AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS – April 2020 – Located in the prime nightlife area of Lijnbaansgracht in Amsterdam, Melkweg (Dutch for ‘Milky Way’) is the second largest venue in Holland and one of the capital’s most unique music and culture hubs, attracting more than half a million visitors each year. The large building is housed in a former milk factory, giving the venue its name, and is divided into a number of spaces, including four halls for varying genres of music, a cinema, a restaurant and an exhibition space. Its largest 1,500-capacity concert hall is The Max, known for hosting famous international acts like Prince and Arctic Monkeys. The Max has recently undergone a complete sound makeover with an L-Acoustics K2 system now in place, ensuring that the music delivered by the venue’s star-studded list of performers is crystal clear and incredibly powerful.
With an astounding 1,500 events happening at Melkweg every year, including numerous night-time DJ shows which all require good bass impact, it was imperative for the team to have a highly versatile system with interchangeable sub configurations that could be tweaked on any given night, according to the specific type of performance. Additionally, the system had to be rider-friendly, due to the high number of touring crews performing at the venue and using its in-house PA system.
The head of Melkweg’s technical team, Eugene van Dijk, explains how the installation of the new PA system became a topic. “We had been running our old sound system in The Max for over 10 years, and with our music programmes getting more and more diverse in style and genre, including bass-heavy DJ shows, we felt it was time for an upgrade so we could fully satisfy our roster of visiting crews and offer them the best-sounding PA system for their performances.”
To find the new audio system, the Melkweg technical team asked several audio suppliers to demo their offerings over a six-week period. “We listened to all the systems with a group of technicians and marked down all the pros and the cons of each system,” continues Van Dijk. “In the end, L-Acoustics, demoed by Audiobizz, was a clear winner for us as it delivered the best-sounding audio for the room.”
Following the successful presentation, Dutch AV integrator proceeded with design and deployment of the system in the venue.
The final set up comprises left/right main arrays of seven K2 per side, with Panflex set to 55 degrees on the inside and 35 degrees on the outside to avoid reflections from the side walls. For placing subwoofers, only three positions were available under the stage: one on either side, directly under the K2 arrays, and one in the center. The tight spaces allowed for three K1-SB on each side, and six SB18 in the centre. Having these three clusters of subs in a horizontal array offered the possibility to adjust the directivity of the bass frequencies through electronically altering the delay times between the inner and outer clusters, keeping the energy away from the bar on the side of the room and ensuring the staff feels comfortable over extended periods. For performances with a DJ booth placed in front of the stage, the center subs can be switched off if necessary. For infills, two ARCS WiFo per side are positioned in a horizontal array; their sharp directivity projecting energy to the fans, while keeping the stage itself clean. To deal with blind spots, nine 5XT cover HF on and below the side balconies. For the back of the venue, two X8 downstairs and two upstairs provide full-range coverage for the last five meters. All mains and subs are powered with nine LA12X amplified controllers, with the fills distributed via three LA4X.
Van Dijk notes that this is the most powerful system they’ve ever had at The Max: “It was the first time that such a configuration of speakers was used, but we are very happy we made that choice because it gives us all the low end we need for our multitude of performances.” And better still, the K2 has delivered ROI from the start. “People can check our house rider and see that the system we have in-house is one of the systems mentioned on almost every technical rider. Since it was installed, 100 percent of all visiting crews have used our in-house PA. This means that our investment in K2 started paying dividends from day one.”
“I’ve been a sound engineer for a long time, so I am very familiar with L-Acoustics and K2, which has now become an industry standard and it’s a fantastic system to work with,” concludes Van Dijk. “Everyone has been really happy with the system. When you have visiting crews entering the venue and being instantly impressed by your in-house PA, you know you’ve made the right choice.”