Two new Soundcraft Si Impact digital consoles and an elaborate BSS Soundweb network have been specified and installed by Middlesex Sound & Light (MSL) at the new 650-capacity Blues Kitchen Brixton.
This is the third Blues Kitchen to be opened by the Columbo Group, following Camden and Shoreditch, but has been upspecced to take into account the higher calibre of bands that it expects to host. Brixton is also the first of the venues to feature live music on two floors.
MSL project director Darren Olivier recommended the Soundcraft Si Impacts for FOH duty on both the ground and first floors. He confirmed that the spec had been carefully discussed and agreed with Columbo Group creative director, Liam Hart, and the resident sound engineer.
“The new Si Impacts were specified to create uniformity on each floor and streamline operation by the house engineers. It also reduces the requirement for outboard kit which takes up valuable space,” confirmed Olivier. “At previous sites we have always specified Soundcraft GB24 analogue desks — and while these have always been great, we felt the time was right to go digital.”
While reduced ground floor requirement necessitated the provision of a Soundcraft Mini Stagebox 16, up on the first floor a larger 32-input version of the Stagebox was installed to provide greater connectivity. “This reflects the larger channel requirement in the main room,” says Olivier.
MSL dipped further into the HARMAN catalogue, distributed in the UK and Ireland by Sound Technology Ltd, for the installation’s DSP requirement. Two fixed format (12-in/8-out) BSS Soundweb BLU-100 and two BLU-BOB 8-channel expansion units were installed to create a 24 x 24 distribution matrix.
In addition, a Soundweb BLU-10 remote has been installed at the FOH mix position on the first floor and two further BLU-10 touch panel remotes are at ground floor level (one at the mix position and one at the bar). All zonal volume levels can be independently controlled via the BLU-10’s.
Soundweb programming and system design was carried out by MSL senior project manager Toby Jones, as he has at all the many Columbo sites MSL have worked at in the past. Presets on the BLU-10 at ground floor level are time-of-day dependent. “This enables the user to push a time slot on the screen and the volume will automatically change to the predetermined level,” he explains. This is implemented by using timed gains, with the levels fading over 10 seconds, while the BLU-10 upstairs again has source fades, EQ trim and sub level adjustments. Toby Jones has also implemented a mute group for the stairs between the floors.
In fact all sound sources are designed to fade in and out, allowing for a gradual, seamless change rather than a 'snap', with a specially created source fade macro allowing for a three-second fade between sources.
MSL also made a generous provision of plug-in points, enabling iPods to be used at will, as well as providing all the stage production lighting. It is the kind of attention to detail that Liam Hart appreciates, and which will further encourage third party promoters to use the venue. “We have a really good relationship with MSL,” he stated. “We have worked with them for around five years and they have always specced our venues honestly.
“As we host multiple bands and DJs on any given night, the operation needs to run seamlessly, and a simple switch between the system presets enables, for instance, our resident soul band’s sound engineer to plug his show file into the Soundcraft desk without the need for a soundcheck.”
But according to Liam Hart you can't build a business on the live music programme alone and as with the previous two venues, Brixton’s Blues Kitchen will offer Texan BBQ, and a huge selection of bourbon. “We want to be known as more than a big gig space; we want [the clientele] to fall in love with the space and come back regardless of who's playing. We want them to have a love affair with the venue.”
JBL and all HARMAN Professional products are distributed in the UK by Sound Technology Ltd. For more information please call 01462 480000 or visit www.soundtech.co.uk/professional-audio