Explaining what Z-Bau is to visitors can prove tricky. To call it a venue or a bar or a club is to do it a disservice. To call it an arts centre doesn’t fully describe the vibe or the ethos of the project.
Coming across it on a ring road round the city of Nuremberg you might drive straight past, so unassuming does it appear. Originally built as a Nazi barracks during the second world war, it’s an imposing but entirely forgettable building from the outside, and was used as an American military base until 1991. When the last soldiers finally left in the early 90s, the potential for a change of use finally was realised, as a variety of music related projects took up residence, including the sub-culture club and performance space Kunstverein.
However, this new creative use was to be relatively short-lived, as the mixed-use licence was revoked in 2011 and it took three more years until an agreement could be settled on to reopen the building with a view to more accessible mixed use.
Established less than a year ago in October 2015, with funding from a variety of sources including the Nuremberg City Council and the European Union, Z-Bau was born. Cited as a centre of contemporary culture for the city and beyond, it now hosts a club venue space with a capacity of 400, two bars and garden, a café, an underground music club, recording studios, art gallery space and some of the coolest green room and backstage facilities we have ever seen!
The underground bar and club at Z-Bau harks back to the more anarchic days of the Kunstverein (which has relocated to a new venue) with a raw, industrial aesthetic, and an eclectic music and performance line-up.
The difference this time round though, is that behind this aesthetic is a desire for the highest quality presentation – as Stefan Ludwig, the technical director, explains:
“Whilst the club’s style is unpretentious in every way – we have paid special attention to the installation of our audio system, with consultation from “into>noise” , who recommended we try out the new APA amplifiers from XTA. Using APA with CODA speakers, we have realised an installation system that has got to be one of the best sounding and most flexible I’ve ever worked with!”
The APAs were supplied by XTA’s long-standing German distributor United Brands, who were thrilled to be involved with this landmark installation. Wolfgang Garçon, managing director (formerly of Atlantic Audio), had this to say:
“As one of the first sizeable installs of APA in Germany, it was exciting to see this project come together. Whilst into>noise were responsible for the commissioning and consultation, we were always on hand to help out with details and make sure gear was there on time and performed as it should.”
“It’s all come together perfectly, and the quality of the install, as well as the sound, is superb! “, Wolfgang continued. “After the success of Z-Bau we are looking forward to introducing more of our customers to the power and flexibility that APA offers.”
As Z-Bau now make use of an outdoor performance space as well as the club and concert venues, Stefan needed the APA system to be reconfigurable to also run a system running outside as well as providing all the power for a serious club or concert system indoors.
Five APA drive the main systems for the club with a further APA being installed in a portable flightcase so that it can be reconfigured to perform outdoor duties when required. The “Roter Salon” underground bar comprises 4 x CODA Rx40 (Dual 12″ + Coax MF/HF) full range cabinets with a single U4 2 x 18″ sub for acoustic or smaller DJ shows driven by 2 x APA. The same main system was specified for the larger “Galerie” bar and venue,but augmented with four the U4 subs under the stage, all controlled and powered by three APA. Ten Coda G712-96 “multidesign” 3-way cabinets were used for monitors and outdoor main system purposes, with several delay and outfills via HOPS (CODA full range cabs), all taken care of by the last separately flight-cased APA and a couple of extra channels from the main system.
into>noise, a specialised audio installer based in Munich, were keen to explain how useful the remote control for the system [via a simple Ethernet connection] proved during the commissioning phase of the project.
Andi Zeh, engineering director, commented:
“Networking all the amplifiers together allowed me to quickly configure each part of the amp’s incredibly flexible DSP, and copy and paste settings with ease, ensuring no errors were made. Once all the set-up was complete, I was able to leave the day to day operators with a simple set of presets they could quickly recall from the APA’s front panel to change the use when required.”
Whilst analogue inputs were the current choice for Z-Bau, having the ability to upgrade to Dante audio networking for future use was both useful and reassuring to Andi:
“It’s a simple card to plug in and instantly we can break audio into digital, send it where we want, and process it across the network – especially useful if we need to feed audio from underground to overground!”
Stefan has been delighted with the results so far:
“Our one year anniversary is coming up this October, and this system just continues to sound amazing – the combination of this much power and at this quality level has just never seemed possible until now.”
Opening in 2018 will be the fully refurbished old cinema space, creating a concert venue with a capacity of upwards of 1000 as the second phase of the redevelopment is completed. With Z-Bau describing itself as a “House of Contemporary Culture is open to all people who reject all forms of discrimination”, you can never be sure what will be going on but you can be assured that it will sound amazing, thanks to APA.
*Images copyright www.z-bau.com