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From the Terrace to the Main Room: A guide to the soundsystems of Ibiza

Ever wonder what powers your favourite Ibiza club?

  • Johnny Lee
  • 24 August 2017

Air Motions, Tri Motions, Void Incubus systems. This isn’t a list of weapons from the last Terminator movie. Funktion-One aerospace cones with Powersoft linear motors, Adamson S10s, d&b audiotechnik simulation software and custom build V-Prof rigs. These aren’t outtakes from an alien language. This is the sound gear that powers Ibiza. With raging basslines and Spanish noise restrictions very much in mind, let’s take a closer look at the equipment currently installed inside the White Isle’s super clubs.

Amnesia

V-Prof

“I have been DJing at Amnesia for 17 years now,” says current HYTE resident Mar T. “The venue is powered by a handmade system specifically made for Amnesia, called V-Prof. There have been three soundsystems installed in the venue before this one. Angel Moraes brought a soundsystem from Twilo in New York. It was used for two seasons, but we were constantly having technical problems.

“In my opinion, the Main Room is the better sound space, with a more powerful bass that sounds really good with all kinds of club sounds. The Terrace is more like a festival and can sometimes sound too sharp if you don’t take care, as the roof is vey high and has an open venue sound structure. The main pillar with the Amnesia system is that you don’t push it to the limit. That’s not a secret, of course, yet many guest DJs still insist on having the mixer lights in the red!”

“I first played Amnesia in 2011,” explains Together regular Mak, who returns to Amnesia this summer alongside his DJ/production partner Pasteman. “Back then, the Spanish residents were playing a European sound and the promoter wanted someone who was playing a UK sound to warm up. In terms of quality, it was a massive step up from some of the bars I was playing at the time. Having a full soundsystem to play with, without sound restrictions, was like a dream come true for any DJ.

“In England, most soundsystems tend to carry an incredible amount of bass. Especially some of the drum ‘n’ bass systems I’ve played on. When it comes to the Amnesia system, everything is balanced towards house music. Even though I was playing the bassier end of house, I actually prefer that kind of rig, as I tend to find over-driven bass volumes overpowering. At Amnesia, the levels in the booth are at a much lower level. You’re able to communicate with people, yet maintain a very clean, clear sound, rather than constantly fighting to find that transient you need to hear to mix on. That’s one of the first things I noticed: that there was always a clear frequency to catch hold of.

“One thing that really intrigued me about playing Amnesia was the Terrace dancefloor. Sometimes when you play at big festivals, where the area is huge and you have two monitors badly positioned, you can actually hear the sound from the main dancefloor reflecting back and you get an echo. At Amnesia it wasn’t an issue because everything is so well isolated. Basically, what you hear in the booth is being perfectly translated on the dancefloor.”

“To me, the Main Room is more bass-heavy,” adds Cuartero, who has been an Amnesia regular since 2013, performing at the Opening and Closing parties and also for HYTE. “When I play the Main Room I tend to go more techno. The Terrace is a much brighter space, so deep sounds fit better. But all in all, the soundsystem is awesome; extremely accurate but also very punchy and warm. From a DJ perspective, it's actually a really natural experience to play in Amnesia. The soundsystem is fantastic and you don’t need to do anything tricky. To have the best experience on the dancefloor, I recommend you find a spot on the first row of the Terrace, just in front of the DJ booth.”

DC10

Loud Professional

“I’ve been going to DC10 since 2000 and working with them since 2001,” says Andy Kayll, DC10’s Sound Engineer. “The first soundsystem we had was a random selection of speaker boxes inside, with six old Turbosound Top Box’s in the Terrace. In 2001, Piet and Jelle brought a big EAW system over to install in Blue Marlin. They couldn’t use it that year, so they took it to DC10 and used it in the Terrace for a season.

“Then, in 2002, DC10 bought two brand new systems, which came from Audio Factory in Italy. Each room had 12 passive top boxes, six double subs, and six single subs all running on QSC RMX2450 Amplifiers with a DBX Driverack Controller. There was a delay in getting them over to Ibiza, so I spent my 40th birthday installing and tuning the systems with their engineers.

“In 2010, the system that we were using on the Terrace got sold to a club in Brazil. I actually went out to Brazil to install it. That’s when we got the Void Acoustics system on the Terrace, comprising of eight Airmotion, six Stasys X, and two Airten. Amplification was all FFA and we used BSS Soundweb 9088ii for the control. The following summer we put a new system in the Main Room, designed and manufactured by Loud Professional.

