The Motown Sound... Web

A pair of BSS 9088 Soundwebs have been specified and installed into the Motown Cafe - in the new City Walk zone at Orlando's Universal Studios - by one of America's leading audio consultants, Ted Rothstein of TR Technologies in New York.

Rothstein, who has been installing audio visual systems since 1980 and has numerous Planet Hollywood and Hard Rock Cafe sites around the world to his credit, realised that the Soundweb would be perfect to plot the sound in the multi-zoned theme restaurant dedicated to the music and spirit of Tamla Motown.

Decorated with genuine artefacts of Motown memorabilia, the 300 capacity Cafe is the third TR Technologies have worked on, having been heavily involved in the inaugural venue in New York, and more tangentially at number two in Las Vegas.

The programme alternates computer sourced playback Motown classics with Motown tribute acts singing to freshly mixed backing tracks.

Describing himself as "a conceptual AV systems designer" Ted Rothstein says he was impressed with Soundweb after receiving a demo by BSS. The Motown Cafe initiative was started by the Motown Cafe Corporation, a private corporation featuring various groups and including Motown Records as a partner.

The main inspiration behind the concept is Brian Daneman, formerly with the Planet Hollywood Group, who left to pursue an independent project, which duly metamorphosed into Motown Cafe. He, in turn, selected Jay Haverson to plan the architecture and Ted Rothstein the AV content.

"They requested tenders for the Orlando project and although we were far from being the lowest bidder we were selected on the strength of our pedigree and reputation," exclaimed Rothstein.

Motown Cafe comprises numerous sound and video zones on various floors. Key locations are the DJ booth and amp room at rear-of-house, conveniently sited to minimise the speaker wiring. A Soundweb is situated at each location, linked by Category 5 cable which, according to Ted Rothstein, delivers a perfect signal to the loudspeakers - predominantly JBL Soundpower and Marquis Series, concealed subs and Speakercraft ceiling speakers.

"In the first Soundweb at the DJ end we are doing all the paging and ducking, to present lower levels, as well as the filtering and expanding. Also contained on this Soundweb are the subwoofer crossover and lo-pass filtering, the matrix routing for sending pink noise to each area for set-up purposes, and the fire alarm muting."

He is particularly impressed at the way in which he was able to design this last function into Soundweb. "We worked out a way to get a signal from the fire alarm to shut the audio down without doing a hand switch off. I wanted a soft fade out and soft fade in, and I could only achieve this easily via the Soundweb," explained Rothstein. "I didn't have to buy an interface or a relay - I just plugged Soundweb right in and it would do the soft mute."

On the second Soundweb are stored the EQ and gain adjust as well as processors and limiters for protection of all the zone outputs. "Everything is run in stereo," explained Rothstein, "but having run out of processor power in the first Soundweb I needed to do the mic preamp for the several paging mics on the second Soundweb. I used network connection so that while I have the eight channels of zones from the first to the second Soundweb and into the amplifiers, I also have the paging mic signals going in the opposite direction, carried on the same Category 5 cable."

Since specifying Soundweb on the Motown Cafe project Ted Rothstein has had occasion to turn to Soundweb on two further occasions.

"The first two systems were home stereo systems - one for home theatre, the other a multi-room home system. This time I'm using a 9088 to switch between four different stereo sources going to four different zones, each with its own EQ. We are using the control inputs to select the various presets to switch different sources to different zones, and the outputs to trigger a light to indicate which sources are selected."

"In another private installation I'm EQing six channels driving six speakers, and I have a system that operates in two different directions, with two centre channels and the other four speakers becoming multi-purpose ... so I have a West and a South button and the whole room 'rotates' using the matrix router in the Soundweb. It 'flips' the room around depending on what TV you are watching."

The next 9088 Soundweb will go into a project for leading film score composer, Carter Burwell. "We are working on a new studio for him in New York City in combination with his residence, and Soundweb will probably be used on the monitor system in the studio. The rear channels will be done on one Soundweb, used as a crossover for the studio monitor system, while the crossover for the Front/Right/Left/Centre and Sub loudspeaker configuration in the residential part will also be done on Soundweb."

Coming up for Rothstein as well is a large family entertainment centre including two ice skating rinks, various restaurants and other amusement facilities. Ted's preliminary design uses one Soundweb 9000 HUB and four Soundweb 9088 processors. Complex, multi-zone paging as well as distribution of many stereo sources to many zones and fire alarm soft muting will all be done with these five units.

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