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Cover Feature: Reaching new heights

Cover Feature: Reaching new heights

Cover Feature: Reaching new heights

A new nightclub on China’s southeast coast is the first venue in the world to install a Vero sound system from Funktion-One

Located in the Siming District of Xiamen, Stellar is a new 1,500-capacity club, offering an area of 2,000m2 with a show-stopping 15m-high ceiling and extensive VIP section offering 109 sofas. The large space required a sound system that would be powerful enough to provide even SPLs throughout, without spoiling the look of the club’s interior.

‘My team and I have been working in the club industry for more than 20 years, and it’s always been our dream to create a leading, world-class club space that delivers the most stunning and enjoyable experience while promoting the best dance music culture to people,’ explains Zhuang Dayong, one of the club’s owners. ‘That’s how we started Stellar.’

Going on to explain his vision for the new club, he adds: ‘Music is the soul of a club like Stellar, and so the sound quality is a key element of delivering a top-quality, immersive AV experience. Underpinning that is the fact I’m a saxophone player and I used to have my own band. I know how much impact good-quality sound has on keeping the return of guests and club business.’

With that in mind, Stellar’s owners contacted Phoenix Audio, which has been Funktion-One’s distributor for China, Hong Kong and Macau since 2014. ‘One of the Stellar investors used to work at another local club whose sound system was specified, installed and tuned by Phoenix Audio about 16 years ago,’ explains company director, Chris Zhang. ‘He strongly believes in the solid service given by the Phoenix team, especially the support delivered by Phoenix’s technical team, headed by my partner, Mac Lo.’

Vero was launched by Funktion-One in 2016. Though it was designed with the challenges of live touring in mind, its ease-of-use and superior sound quality have found applications in festivals, large-scale electronic music events and now in the installed environment. The decision to become the first nightclub to install Vero was taken partly because the system fitted with the venue’s planned interior design.

‘The owners wanted to use a line array sound system for the new venue as they didn’t want their guests to see the speakers in the middle of the room,’ says Zhang. ‘Only a line array or vertically arrayable system could fit into the positions they reserved for speakers. The PA system had to have the long-throw ability for this huge auditorium-like venue. Quite late in the day they got in touch with us and we recommended Vero. They made their decision to work with us straight away. They showed real confidence and trust in us and Funktion-One.’

Adds Dayong: ‘At the beginning, our team wanted to use a line array system from a different manufacturer, as we believed then that it would be the best solution for the space. I have known the Phoenix Audio team for more than 15 years – I've always respected their professionalism and trust the technical support from their team headed by technical director, Mac Lo.

‘To achieve good sound for a venue, getting good equipment is important and it’s just as important to me to find the right people to work with. Therefore, I decided to have a talk with Mac and Chris and asked their opinions at the last minute before we made the decision on the sound system. I was not aware of the Vero system from Funktion-One until I talked to them – they told me Vero was the perfect solution for my venue. As Funktion-One is one of the brands I most admire, I just decided to go ahead with them without any hesitation.’

Funktion-One Vero V90/V315 hangs form the main system at Stellar
Funktion-One Vero V90/V315 hangs form the main system at Stellar

The sound system design was facilitated by Vero’s proprietary Prediction software and aided by its intelligent flying system. It was supported with assistance from the UK from Funktion-One founder, John Newsham, and sales director, David Bruml. They came up with a system comprising two flown hangs of three Vero V90 90° mid/highs and three V315 mid/bass enclosures on either side of the DJ booth. A three-by-three block of V221 bass enclosures is ground-stacked beneath the booth. Power for the Vero system comes from Lab.gruppen PLM20K44SP amps with Lake processing, as recommended by the manufacturer.

Elsewhere, Funktion-One R2SH skeletal mid/highs and BR121 bass-reflex speakers have been deployed for DJ monitoring, while a pair of R2SHs provide in-fill at the front of the booth, Evo 6SH skeletal speakers cover the seating areas on both sides of the booth and two Res 1.5s, eight F1201s and six MB212s take care of the seating area under the balcony. Four F218 Mk2 and six BR218 bass enclosures have also been installed to ensure even, low-frequency coverage in the seating areas. Phoenix Audio specified two XTA XO4A controllers and FFA amplification for these systems. ‘These offer stability and power, and are especially good at driving the mid/low and sub-bass,’ says Zhang of the FFA amps. ‘Vero is on another level of sound in terms of details, crystal clearness, dynamics, power and richness. It offers so much headroom.’

It wasn’t just the sound system that was a priority for the new venue. With their sights set firmly on creating a landmark destination that could offer a festival-like experience, the owners invested in a range of entertainment technologies, including a world-class truss system, over 1,000 lighting fixtures, 600m2 of LED and a sophisticated laser system. The venue was also given a significant amount of acoustic treatment to lay the foundations for a first-class listening experience. The music programme is predominantly EDM and guests so far have included global talent including Steve Akoi and Ummet Ozcan.

V221 bass enclosures beneath the DJ booth
V221 bass enclosures beneath the DJ booth

‘China has long been an important market for Funktion-One,’ says the UK manufacturer’s director of business development, Bill Woods. ‘As the market in China evolves, the appetite for high-quality entertainment has grown. This, together with a successful partnership with Phoenix Audio, has combined for a greater appreciation of Funktion-One, which is reflected in a growth in sales. While the large-scale nightclub installs tend to grab the headlines, we’re seeing Funktion-One loudspeakers being deployed on a variety of projects and events. This draws on loudspeakers from across the Funktion-One product range but the Evo Series, Res 2s, BR118s, F124s and the Compact Series do particularly well there. Time will tell, but the Vero installation at Stellar has certainly captured people’s imaginations. Phoenix Audio is an influential company that handles influential projects. Add in the recent launch of Vero VX and I think it’s safe to presume that we’ll be seeing more Vero installs in the future.’

‘Everyone, including me, is very excited and happy with the final sound result from our Funktion-One system, and with the reliable and efficient professional service support from the Phoenix team,’ adds Dayong. ‘We are very proud that we are the first permanent Vero installation in the world, and I’ll definitely work with Phoenix again on my upcoming projects.’

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