“In 2012, we moved the Void Acoustics system out into the Garden and installed another Loud Professional system in the Terrace. This meant we had Loud Professional in the Main Room and the Terrace, with Void Acoustics in the Garden. The VH Layer112H+EMD worked very well in the Terrace, so in 2013 we reconfigured the Main Room, swapping out the top speakers for the VH Layer. Then, in 2015, we installed a third Loud Professional system in the Garden. Today, all the rooms at DC10 are powered by Loud Professional. It’s a very big group of systems for such a small club.

“Loud Professional are not terribly well known outside of Italy, but in Italy they do everything from big dance events, football matches, equestrian and tennis tournaments. The Loud systems don’t look as interesting as Void Acoustics. The Void Acoustics systems always look really funky; they’re almost like pieces of art. But, for us, Loud is a much more configurable system. It has made our job easier to an extent.

“We use two systems to assist with dynamic control throughout the club. The overall control is done using BSS Soundweb London units; these can store and recall many hundreds of presets on the fly which is very useful for equipment changes or live act tweaks. It also allows us to monitor all three areas from one control point or via a portable iPad. The Terrace also has an XTA DP548, which gives us an additional feature called Dynamic EQ for taming room acoustics.’’

“This is my fourth year working at DC10,” says Richard Walsh, DC10’s Assistant Sound Engineer. “Together with Andy, I take care of the sound levels in the Garden, the Main Room and also on the Terrace.

“The Main Room is more full on. It’s a closed room and everything is a bit closer. Everything feels more intimate. The bass is incredible because the dancefloor is sandwiched in-between three different areas of subs. It’s a really dark room, ideal for techno. The Terrace is a slightly bigger room. It’s more open and feels much airier.

“This year, we spent a couple of weeks leading up to the Opening Party repositioning one or two of the speakers and working to rebalance the sound. In the Garden, we added some extra delays and replaced the original single 21 subs with a pair of double 21s which are just phenomenal. It was a new cabinet from Loud, designed specifically for the DC10 Garden and it’s out of this world. The work we did over the winter has really paid dividends; a lot of the DJs have mentioned how good DC10 sounds this year. Obviously we try to improve year on year, but Andy has been working at the venue now for such a long time that we already know how the speakers should be aligned to create the best overall sound. The biggest challenge for us is juggling the DJ changeovers throughout the night. There are very few clubs in the world that have between 13 and 16 headline DJs playing on one night like they do at Circo Loco. Every headline act has their own technical rider, their own requirements. But even so, we have it pretty well dialled.”

Eden

Void Acoustics

“In 2013, Eden had a complete top to bottom refurbishment,” explains Void Acoustics’s Mike Newman. “The new owners first experienced a Void Acoustics soundsystem at the legendary club Air in Amsterdam. Subsequently it was decided Eden would install Void's flagship soundsystem, Incubus, in custom gold to keep in line with the visual concept of the club.

“In addition, Eden houses Air Motions, Tri Motions, Airtens, Stasys X V2 low frequency enclosures and a plethora of various Venu series loudspeakers as fills throughout the club. The seamless sound field this creates is an experience not to be missed.”

“The first time I played at Eden was in 2013,” says Defected resident Jacky. “It was a workers party and just after the big refurbishment. Even though I haven’t played on the previous set up, I am confident in saying it was a good move, because the sound in there is ace!

“It's actually quite difficult to compare the two rooms purely because of their shape and design. The Main Room has very high ceilings with a lot of curved walls and an upstairs mezzanine which looks down on the dancefloor. With it being such a large area, reverb times and echo will have been factors to consider when deciding where to place each part of the system. These issues may not have been as difficult to deal with for Room 2, which is a much more intimate area with a lower ceiling and a less complicated shape.

“Wherever I’m playing, I always try to make it to the sound check if my flights enable to me to make it in good time. And I will always acquaint myself with the sound engineer before my set. At the end of the day, if something isn't right with the system and I don't speak up, it doesn't just reflect badly on myself, but also the club. It's important to be vocal about it to ensure I have a mint time, but also so that everyone on the dancefloor has an even minter time!”

Adamson

“When High Scream were awarded the production installation project for Hï Ibiza, the island's most anticipated club opening, Adamson were at the top of Romain Pissenem’s list for sound design within the club,” says Ushuaïa Press Relations Manager, Ana Isabel Moreno. “Hï Ibiza required a bespoke system design with defined accuracy and, just to make things a little more complicated, the venue ceiling was to be free of speakers to make space for an embed of advanced production machinery.

“To overcome this challenge, the E12 line array naturally found its place in the new club. The E12 required smaller speakers to fill the gaps in the ‘Theatre room’. This role was perfect for a 10" smaller line array of the S10 series, used as downfills, outfills and VIP reinforcement, but also where the ceiling can't go below a height of more than 2.80m.

