Harman Pro UK has supplied an advanced integrated sound system to KOKO, a new live music venue in London. The system features a JBL VerTec line array sound system in the main room powered by the new Crown I-Tech amplifiers; a full selection of AKG mikes, including one of the new WMS 4000 wireless systems and dbx’s DriveRack system processing units.
The installation, which also uses other Harman Professional brands BSS and Soundcraft, was undertaken by Xtreme AV who collaborated closely with the Harman Pro UK team on the sound design and system optimization.
New owners The Mint Group coordinated a multi-million pound restoration project that’s now transformed the charismatic Grade II listed building into KOKO, a venue for the 21st century. Starting life as the Palace Theatre at the end of the 19th century, KOKO’s vibrant refurbishment pays tribute to its past musical history: in the 70s it was The Music Machine, in the '80s it stood as one of the glamest clubs in London, and it was a rave venue in the '90s.
High Production Values: The Design Brief
High production values are imperative to KOKO’s success. First, they needed to cater to the diverse and wide range of performing artists and DJs who’ll be playing KOKO. The Harman Pro UK brief was to provide a fully integrated sound system that would ensure that each performer had access to consistently high production values–with no additional production sound gear required. A further requirement was that the system should also be capable of working in a conference context, as KOKO is also available for corporate event hires of all types.
Harman – Xtreme Enthusiasm for the Project
Harman’s Dave Budge project managed the contract with colleague and acoustician Tom Williams, and Xtreme’s John Nightingale. Utilizing their own extensive experience plus EASE acoustic modelling and Line Array Calculation software, they created a solution to deliver the best possible audio coverage everywhere in the venue. Dealing with KOKO’s numerous acoustic anomalies and multitude of ‘nooks and crannies–including balconies, a dramatically high ceiling, and plenty of and concave and reflective surfaces was a real challenge. John Nightingale’s prior and intimate knowledge of the building–stemming from involvement in the previous refurbishment in the early 1990s–proved to be a great advantage.
"Designing a project like KOKO is based on creating a state-of-the-art sound system within the required budget. Acoustically the space is very challenging, but it was an exciting project," says Tom Williams from Harman Pro UK.
KOKO: The Finished Project
The 1,500-capacity main room features 14 VerTec VT4887 full range line array elements, complete with four VT4881 bass enclosures per side–split between two elegant hangs. Subs are JBL ASB 6128Vs from the AE Series, concealed under the stage for maximum impact. In total, the FOH system has the power capacity of 28,000W and is capable of delivering up to 119 dB.
The FOH system is powered by the new Crown I-Tech amplifiers – six IT4000s and two IT6000s– designed for the toughest of touring and corporate applications.
I-Tech was chosen for KOKO because the output circuitry delivers high power with low distortion–providing smooth, open highs, with low phase shift. The ability to network the I-Techs together allowed Harman Pro to commission the system via a laptop using a wireless link.
Outboard processing is by dbx and BSS There are dbx 1066XL Dual Compressor/Limiter Gates, featuring the new dbx V2 VCA. PeakStop Plus limiting & sidechain input with monitor, together with dbx 1074 Quadgates, complete with frequency filtering and side chains. The superlative BSS DPR-901ii offers 4 bands of single channel dynamic EQ.
The venue’s existing Soundcraft Vienna 2 mixer remains as the FOH console, having been thoroughly refurbished and re-tuned by Harman’s engineers.
Stage monitors are six JBL 4702s, also powered by Crown XLS amps. The stage side-fill system consists of two JBL SR4733s while JBL AM6215/95 speakers have been added as front fills to the dance floor. The monitor board is the existing Soundcraft 500, which has also been reconditioned. Two DriveRack 480s provide digital compression and EQ for the monitor system.
Harman Professional UK have also supplied a full range of AKG mikes including the award winning C414 XLS, C451, C900 to cater to all types of live music performances, spoken word, speeches, and conference/corporate style presentations.
The installation includes a top of the range four channel AKG WMS 4000 wireless mike system. The plug-and-play nature of the WMS 4000 is ideal for situations utilizing several radio mikes simultaneously and offers KOKO the ability to provide a high-end professional wireless system to their clients.
All other rooms feature JBL speakers in different combinations–over 30 were chosen from the Control Contractor, Marquis and AE series.
The dbx DriveRack range provides state-of-the-art signal processing for these areas. Every model offers a full complement of features to deal with system processing. The DriveRack 480 provides processing for all the front fills and delays. The DriveRack 220i provides processing for the balcony bar area. The DriveRack 260 provides processing for the gallery and lounge bar and a ZonePro 641 in the green room allows those backstage to select from a number of sources including FOH, and allows the stage manager to page through to backstage.
Creating a specific ambience in each area was central to the KOKO management’s audio strategy. Using Harman’s diverse range of products has helped achieve this. Each room has a specially tailored sound.