to achieve 130dB throughout the club. Joe Chidiac of Pulse ME described the design process: “We started from the DJ booth with the design for a large FOH system. After defining the necessary FOH system, fills were specified for near-field sound and low-frequency reinforcement in the rest of the club.”
The FOH system comprises six TW AUDiO T24Ns for wide coverage and high SPL, these are complemented by two BSX FOH subwoofers in infra mode and four B30’s stacked on top. “This combination can accurately reproduce the full range of low frequencies with an even dispersion and fits together perfectly,” continued Joe. Although it was smooth sailing with the FOH system, as he explained: “The FOH subwoofer system caused the concrete structure of the club to visibly vibrate, causing both structural and acoustic concerns, as the system could be heard throughout the hotel. The subwoofers had to be raised on a sprung floating platform to reduce the transmission through the building structure allowing the club to run with a high volume level inside and little disturbance through the rest of the hotel.”
Joe also had to flip the T24Ns upside down because they were installed inside the hexagonal ceiling feature and the structure was obstructing the horns, but flipping the cabinets fixed the problem. TW AUDiO’s T20i’s are deployed as extra speakers around the club for localised near-field sound, and B18 subwoofer are distributed around the outside of the club to provide localised low-end reinforcement. The placement of the T20i’s had to be adjusted during the design process due to the ceiling height being reduced as more ducts and other services were added above it, but with some adjustments, the cabinets now work very effectively. “The structure built around the FOH subwoofers reduced the output to the sides significantly too, so the B18 stacks in the corners had to be delayed and adjusted carefully to compensate for this loss,” Joe added. A couple of M15 monitors and a single B15 subwoofer takes care of the DJ setup, which includes two Pioneer CDJ-2000 Nexus 2 multiplayers and one Pioneer DJM-900 Nexus 2 mixer.
Powering the system are five Powersoft X8 amplifiers, which are Dante enabled. “Smart integration with the company’s Armonia software and interactive tuning made it easy to align the system before the club construction was fully completed, as it wasn’t practical to continuously play pink noise through the system,” said Joe. “Active damping control allows control of the subwoofer damping, so we could adjust the subwoofer response to make it more or less punchy.” The X8’s also offer options for input redundancy and a three-phase supply, which eased phase balancing for electrical contractor. Pulse ME specified two BSS Soundweb London BLU-50 processors and two BSS Soundweb London BLU-DA processors for DSP control. The latter offers Dante / AES67 audio and BLU link, which means it can be used to add Dante / AES67 to one or more BLU link devices. “We could use the leveller function in BSS to limit the sound without the usual compression artefacts,” explained Joe. “Using two independent pairs of matrix units meant that in case the primary system failed, the amplifiers would automatically failover to the secondary, identical system.”
Using familiar contractors proved to be a failsafe decision for Solutions Leisure Group, it seems the team have cemented a winning partnership with Ardent Limited and Pulse ME. As the group’s first venture back into the nightclubbing world appearing to have gone relatively smooth, it’s likely it won’t be too long before we hear about the new venture.