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The Blues Kitchen Brixton Upgrades Audio

Blues Kitchen

Middlesex Sound & Lighting (MSL) recently completed the latest in a long line of technical renovations for London-based restaurant and nightclub operators, the Columbo Group, with the opening of the latest The Blues Kitchen in Brixton. Faced with live music stages on two floors (instead of one), MSL Project Director Darrel Olivier opted for Martin Audio’s compact and hybrid W8VDQ, run in biamp mode, for the main first floor stage in the 650-capacity venue.

The system combines line array and differential dispersion technologies to provide even coverage and meet the operators’ requirements for a higher specification in order to encourage established promoters and bands to use the venue, according to Creative Director Liam Hart. “We have a really good relationship with MSL,” he stated. “We have worked with them for close to five years and they have always spec’d our venues honestly.”

With numerous venues, including The Nest, XOYO, Paradise, Blues Kitchen Shoreditch, Paradise, Cat & Mutton, The Old Queen’s Head and Phonox under their belts, the Columbo Group has wide experience in providing sound systems for both bands and DJs alike. In addition to retaining some of the existing equipment from the previous setup, they have also invested heavily in soundproofing in Brixton to ensure that there is no sound escape into the neighboring houses.

According to Olivier, the sound system at The Blues Kitchen, Brixton needed to serve both purposes, switching between the presets on the Soundweb London DSP.

Upstairs, a pair of flown W8VDQ’s is complemented by four WS218X, twin 18-inch subs, recessed under the stage for its seven-nights-a-week operation. Two thirds of the way back is a second pair of delayed W8VDQs, strategically aimed to provide infills and maintain even pattern control.


Downstairs in the bar/restaurant is a smaller stage where the sound is delivered via Martin Audio’s new CDD installation series, using Coaxial Differential Dispersion technology. Olivier has specified eight CDD8 (eight-inch) speakers and three CSX112 (1×12-inch) direct radiating subs. Additional CDD5s can be found in the restrooms, and the whole system is driven by Powersoft amplification.

With a high demand on I/O count, MSL has set up a 24×24-channel routing matrix in the DSP to allow any source to be distributed to any zone in the venue, with Soundcraft digital consoles forming part of the specification on each floor. MSL also made a generous provision of plugin points, enabling iPods to be used at will, as well as providing all the stage production lighting.

But according to Liam Hart you can’t build a business on the live music program alone and, as with the previous two venues, Brixton’s Blues Kitchen will offer Texas BBQ and a huge selection of bourbon.

“We want to be known as more than a big gig space; we want [the clientele] to fall in love with the space and come back regardless of who’s playing. We want them to have a love affair with the venue.”

Nevertheless, the music will remain faithful to its roots, and incorporate blues, R&B, soul and reggae.

“With multiple bands and DJs the operation is running seamlessly,” Oliver stated. “A simple switch between the system presets enables our resident soul band’s sound engineer to plug his show file into the sound desk without the need for a sound check.”

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