“Of course, no line array system can perform without a lower frequency extension and the E219 was used here to extend the line array range of frequencies as low as possible, while keeping a real punch and the ideal pressure for the different styles of music at the club. Similar to Ushuaïa Ibiza, the whole design was engineered and computed with Adamson's BluePrint predictive software that allowed an early accurate and even SPL coverage as soon as the architects were able to release construction plans.”

Sound designer Julien Poirot adds: "Attack, dynamics on the low section are optimised by a low thermic compression due to the latest Adamson technologies. Mid-range is probably the most powerful and has the best clarity of the HF section. For that reason, Adamson’s units were the perfect choice for the best audio performances at Hï.”

Ibiza Rocks

Void Acoustics

“Void Acoustics' new Arcline 8 line was installed at Ibiza Rocks this summer,” explains Void Acoustics' Head of Sales Mike Newman, “making it the first installation on the island. The soundsystem had to be designed to provide excellent coverage throughout the venue, while adhering to local noise restrictions which stipulated that noise heard outside the venue must be kept to a minimum. Arcline 8's highly accurate dispersion, paired with Stasys Xair’s low frequency enclosures help to contain the sound within the venue.

“Another factor to consider is that Ibiza Rocks Hotel hosts music acts in its central courtyard, which is typically surrounded by guests watching from their balconies. The central courtyard is equipped with twelve Arcline 8s and six Stasys Xair low frequency enclosures, together with Cyclone 10 fills throughout the venue.

“The Arcline system is highly versatile; the new installation has been designed to handle the diverse selection of music offered by Ibiza Rocks, including rock 'n' roll, disco, house, techno, rap, trap and hip hop. The soundsystem can be deployed in two modes: one for live music which focuses the energy of the soundsystem at the area directly in front of the stage; and the other mode providing a wider sound field when hosting pool parties.”

“When we found out that Void Acoustics had just launched a new high-end touring system, suitable for live and club, we were naturally drawn to working with them,” says Ibiza Rocks co-founder Andy McKay. “The new system takes us into a new phase as our event portfolio evolves to include more daytime clubbing. This summer we are all about daytime pool parties and the beauty of having a hotel with a pool and stage in the middle is that we can deliver club levels of volume without causing outside disruption. I don’t think anyone else on the island can say that. Our guests can dance outdoors by the pool all day in the sunshine with the music loud and feel totally unrestricted. It’s a pretty unique situation for Ibiza and the new Void Acoustics system will help us to create that incredible atmosphere.”

Ocean Beach

Void Acoustics

“One of the jewels of our many installations on the island is Ocean Beach,” Void Acoustics’s Mike Newman explains. “In stark contrast to the late night thundering techno Meccas Ibiza is known for, Ocean Beach is outdoors and offers a more relaxed vibe throughout the day. The main soundsystem features the instantly recognisable custom orange Air Motions around the main dancefloor, supported by many Airtens and Stasys 118 low frequency enclosures which deliver direct sound to the sun beds and pool areas.

“You’ll notice when you walk through the venue that all the elements of the soundsystem are designed to keep the sound field contained within the club, with the satellite speakers making sure the sound pressure is delivered to where it is required. The sound can be focused on specific pockets of the club, without having to crank up the main system. It was a huge stipulation of this particular club that we focus the energy of the soundsystem within the boundaries of the venue and not have anything flooding out.”

“This will be my fourth season at Ocean,” explains resident DJ Tom Crane. “We have a Void Acoustics system throughout the venue and use a Das Audio monitor in the booth with a Void Sub. Areas like the dancefloor reach around 15db of acoustic pressure, which means we have a good chunky sound throughout.

“Playing Ocean is different to playing an indoor venue. The Das monitor is awesome and our levels are very carefully watched to keep the sound chunky and crisp in every part of the club and sounding great with vocal, deep and tech house tracks. Being an outdoor venue, we are very careful with our levels and we keep a good eye on that. Myself and fellow resident Grant Collins discuss what works and what doesn't work with the management and also with our sound tech guy Alberto.

“When it comes to getting the most out of the Ocean soundsystem, it’s the same as any system really: stay out of the reds! Pushing a system might give you a little more volume, but you will lose sound quality along the way.”

Pacha

d&b audiotechnik

“This year will be my fifth season playing at Pacha,” says Pure Pacha headliner Danny Howard. “It’s everything you would expect from an Ibiza superclub. Loud, pounding, but with incredible clarity that doesn’t deafen you the next morning! Inside the venue there are so many little areas to explore, but you never feel like you’ve left the party because the sound is so incredible. I’m not necessarily an engineering geek, but I know what a good soundsystem sounds like. It needs to be loud, crisp and clear on the dancefloor and, personally, I love a little extra bass.

