£2m Stafford venue chooses Harman JBL/Crown/BSS system

When Walsall club owner Graham Pinches purchased the former Zanzibar in Stafford in June last year, he knew he would be inheriting a formidable building with a rich nightclub heritage.

Formerly owned by Springwood Leisure (and later Nexum) the newly-named Club Couture can trace its roots back to the nascent era of disco as Cinderellas Rockerfellas, and also Northern Soul haunt, Top of the World. Along the way it has also been a Coliseum and Fatty Arbuckles — further names redolent of the golden age of disco — until it finally closed its doors in October 2008.

Couture Leisure’s general manager, Scott Miles was determined to reintroduce classic club sound and lighting (and a twin-scene concept). Craving a sound that resembled the Ministry of Sound, he couldn’t believe his luck when it was the legendary London venue’s former head of technology Dave Bradshaw — now part of Sound Technology’s project support team — who advised on a matched system, based on JBL components, that would deliver the dance sound he was looking for in the main ‘Couture’ room.

“What we have tried to do is recreate a bygone generation of what nightclubs used to be about — with separate light jockey and a sound system that would make people go ‘wow’ when they walked down that ramp into the club without the sound shaking the place to death,” says Miles. “The public now has such a high standard of home entertainment that we needed to be way above anyone’s expectations.”

The original JBL recommendation, however, had come from Batmink’s sales executive, Shaun Robertshaw, who had dealt with Graham Pinches in the past. As a result, the Batmink man supplied four JBL AM6340/95s to be flown over each corner of the dancefloor, with four ASB6128’s, coupled in pairs, in front of the DJ podium at floor level. Further JBL SRX712M’s and an SRX718S sub were provided for high-class DJ reference sound, and at the far end a pair of JBL AC2212/95s are recessed into the newly-extended stage apron.

Finally 12 JBL Control 25’s provide infill around the main club periphery and in the Games Arcade.

The installation and commissioning of the system Robertshaw placed in the capable hands of Loughborough-based installer Gary McDougall of Audiolite, working in conjunction with interior designer Nick Muir of Stockport-based Core Design.

Some £2m was committed to completely refitting the 1700-capacity club, enabling it to open by the end of the year — and this included £190,000 on the sound, light and video technology in the main room.

Flanked by a games arcade, Couture is complemented at ground floor level by two smaller rooms — named ‘Blanc’ and Noir’.

Dave Bradshaw made several site visits and was able to establish a routing matrix economically by using the processing in the Crown XTi series amplifiers to optimize the system, restricting the external processing and routing to a single Soundweb London BLU-160, configured 8-in/8-out, and a BLU-10 local remote in the DJ booth. Five XTi 6000, two XTi 2000 a, five XTi 1000 and two XLS-802s drive the system throughout the club and the sound is also pumped down to reception so that arriving guests are exposed to the impact of the club on entry.

Said Dave Bradshaw. “By adopting this approach we have given the club a very cost-effective processing solution. If the system is properly maintained this sound system should last them forever.”

Scott Miles is delighted with the sound. “It achieves exactly what we set out to,” says Scott Miles, adding that Graham Pinches (with two other clubs already under his belt) will now be looking to extend the Couture/Noir/Blanc concept further along the M6 corridor.