Colin Pattenden has been providing inspired installations using JBL components since the days when he was building recording studios for bands like Shakatak in the late 1970’s. Nearly 30 years later he delivered the highly inventive JBL ‘spheres’ for Matt Hermer’s award-winning West End restaurant Cocoon and now his company CP Sound has produced a stupendous JBL sound ceiling — incorporating 13 subwoofers — in the latest jewel in Manchester’s culinary crown.

Owned by Iqbal Ahmed OBE and his son Manzur Ahmed, Vermilion and Cinnabar was conceived by celebrated Portuguese designer, Miguel Cancio Martins, the man behind the Buddha Bar in Paris, Alain Ducasse Crystal restaurant in Marrakech — as well as Strictly Hush and Opium in London.

The owners committed a massive £5m to the development of the three-storey restaurant and bar complex on 9,000 sq ft at East Manchester’s Sportcity, with CP Sound introduced to the project on recommendation from the architects. Pattenden anticipated that the loudspeakers would need to be discreet, and working with the design team, décor-matched all the loudspeaker components to the RAL numbers supplied — making them virtually invisible.

Vermillion itself is a spectacular 200-cover Asian restaurant, with 300-cover Cinnabar upstairs; the music is fed alternatively from a highly-specified DJ booth and dual-outlet music server. The installer explained how he set about designing the system for distribution to 12 different zones in the giant open bore building. This involved localising the sound on the different levels by using enclosures with the appropriate dispersion patterns.

“We have used a combination of brown, bronze and gold finishes — and when you are talking about this quantity of speakers it becomes a big deal.”

Fortunately he was able to source all his requirements from the JBL catalogue. Starting at ground floor level he specified three JBL Control 24C compact ceiling speakers in the Reception area. Up in the restaurant 12 x JBL Control 24CT 100V line versions are fitted to the recesses — two in each recess — with a further seven in the toilets. Meanwhile CP Sound have specified four Control 24C low-impedance models for the private dining room with a further four in the waiting area.

Colin Pattendon explains, “While on the one hand the low-impedance models allow the operators to crank up the volume in these areas we have actually manufactured our own large toroidal transformer, so that the 100V line versions actually don’t sound much different. I’m very fussy about getting the best out of the CT’s.”

But it is on the second floor bar and dancefloor area where CP Sound have taken their 39 steps towards delivering their masterpiece. For the wooden-slatted ceiling is adorned with no fewer than 39 JBL speakers — 13 x Control 19CS 8” ceiling subwoofers and 26 x Control 26C’s running the mid-high.

“I use a JBL crossover from another box to ensure the impedance matches perfectly and this allows us to drive the system fairly hard — in fact we are almost at nightclub level; considering the Control 19CS only contains an 8” driver it’s remarkably punchy.”

There are an additional 6 x 24CT’s in the washroom area — while the technical booth is serviced by two a pair of JBL Control 28’s — hugely popular for DJ reference monitoring. Completing the complement of JBL speakers, the primary function room has been equipped with four further Control 19C’s and eight Control 26C’s while a smaller bookable room is powered by a pair of Control 19’s and four Control 26C’s. These private rooms can be fed from the second output of the music server.

“Why use anything other than JBL?” reasons Colin Pattenden. “They deliver great brand value and there is a model for every application. For example the Control 24C’s are wide dispersion speakers and thus work well in the restaurant area where we were able to use a smaller number. On the dancefloor we needed to contain the sound and since the Control 26’s don’t have such a wide spread they offer a much more practical solution.”

Everyone is delighted with the sound, he reports, “although the DJ’s were asking where the bass bins were!”


  • Vermillion and Cinnabar, Manchester
  • Award-winning bar and restaurant

Project Team


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