“As a DJ, it’s important to keep the mixer levels out of the red. It’s a simple rule, but you’d be surprised just how many experienced DJs don’t follow it. The more you push it, the more the limiters fight back and the worse your set sounds. Let the compression do its thing.

“One of my other favourite rooms to play is the Box at Ministry Of Sound in London. Whilst acoustically, it’s a bit more centred thanks to the square layout, the clarity and depth in the sound you get is similar to that of Pacha.”

“I’ve been working for Pacha since 2001,” says Pacha’s Technical Production Manager Toni Prats. “Currently we have a d&b audiotechnik soundsystem installed in the venue. In collaboration with Juanma de Casas and application support from d&b audiotechnik Spain, we designed a complete soundsystem for the club. The V Series was the newest release of the brand and it is a perfect fit for the size of the venue. Pacha has a complex architectural design, so it was a big challenge to get the acoustic coverage right. We can work with simulation software packages, but these programs are virtual and cannot predict every architectural issue. Subsequently, we’re always working year after year to develop our soundsystem, trying different things or speakers to find out exactly what we need. No matter how much time or money you spend on your system, it is always sensible to invest more. After all, our soundsystem is the tool we use to reproduce the tracks being played by our resident DJs. We must make sure this music is accurately reproduced to the listener.”

“At Pacha, we tune the soundsystem specifically to suit every party. R1 Control software allows us to do this. All of this information is saved and has a really fast recall if necessary. We can reproduce the lowest frequencies down to 32Hz, which means you can feel and listen to a warm, clear kick or bassline. The V Top Speakers are able to reproduce high levels of pressure, keeping vocals smooth and clear. But source is the most important thing in all work. We’ve worked hard to arrive at the final tune of the soundsystem, but if the source fails nothing can fix it. Good mixers such as the DJM900 Nexus 2 from Pioneer, Xone:92 from Allen & Heat, Rane MP2015 or Model1 from Playdifferently are my preferred mixers to use. Keeping DJs out of the red on the gains or master is basic. Ultimately, collaboration between the DJ and the sound engineer provides our customers with a better experience and this is what makes Pacha such a great place to party.”

Privilege

Funktion-One

“We’ve enjoyed more than 15 years on the island and continue to have a really strong relationship with Ibiza,” explains Funktion-One Managing Director Ann Andrews. “Most people will be familiar with Space’s Funktion-One sound; we’re proud of what we achieved there and the role we played in its success.

“We’ve got another big summer ahead in 2017, working closely with Carl Cox and Resistance on 10 consecutive weeks at Privilege. Carl wanted something extra special for those nights, so we’re deploying our ground-breaking Vero system. Nothing comes close to Vero in terms of performance and flexibility; it really is unprecedented when it comes to impact and control.”

“Since the official launch of Vero last year, the system has featured at quite a few high profile festivals worldwide,” adds Funktion One Technical Director Tony Andrews. “These include Welcome To The Future and Dekmantel in Holland, Transmission in Prague, Sydney and Bangkok, Into The Valley Festival in Sweden, and the Carl Cox and Resistance stages at Ultra Music Festival Miami and Croatia. It was also the system of choice for Nile Rogers’ Fold Festival in London.

“The Vero system is a large format touring system designed for stadiums and arenas, so the size of Privilege doesn’t present a problem here. With its accompanying prediction software, Projection, we have been able to tailor the coverage to reach under and on top of the balcony from just two vertical arrays. Because it is a touring system it can be installed and uninstalled very rapidly. This is particularly useful as we will be reconfiguring the system for the Resistance shows. Our new 32-inch bass horns can deliver half a ton of force, bringing a new level of bass experience.”

Ushuaïa

Adamson

“Ushuaïa has an Adamson soundsystem,” says ANTS resident Andrea Oliva. “The main line arrays are hung from custom built PA towers made up of twelve Adamson E15 cabinets to the left and right of the stage where they provide maximum coverage of the audience area. Two more arrays, this time made up of four S10’s are hung under the main PA for out fill. The S10 is a relatively new product from Adamson that is very compact and lightweight but still with a large output making it perfect for this type of application and venue. The only change made at ANTS compared to the other parties is that a soundsystem is built around the daytime DJ booth with MDC subs and more S10s to provide full coverage around the DJ booth – and then it’s switched to the main stage system for the closing acts. The main system is in place for all the parties there, the only difference in the sound is the style of music.”

Johnny Lee is Mixmag's Ibiza Correspondent

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