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CTS Fits Shaka Zulu with End-to-End Martin Audio

Shaka Zulu, the highly anticipated African themed restaurant and late night venue in Camden’s Stables Market, North London, opened its doors this summer - and in addition to the usual celebrity crowd, the opening feast was also attended by HRH King Goodwill Zwelithini, the Zulu king.

The venue, costing an estimated £5.5 million, is spread over two floors occupying approximately 27,000 sq feet, and features hand carved exotic wood walls, elaborate furniture and dominating statues - both over the main entrance and within the premises itself.

Shaka Zulu is a high profile, large scale project, some three years in the making; proprietor Roger Payne turned to long term supplier Carl Broadhurst and his company CTS Productions to provide the audible heart of the venue.

“For such a high profile venue, Martin Audio is always one of my personal first choices. Our past experience with this leading brand has been highly successful with more than a positive response from clients,” commented Carl.

“Having worked for this client on several previous projects, we understand what their expectations are and more importantly know that they already have a benchmark to judge us.”

The immense scale of Shaka Zulu within the premises provided the installer with a real challenge. “Our initial brief was to provide our client with a sound system that could remain refined, almost HiFi whilst the venue was operating as a restaurant, yet retain the ability to provide a potent high SPL dancefloor for those that prefer their evenings late and loud.

“We also had to consider what requirements corporate events would place on the venue as well as making provision for future live music projects, seeing as the Camden location is in the heart of London’s live music scene.”

The Martin Audio sound system is certainly comprehensive. The dancefloor, situated on the lower level of the two floors, features the potent W8VDQ differential dispersion cabinets - flown as a left / right arrangement. These cabinets were chosen for their high SPL and ideal characteristics for the low ceiling height and requested ‘minimal’ look the sound system should accomplish. They are complemented by a pair of flown Martin Audio Blackline F8+ cabinets, in a horizontal orientation, providing rear fill, and a pair of wall-mounted F12+ cabinets proving additional coverage to the left hand edge of the large area.

Low frequencies are augmented by a pair of WS218X 2x18” cabinets, which on the opening night caused enough vibration in the office space that they manoeuvred several expensive bottles of wine from the desk to the floor.

CTS Productions have maintained continuity with the brand upstairs where a pair of Martin Audio F15+ cabinets, flown in a horizontal orientation, provide an enhanced volume to one space, designated as a potential additional dancefloor. Some 36 units of the compact, wide dispersion AQ5 provide even coverage for most of the restaurant-only seated areas in the venue, while additional bass response is provided by four AQ112’s (two of which are concealed within the fabric of the building to keep the sound system as discrete as possible).

Martin Audio’s Engineer 818 8-in / 8-out DSP-based system controller, provides the front end to this large scale system, performing input matrix, zoning and initial processing before supplying feeds to an Engineer 418 and a pair of DX1.5s, that provide the individual loudspeaker processing and time alignment.

“The Engineer 818 is a very useful tool for installations such as this,” he says. “It provides excellent signal quality and allows us to provide enough control to the user, without compromising the integrity of the system as a whole.

“The ability to schedule the whole system is essential as it reduces user intervention to a minimal level and the ‘engineer’ algorithm applied to the music server ensures that the music content remains consistent in volume whilst retaining its dynamics and tone.”

User control is provided via two of the Engineer Remotes that allow selection of the ‘Restaurant’ ‘DJ’ and ‘Live preset zones and also control the individual zonal volume levels.

The system has a variety of inputs available, the first being the well specified DJ booth, featuring Pioneer CDJ2000s, a Rane Serato interface and a DJM 800 mixer with a pair of Martin Audio F8+ providing monitoring. Two stereo inputs are provided in different locations in the venue for live events and the final input is the music server provided by 8Track Music Solutions, a specialist bespoke digital music provider.

Supplier LMC Audio’s London branch trade counter team were integral in finalising the design of this system, with Jeff Woodford providing valuable input to several aspects of the job including the choice and configuration of the system processing.

“LMC have always offered us the best support, going out of their way to ensure our projects have the back up we require. It’s this, coupled with their excellent product knowledge and ability to offer extremely fast turnaround from order to delivery, that has ensured a long lasting business relationship between our companies” says Carl.

Although CTS Productions have now commissioned the installation, they will remain a regular face in the venue as they will not only provide a full support package for the sound system but also the technicians for special events.





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