When the owners of Berlin nightclub Magdalena took on new premises, the family-like group of friends saw an opportunity to create something unique in world club culture. With the shell of a former power station and the dream of a place where only music mattered, they partnered with Pioneer Pro Audio and set about creating a room dedicated to sound. There would be no bar, no seats, no stairs or raised areas – just a dancefloor filled with deep, underground, bass-heavy techno music. As co-owner Christian Mill explains:
“We’d love to be known in the world as a statement for techno culture.”
“We’ve made a lot of renovations to bring this historical monument back to life and this sound system is the last piece in the puzzle.”
Christian Mill | Co-Owner | Magdalena
Co-owners Christian Mill, Janek Funke and Daniel Mizgalski had been running Magdalena with the help of several friends at another site for just under three years when, in late 2014, they moved into their new building. Constructed in 1903, it had changed hands several times since it housed three huge steam engines that pumped electricity out to the surrounding harbour. Having been used for various purposes, including as a base for the East German Border Police and the offices of a socialist newspaper, the Magdalena team had ambitions to turn this empty ‘historic monument’ into a club that would become famous on the world techno scene.
As respected techno DJ/producer and Magdalena co-owner Daniel Mizgalski recalls: “The goal was to have something unique – something that not every club has. For a long time we thought about what we could do differently and then one of our engineers read about this new Pioneer Pro Audio sound system. So we flew to Ibiza to listen to it.” After hearing the GS-WAVE system Pioneer Pro Audio had installed at super club Booom! Ibiza, Daniel and his colleagues were convinced it was right for them. As resident DJ Stereo Jack remembers: “It was more than we expected; it was a step beyond. We really wanted it.”
But, for Magdalena’s main room, the team wouldn’t be happy with a traditional installation of four speaker stacks and infills. They wanted a system that would be powerful enough to keep running when the club was open for entire weekends without losing energy or giving customers fatigue and, most challenging of all, “We wanted full coverage in the room,” says Stereo Jack. “So, wherever you are, in every inch of space you feel the same energy.”
“We wanted a world-class system that would produce huge sound and Pioneer Pro Audio has delivered it – and more.”
Daniel Mizgalski | Co-Owner | Magdalena
Magdalena’s new home was a shell of a building, so its entire interior had to be rebuilt. Columns and floors were concreted, a media network was installed, and special attention was paid to acoustic absorption. Working closely with Pioneer Pro Audio, the club’s team closed window gaps, fixed sound insulation to the walls along with acoustic draping, and added layered slats to the main room’s back wall to contain LF build up.
“It was a real luxury that we had an opportunity to work with the owners while they were modifying the building, as opposed to installing a system in a finished room as you normally would,” explains Pioneer Pro Audio Manager Alex Barrand. “It meant that we knew the room was the best it could be and we were working purely with the frequency response of our system in that room.”
However, Barrand and his team did still have to contend with two corridors leading away from opposite sides of the room’s centre, which meant the six-stack configuration he wanted to use wouldn’t work. In order to achieve the completely even coverage that the owners asked for, Barrand and his team opted for eight of Pioneer Pro Audio’s three-metre GS-WAVE stacks with eight tweeter pods above the dance floor. Two extra WAV-SUBs coupled at the front of the DJ booth and two more directly opposite at the back of the room were added to create a power alley of pure subsonic frequencies down the centre of the room. It’s a huge system for an 800-capacity space. “The stacks in the corners are like excessively large infills,” explains Barrand.
“We noticed that was the best way to solidify the sound and energy in the right places.”
Barrand and his team customised various parts of the GS-WAVE system to give Magdalena’s owners the perfect solution to their brief. The WAV-SUBs at the front of the DJ booth were altered so they could be linked together and two WAV-LENS acoustic lenses were modified to fly above the extra subs and those at the back of the room. A second NL4 port was added to each stack to enable modular cabling – resulting in reduced cable length and equal resistance to each stack. Custom grilles were added to the subs to stop stray drinks bottles from finding their way inside and damaging the speakers, and they’ve now become a permanent fixture in the GS-WAVE series. “We’re listening to what our customers are saying and, in this case, we’ve taken it on board for future GS-WAVE products,” says Barrand.
The whole system is powered by 26 Powersoft amplifiers, including the massive K20 – the masterpiece of the flagship K Series. In addition to the K20, the onboard DSP featured on all the specified models is controllable remotely via the proprietary Armonía Pro Audio Suite, granting granular control over any parameter of the processing dynamic in order to optimise the Pioneer system.
“To use eight stacks in a room of this size is unheard of. It was a challenge to get the configuration right and avoid cancellation, but we pulled it off.”
Alex Barrand | Manager | Pioneer Pro Audio
It goes without saying that the new Magdalena system is loud, but volume was never the crucial factor in its design. The club’s owners wanted a system that would sound even throughout the room and keep the energy high for long periods of time.
“This is one of the best sound systems I’ve ever used. No matter where in the room you are, it sounds equally great,” says Magdalena’s Mizgalski. And, despite the perceived volume being so high, clubbers can still have a conversation, as his colleague Christian Mill explains:
“It’s just amazing bass pressure. The power is just...wow. You think it’s too loud to talk, but then you speak to the guy next to you and realise you don’t need to shout.”
When the system runs, the Powersoft amps don’t even blink because such a small amount of their capacity is being used – as little as 20 per cent. “This system has so much in reserve, it can run for as long as necessary and deliver the power when needed. It’ll also last for years because it’s not being worked too hard,” explains Barrand. So there’s more than enough headroom for the club’s weekend-long parties with no danger of the system getting tired and it fulfils the Magdalena team’s request of avoiding fatigue, adds Barrand. “The sound is extremely powerful but you can still communicate. You can feel comfortable over the six to seven-hour period you’re going to be in the room for.”
Perhaps the best testament to the system’s success comes from Stereo Jack who, after hearing the new system for the first time, remembers: “I was crying. The questions were answered.”
“You won’t find another room, I don’t think, in Europe or the world that is filled with this energy.”
Stereo Jack | Resident DJ | Magdalena
THE MAGDALENA INSTALLATION AT A GLANCE: