5th May 2021 Bla Bla Dubai – which boasts 20 Bars, three Restaurants, and a Beach Club all in one venue – was created to offer a full day-to-night experience for visitors, all with breath-taking views of Bluewaters Island and Ain Dubai, the world’s largest observation wheel.
Located at The Beach opposite JBR, Bla Bla Dubai is set to be at the forefront of the city’s bustling social scene, and as a result every area of the venue required an audio system to match – or even exceed – the region’s high standards.
Pulse Middle East was trusted with the job of integrating this system after Bla Bla Dubai’s management was impressed by Pulse’s extensive portfolio of work with other venues across the city including Nikki Beach Club, White Beach at Atlantis, LSB, Brass Monkey, and Wavehouse.
Pulse – one of the Middle East’s leading audio-visual companies specialising in system integration since being established in Dubai in 2010 – opted for a complex three-zone audio configuration driven by Powersoft amplifier platforms purchased from the local distributor, ProLab.
“I strongly recommended Powersoft to the client as it excelled compared to other brands during the tender process,” said the project’s audio design consultant Bengan Hovgard, who was key in the recommendation of Powersoft for this particular job. “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.”
“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,” said audio project manager at Pulse Middle East, Jacopo Fois. “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 regional lockdowns still an issue that has 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 continued: “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 raft of Powersoft products specified for Bla Bla Dubai were distributed between three distinct ‘AV rooms’. In the first, Pulse installed 13 x T604’s, a Quattrocanali 2404 DSP+D, a Quattrocanali 1204 DSP+D, and a Duecanali 804 DSP+D, while the second room’s audio system required 4 x T604’s, 2 x Quattrocanali 2404 DSP+D, a Quattrocanali 1204 DSP+D, and a Duecanali 804 DSP+D. In the final room, Pulse deployed 9 x T604’s, 2 x 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,” said Fois. “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.”
Fois also cited a number of strengths 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,” he said. “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 minimise cable lengths, some of the long runs could not be avoided. Thankfully, 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 minimise floor footprint in the venue,” said Fois. “This meant that we could fit all 144 channels (or 175,000W of potential power) into just three racks.
“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 amplifier’s 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 Bla Bla Dubai with three Symetrix Radius NX series processors (one in each AV room), which serve as the core of all the audio routing throughout the venue.
“Setting the delays and gain in the supermatrix itself would be a laborious process, thankfully the sleek user interface of ArmoníaPlus helped out with that,” Fois said. “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 supermatrix.”
Although Covid-19 certainly had an effect on the installation, primarily by reducing the number of workers it was possible to have on-site, the team made sure appropriate safety measures were in place to reduce the risk of anyone contracting the virus.
The in-house staff at Bla Bla received training from Pulse on the Symetrix control system, which is how they will interact with the system on a day-to-day basis.
“Overall, they’re very happy with the audio installation, said 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.”
Picture credit: Andrew Morris / ProLab