Lab.gruppen the perfect choice for flagship Hoxton venue

Hoxton is one of London’s trendiest boroughs. It comes as no surprise then that the Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen is one of the MAMA Group’s most popular live music venues, and is also one of the first venues to have Lab.gruppen’s IPD Series installed, part of a fully integrated solution from TC Group that also features PLM Series, as well as a range of premium loudspeakers from Tannoy. 

The Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen sits just off Old Street in Hoxton Square, and is a multi-room venue: there’s the main bar, a second bar and restaurant area, and then the venue itself, which looks as impressive as it sounds thanks to some state-of-the art lighting fixtures, courtesy of Utopium Lighting.

Entertainment giant MAMA Group acquired the venue earlier this year and appointed Andy Huffer and his HD Pro Audio team to upgrade the sound system. While the task went from enquiry to completion in three months, the installation for the restaurant, bar and main venue only took five days, reports Huffer.

According to MAMA Group’s head of property, Archie McIntosh, it was a “real bonus” working with people he’s known and trusted for so long. “This is my first [time], so to speak, with TC Group; it’s a great company, and I know the guys well. They led me to the waters and I drank, basically, and the reaction from the engineers and punters has been excellent,” he says, referring to TC Group’s Paul McMullan and Scott Wakelin. “People used to turn up here and ask to change the rig, but there is no request for that now.”

The PA in the main venue is centred around a pair of Tannoy VQ 100s, with low-end reinforcement provided by an accompanying pair of Tannoy VS 218DR Bass enclosures. Monitoring comes courtesy of seven Tannoy VX 15HPs (tuned for live use) and one VSX 15DR; and the Lab.gruppen contingency includes a PLM 10000Q, a PLM 20000Q, and eight IPD 2400s. Furthermore, additional Tannoy and Lab equipment is deployed in the restaurant and bar area: there are 12 Tannoy Di 8DCs and three Lab.gruppen E 8:2s.

The project is one of the first “integrated installs” for TC Group, combing the new IPD amps with the Tannoy kit.

“I think we have exceeded people’s expectations with TC Group,” smiles Archie McIntosh. “And there’s an awful lot of badge snobbery, but on a blind test you’d get people coming in here saying ‘Yep, that’s a great sound’. The kit is very versatile too – we have club nights at weekends here, and bands during the week, and everything sounds great through it.”

A Behringer X32 is the console of choice at FOH, and system control for the venue is achieved via a Symetrix Solus 8 with ARC-2e wall control – for the restaurant and bar area, a dbx ZonePro 640 does the job.

Tannoy’s Paul McMullan has worked with McIntosh for more than 10 years on various projects, and says focus on providing the best in-house production as possible has always been his absolute top priority. “Although Hoxton is a lot more intimate than some of Archie’s other projects, this is certainly no exception; the VQ system - powered by PLM Series - provides incredible intelligibility with an authoritative low end performance,” he says. “Add to that the fact that the entire venue is driven by Lab.gruppen amplifiers, and it’s clear that he has again guaranteed great sound and proven reliability. In short, it’s a fantastic job.”

Undertaking a project such as this, McIntosh concurs that, while access to state-of-the-art kit is fine, relationships are just as important, perhaps more so.

“With Scott and Paul, you get a real high level of service – you know that if something has failed in there, it will be shipped overnight to us – it’s that level of service that some companies don’t have the capacity to deliver,” he explains. “There’s a bigger picture with us, but we cater from the grass roots to the very top, and I want people to look at anything I do and say ‘This is going to be great’; it’s the same with the crew and people you’re servicing: if something breaks, tell me and we’ll fix it.

“For people to walk through our doors and say ‘this is a pleasure’ is much harder at this level than further up the ladder, but we’re proud to say we’ve done that and more here in Hoxton.”

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