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Sydney’s Abercrombie Reborn with World-First Mezzo A+ Install

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Powersoft’s new AES67-enabled amplifier platforms, including the enhanced A+ versions of its innovative, half-size Mezzo range, have made their global debut at the recently reopened Abercrombie hotel in Sydney, Australia.

The Abercrombie, located in the inner-Sydney suburb of Chippendale, traces its roots back to 1843, when it opened as the Australian Inn. The current, art-deco building, on the old Carlton United Brewery site, was completed in 1938 and served as a much-loved watering hole and live entertainment venue until its closure in 2014. It was acquired by hospitality group Solotel in 2016 and reopened – two years late, as a result of Sydney’s on-off coronavirus lockdowns – with a 36-hour launch party in December 2022.

The new-look Abercrombie comprises three venues: A ground-floor club space, public bar and beer garden; late-night cocktail lounge and rooftop terrace Casa Rosa; and Lil Sis, a aperitivo wine bar inspired by the caves à vin of Paris.

Tasked with delivering a state-of-the-art AV system worthy of the Abercrombie’s multimillion-dollar redevelopment were Production Audio Video Technology (PAVT), Australian distributor for Powersoft, EAW, AtlasIED, Symetrix and Radio Design Labs, and local system integrator BeyondAV, who inherited “a very difficult acoustic environment” complicated both by the age of the property (the Abercrombie has been a listed building since 1989) and the presence of new residential buildings around it, explains PAVT’s business development manager, Dave Coxon. “Revitalising old buildings always a fun, with unique challenges,” he says. “A major challenge with the Abercrombie was containing all the sound – patrons, voices and music – as, unlike in days of old, the venue is now surrounded by accommodation. It’s the only freestanding hotel I have ever seen with an apartment complex freestanding over the venue!”

Additionally, he adds, the Abercrombie’s original hotel rooms “remain in the upper two levels, creating many small spaces requiring multiple amp channels”.

Amplification is Powersoft throughout, comprising 16 Mezzo 604 A+ and 13 Quattrocanali 1204 DSP+ amplifiers, all AES67 compatible, as well as two high-performance X8s. The Powersoft amplifiers, explains Coxon, are installed in two rack rooms, with all equipment (plus NETGEAR AV switches) fitting into a single rack at each location. Needing a “truly waterproof” loudspeaker for the two large outdoor areas, PAVT specified a combination AtlasIED’s SM82 range with EAW subwoofers (SB120/150 WP), while a Function One EVO X system was installed in the main room.

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The new A+ models are the latest additions to the Mezzo range, which offers the the same reliability, build quality and acoustic character of larger Powersoft amplifier platforms but in a half-size form factor. A+ models – comprising Mezzo 322 A+, Mezzo 304 A+, Mezzo 602 A+ and Mezzo 604 A+ – offer all the remote control and monitoring functions of the A versions, but further extend their networking capabilities with AES67. The A+ range joins the Duecanali DSP+ and Quattrocanali DSP+ fixed-install amplifier platforms and the T Series touring amplifier in offering AES67 compatibility.

These models are able to receive audio-over-IP (AoIP) streams compliant with the AES67 standard, which allows high-performance streaming AoIP interoperability across different networking systems. Powersoft A+ and DSP+ models can receive AES67 streams natively by connecting the dedicated AoIP networking port to an AES67 network.

Coxon is full of praise for Powersoft, describing its introduction of the AoIP-enabled models as “a godsend” after years of delays on the Abercrombie and other projects. “With this project delayed over two years due to Covid and delivery in the heat of the component shortage, Powersoft’s quick development migrating to AES67 has kept projects going,” he comments.

While it’s not always straightforward being an early adopter of new technology, the Powersoft A+/DSP+ amplifiers were crucial to realising the relaunched Abercrombie, Coxon concludes, which opened on schedule with a spectacular a multi-day launch party featuring some of Sydney’s hottest DJs. “Being the first project to install A+ versions of the amplifier – and with the release of the ArmoníaPlus 2.5 update, which added support for AES67, coming three days before handover – made life fun!” he recalls. “That said, we had no major issues, and the project opened on time – tuned and loud – with a 36-hour opening party.”

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