Bla Bla, a new beach club leisure complex in Dubai encompassing 20 bars, a beach club and three restaurants (as well as sound stages) has been equipped by AV integrator Pulse (based in Dubai) with a complex three-zone audio configuration driven by Powersoft amplifier platforms purchased from local distributor ProLab.
“I strongly recommended Powersoft to the client as it excelled compared to other brands during the tender process,” says Bengan Hovgard, the project’s audio design consultant. “Their products have myriad strengths, namely their system integration flexibility, intuitive power sharing and software features, and the availability of presets for many brands. They are also incredibly reliable, and the support is second to none.”
Audio project manager at Pulse Middle East, Jacopo Fois, adds, “In terms of the amplifiers, there aren’t many products on the market other than Powersoft that can handle this quantity of channels with ease. There were so many different zones and speakers, but with the ArmoníaPlus software it doesn’t matter where you’ve assigned your speakers, you can see them as individual objects and adjust them without a moment’s thought. This makes it very easy to return to the project later on to make adjustments, and for remote management too. You don’t have to find all the schematics and drawings and figure out what’s connected to where, you just open the file, go to the speaker and do what you need to do.”
With lockdowns still an issue that have necessitated that many workers stay at home, the ability to be able to work remotely on the Powersoft amplifier platforms was an advantage for Pulse in terms of time efficiency, Fois explains. “The monitoring tools in the amplifiers also make it very easy to manage such a massive system and troubleshoot issues when they arise – if there’s an issue with a particular speaker or speaker line, for example, it’s very simple to connect remotely, navigate to the speaker, check its signal and impedance graph, and identify the problem in a matter of minutes, without setting foot in the venue.”
The Powersoft products specified for Bla Bla Dubai were distributed between three distinct AV rooms. In the first, Pulse installed 13 T604 amplifiers as well as a Quattrocanali 2404 DSP+D, a Quattrocanali 1204 DSP+D and a Duecanali 804 DSP+D, while the second room’s audio system required four T604 amps, two Quattrocanali 2404 DSP+D, a Quattrocanali 1204 DSP+D, and a Duecanali 804 DSP+D. In the third room, Pulse deployed nine T604, two Quattrocanali 2404 DSP+D and a T304 for stage monitoring.
“As there wasn’t a high demand for touring products at the time, the flexibility of the T Series amps really helped,” Fois says. “Obviously they’re not designed for installation, but they still do a fantastic job. One nice feature was the ability to pipe control and Dante down one cable, which reduced the number of required network switch ports. With the sheer number of amps in each AV room, this made a lot of difference between using one network switch in each compared to two.”
He also cites advantages that the more conventionally deployed Quattrocanali and Duecanali amplifier platforms major strengths can give to this kind of project: “Power sharing is a massive convenience on a project like this, from specifying the amplifiers themselves through to installing and configuring them. With a bit of help from the power sharing calculator and a simple spreadsheet, it’s very easy to calculate the required quantity of amplifiers en masse, saving a whole load of time. In addition to this, we can be sure that we’re not wasting any power on each of the amps, by balancing the load between the four channels and making sure each amplifier is handling an even load.
“No power is wasted, and no amplifiers are overloaded, meaning a very cost-effective installation, both at the time installation and later down the line when it comes to maintenance, as we can be confident these amps are going to last for years.”
Despite the three AV rooms being distributed throughout the venue in order to minimize cable lengths, some of the long runs could not be avoided. However, the Damping Control on the Powersoft units allowed Pulse’s engineers to compensate, keeping a consistent subwoofer response throughout the venue.
“On such a large installation, the physical size of the amplifiers was also important to minimize floor footprint in the venue. This meant that we could fit all 144 channels (or 175,000 watts of potential audio power) into just three racks,” Fois says. “Power efficiency is another factor, with such a quantity of amplifiers throughout the venue and different zones operating at different times, the very low idle power consumption saves significant power over time, which is good for the environment as well as the client’s wallet. By the same token, the amplifiers’’ heat efficiency is also significant, given that, in the Middle East, cooling costs can quickly add up, so the efficiency of these amplifiers saves on cooling too.”
Pulse created a signal processing “super matrix” for the facility with three Symetrix Radius NX series processors (one in each AV room) that serve as the core of all the audio routing throughout the venue. “Setting the delays and gain in the super matrix itself would be a laborious process, thankfully the sleek user interface of ArmoníaPlus helped out with that,” Fois notes. “By mapping all the speakers onto a layout of the venue, delays and gains were set for each individual speaker, for each set of delays (the venue was effectively tuned five separate times), saved into individual files, and then these parameters were copied into the super matrix.”
The in-house staff at Bla Bla received training from Pulse on the Symetrix platform, which is how they will be interacted with the system on a day-to-day basis. “Overall, they’re very happy with the audio installation,” concludes Fois. “Unfortunately, there hasn’t been much chance for a full-tilt shakedown of the venue due to the restrictions, so we’re really looking forward to seeing the venue in full operation with multiple bands and DJs and a full crowd.”