The Driver goes with Martin

When Bernard Mani’s Systems Etc arrived to fit out Billy Reilly’s five-storey hybrid venue, The Driver, in London’s burgeoning Kings Cross development area, he chose to go with a Martin Audio sound reinforcement system.

More than 50 of Martin Audio’s AQ series (full-range and subwoofers) are found throughout the building and the system is optimised using five of Martin Audio’s InAVation award-winning Engineer 818 DSP’s, the largest single application of these recently-launched devices to date.

Given the venue’s reconfigurable usage — and wide selection of signal sources — the installer wanted a system that would give him vast input capacity, routing flexibility and a tailored gain structure.

Bernard Mani also used the BassCreator and Engineer algorithms to provide high-quality sound and give customers in the venue a perception of much greater bass SPL, whilst helping to eliminate low frequency noise pollution.

“In this application the Engineer 818 will be a very useful tool. We have 78 feeds running to the control rack in the basement so this is the perfect solution — every zone can be fed from every floor,” says Mani.

“As for speakers, I selected AQ because it had an answer for every floor and because the factory finish blended in with the décor.”

He has decorated the venue throughout with multiples of AQ10’s and AQ8’s — and since at its peak it will be running as a dance venue there is a generous provision of either floor-mounted AQ210 (2 x 10”) or AQ212 (2 x 12”) subs. In the toilets there are Martin Audio C4.8T ceiling speakers.

Excited by the expansive space The Driver had to offer, Billy Reilly originally purchased the freehold six years ago, trading it as a conventional pub before embarking on the £1.5m redevelopment programme 18 months ago.

“In looking for opportunities to expand the group we’ve always favoured Kings Cross, as it is our spiritual home,” he says. “When The Cross [a nearby multi-purpose venue] went, we decided to bring this project forward and create exactly what you see now.”

The original flats above the pub have been converted into trading areas, including a members lounge, two corporate floors, a fine dining restaurant and an attractive Moroccan-themed roof garden (where the music is played out through eight Martin Audio C115’s).

In what Billy Reilly describes as “fluid architecture” which came together organically, the conversion also boasts artefacts from The Cross, in the form of a Waltzer chair and vintage cigarette machine. Design highlights include the two wrought iron stairways — hand-welded in sections and linking the five floors — the exposed copper, wood and brick interior and the inspired Vertical Garden, designed and planted by world famous Parisian, Patrick Blanc. Also at the more opulent end are lava and varnished elm bars.

The first floor fine dining restaurant will be closed on Friday afternoon and transformed into a house party space. DJ’s will play on any of Systems Etc’s DJ booths on three of the floors, all of which include powerful Martin Audio Blackline F12+ speakers.

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