In the heart of London lies Waterloo Station and, beneath it, Leake Street. Also known as Banksy Tunnel, this famously atmospheric passage is Europe’s largest legal graffiti site. Here, the darkness is illuminated by the kaleidoscopic creations of artists who come from far and wide to make their mark before their work is painted over by the next ‘writer’.
Within this hub of cutting-edge urban culture, eight former railway arches are being developed into independent restaurants, bars, and entertainment spaces. And when passionate audiophile Sam Davis heard about the project, he knew it was the perfect place to realize his dream of creating a venue that would use immersive technology to connect artists and brands with their audiences on a deeper level than ever before.
With more than 20 years’ experience in hospitality, Davis was frustrated by the poor sound quality offered by most venues, so got to work on Aures London with the aim of creating the best-sounding venue in Europe. When looking for a pro audio partner, they didn’t have to go far.
“We went and listened to a Pioneer Professional Audio setup at a place nearby and the first thing I noticed was that we were surrounded by sound. Despite it being a L-R studio setup, it was pushing the boundaries,” remembers Davis. “It’s quite a weird experience to be immersed in a sound system and that was what I was really attracted to.”
Pioneer Pro Audio Manager, Alex Barrand, set about assembling a system that’s suitably unique for Aures London, which accommodates 300 standing, or 100 seated guests. Among its 54-box setup, which covers three sound planes, Barrand flew several clusters of four XY-81 8-inch two-way loudspeakers with an XY-115S 15-inch bass reflex subwoofer in the center of each group.
“This setup is different from what other brands call ‘immersive sound’,” explains Barrand. “It’s a different type of configuration and it doesn’t lean on the DSP, it uses analog fill instead, so the boxes are doing what they should be doing at the right time, creating a much more real sound.”
Why did Barrand choose to install 40 XY-81 units? “The one-inch compression driver produces a more natural frequency response, which suited the venue perfectly,” he says. “Using a reflex-loaded cabinet means everything is in line, which transpires to minimal delay from the configuration. This produces a more natural sound because you’re not delaying everything.”
The system is the world’s first permanent 3D and true stereophonic sound system and since it was unveiled in mid-2018, Aures London has hosted numerous audio experiences for artists, music companies, and brands. The crystal-clear sound – which is perfectly consistent wherever you are in the room – has received rave reviews and numerous comments that even the most familiar songs sound brand-new when played on the setup.
There’s no limit to the boundary-breaking events that Aures London has in store. Multisensory experiences including holograms, projection mapping, and even custom scents are now in place to create fully immersive event experiences. With such an ambitious project, it was essential to have an audio partner who understood the big picture and was enthusiastic about shaping the system to make fresh possibilities a reality, rather than simply installing speakers and taking the money, explains Davis.
“We wanted to be as geeky and as scientific as possible and none of the other brands had sonic immersion, so that was what made us think of Pioneer Pro Audio,” Davis recalls. “Pioneer Pro Audio did everything right, we had a common ground of geekiness, so I knew we could create something that would be scientifically precisee. We looked at other brands, but my main thing was always the post-sales, tuning, making sure everything is right, and getting artists in here. We wanted people to walk out of Aures London and say, ‘wow that was nuts’. Being able to work together to constantly improve and develop the system really matters to me.”
Aures is the latest in a line of world-renowned festivals and nightclubs to partner with Pioneer Pro Audio. Since launching in 2013, speakers from three versatile ranges have been installed at events and venues including Lovebox and fabric in London, Ultra in Singapore, KM5 and Ushuaia Tower in Ibiza, and Sound Nightclub in Los Angeles.
“At Aures, it’s not about volume, it’s more about controlling sound. We can still create loudness but it’s only 90dB and the sound remains the same no matter where you are in the venue.”
Sam Davis | Co-Founder | Aures, London