In the heart of Manhattan sits a modernized relic from a foregone era: NeueHouse Madison Square, a private members club that seeks to rekindle the classic meeting spaces of old Hollywood elite and the British professional classes of the Victorian era. However, the spot’s owners knew its unique setting and retro-stylings would require a robust and bespoke audio setup, so they reached out to local integration company See Factor to find out what would match both the acoustic and aesthetic needs of NeueHouse.
“Members come here to work and to experience interesting shows and talks, but mostly they come here to feel at home,” says Anthony Farina, NeueHouse Madison Square’s assistant general manager and head of AV technology. “We strive for a balance in all of that, and sound is a big part of it, whether it’s direct sound like speech or music, or ambient sound as you work and network. The sound has to be as unique and dynamic as everything else here.”
Mark Friedman, managing partner at See Factor, says the creative team at NeueHouse Madison Square expressed equal emphasis on sonic performance and interior esthetics when they began discussing the venue’s sound system. This is because the goal of NeueHouse Madison Square is to provide its members with the best possible audio experience since it is literally a part of its carefully curated vibe. To that end, See Factor opted to work with L-Acoustics to create a highly customized sonic environment using speakers and amplified controllers.
Complex Performance Space Requires Bespoke Audio Solution
This was no easy feat, as the performance space is much more complicated than what meets the eye. For example, the largest part of the space is actually raked seating—known affectionately as “the Spanish Steps,” an ode to Rome’s Piazza di Spagna—enclosed on either side. From there, members can take in performances from some of the world’s most renowned artists like Phillip Glass and Lee Ranaldo and talks from the likes of Arianna Huffington and Ndaba Mandela.
Just as understated but powerful is the PA system, which uses two L-Acoustics X12 speakers to form a left-right array, with an X8 speaker in the center, all flown. A pair of SB18 subwoofers are available when needed, such as for DJ nights, and can be patched into floor pockets fitted below window columns. Four more X8 cover the upper part of the seating and adjacent floor areas. Five ultra-compact 5XT speakers add delay zones around the main space, while even smaller X4i systems provide intimate audio for a pair of compact cabañas facing the buffet area. NeueHouse’s rack also holds two LA2Xi and two LA4Xi amplified controllers.
“We have the entire space carefully zoned, with the speakers chosen for what each area needs, from the X12 for the performance space to the X4i for ambiance,” says Farina. “Again, it’s all about balance. For instance, we can pull the rear zones down in volume even as we increase it on the X12 and X8 in front. The speakers have excellent pattern control.”
“Sound quality and esthetics were equally important to them,” he says. “The system had to have great fidelity but also disappear. We were able to show them the small-format speakers from L-Acoustics, like the 5XT and X4i, which are incredibly compact but still deliver substantial SPL. Multiple short-throw speakers were the way to get impact and coverage throughout this multi-use space.”
At the same time, Alex Jones, See Factor’s installed audio supervisor, says that Soundvision modeling software from L-Acoustics was critical in determining exactly where to place each speaker to assure proper coverage and imaging. “Soundvision creates the sonic map we need for speaker placement,” says Jones. “But in conjunction with the X12 and X8 speakers, whose pattern signatures match each other exactly, we had the perfect solution to keep the sound on the seats and off the walls and floor.” In fact, sound dispersion was so precise that the X4i speakers, which hadn’t been specified initially, were added to the cabañas because they were so well isolated from the rest of the room’s sound.
“The space sounds so good, and it works for speech and music and everything in between,” says Farina. “It has all the horsepower we need, yet you’d never know it was there if you didn’t hear it. It’s exactly what we wanted for a very special place like this.”
Click here to see inside NeueHouse Madison Square’s private member’s club!
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