It’s all about the Bass at Prestige Pool Residence

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When your architects tell you your new garden room can either be a pool room or a party room, well that’s a difficult choice. But wait… with some creative thinking from Prestige Audio and the sonic quality of style-setting Italian speaker manufacturer K-array, you can have both in the same space!

“We worked with the client previously when they originally built the house in 2018,” said Joe Carri, director of Prestige Audio, a top flight specialist audio-visual integrator operating in the UK Smart Home and Smart Building marketplace. “They came to us with a brief for smart home integration with full video distribution and a home cinema, a project with an eventual value of over half a million pounds. Some years later they decided to add a large indoor swimming pool, gym and party room in a separate garden extension, and the main contractor recommended us as a trusted supplier and capable of delivering a bespoke high quality AV and automation solution for this new project.”

However, this time the audio brief was far from simple. The client wanted to create a large party room for entertaining, complete with kitchen facilities, large adjacent gym and outdoor living space, and equipped with a no-holds-barred club sound system – but at the same time it was to be an indoor swimming pool for the young family, and that brought in some weighty technical challenges.

From a constructional perspective what made the dual-purpose room possible was that the entire dance floor which sits just above the pool surface can be lowered through the water on hydraulic rams to become the floor of the pool, and raised again when required. This not only involved some heavy duty engineering but also required an intelligent approach to selecting and tuning a sound system to deliver its best in both pool and party modes.

“We spoke to our clients about what speaker system options they could have, and as they’ve now experienced high performance sound in the cinema installation we had done for them previously they wanted full-on, no compromise, club audio,” commented Joe. “Our challenge was the natural acoustics of the pool room, a large and highly reverberant 20m by 12m space with very reflective ceiling and pool surface and a typical RT60 of well over 2 seconds. We knew that to achieve that goal we had to focus a lot of energy into a fairly narrow horizontal plane at around head height to minimise reflections and avoid exciting the room too much.”

That led to an invitation to view K-array’s line array speakers at the Italian brand’s UK distributor 2B Heard, who organised a demo and carried out some preliminary modelling of the pool room. Joe was suitably impressed with the product range and the audio demonstration, and decided to specify Python-KP102 one-metre long line arrays along with Rumble-KU212 dual 12” subwoofers.

“They wanted the speaker system to complement the big mirror TV above the hot tub and be capable of going loud when the occasion demanded,” commented Joe. “So after modelling the room we recessed KP102 line arrays either side of the TV, and a further four around the perimeter to give even coverage across the room. They’re RAL colour matched to the walls so they sit nicely with the look and feel of the space.”

The subs, according to Joe, “were another story.” With no possibility to locate subs anywhere on the ground, the only viable option was to put them in the ceiling void. “The builder was nervous, the client was nervous, but when we showed them how it was going to be done and the result they could expect they were convinced. The KP102s are really efficient, and as our client wanted a really solid low end we installed eight Rumble-KU212s in the ceiling behind acoustically transparent cloth so the whole thing looks seamless.

“Calibration was tricky due to the very different acoustic conditions between when the pool is open or covered, but we arrived at a sweet spot where it sounds good all round. The KP102s dispersion pattern is narrow in the vertical plane and that ensures sound is directed towards listeners’ ear level, while the wide horizontal pattern covers the large room really well. The modelling indicated where we might expect some nodes and troughs in the low end, so we took advantage of that to create some hot bass areas in front of the TV and in the bar area. It works a treat and they love it!”

The K-array system goes loud, perhaps more than strictly necessary, and has loads of dynamic range. To keep a lid on things the system is limited to eliminate any possibility of overdriving, and it is also possible to dial in remotely to carry out any diagnostics, software updates or tweaks that may be needed.

It’s all powered by a pair of K-array Kommander-KA68 Class D DSP amplifiers with onboard digital signal processing from an equipment rack located in the neighbouring gym room. The dedicated speaker presets optimise performance for the chosen speaker models, taking care of the crossover bands between subs and line arrays as well as multiple integrated functions such as channel grouping, input and output parametric EQ, dynamic limiters, assignable signal routing, and channel delays. User adjustable parameters are available through Control4 automation via wall mounted touch screens dispersed strategically around the pool room.

“One thing that stands out for me is that they’ve got to be able to stand up to the pounding they’ll get – and pounding is the right word, they get hammered here and they’ve not missed a beat. And you know what, they sound good. It’s working well.”

The clients love the sound quality and they can take a bit of punishment as well, so says the lady of the house: “We really love it. When we have a party it’s like being in a nightclub! The system has such power and it never fails to impress us and our guests. We didn’t want a pile of speakers in each corner of the room – we wanted something discreet that blends into the fabric of the building – and that is exactly what the Prestige Audio team delivered, always giving the very best performance and service.”

“K-array is a nice brand for us to work with as it suits our profile,” said Joe. “We’re a small boutique audio design team and never take on work we can’t do justice to, so when there is an application for great sound with a discreet appearance we’ll not hesitate in using K-array.

“The support from 2B Heard has been fantastic, the whole experience has been great. To give you a timely example of first-rate support: we bought the amps about a year ago, not uncommon these days because COVID disrupted a lot of the supply chain, and consequently the amps needed firmware updates but so did the software that controls them. We’re here to do some calibration but we couldn’t do the updates on site so Matt Holland got on the phone straight away with K-array engineers and, in real time, went in through the back door and they’ve been updating the amplifiers as we speak, saving us an hour and a half drive to the office. How’s that for dedication?

“K-array is particularly well suited to this residential project,” he concluded, “the fact that the Pythons are a line array source is a big factor in giving the best coverage, and also because they’re on show we wanted them to be finished nicely with a RAL colour match. The client is very happy with the end result – great sound, functional and good looking.”

K-array equipment list:

6 x Python-KP102 line array

8 x Rumble-KU212 subwoofer

2 x Kommander-KA68 DSP amplifier

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