Audio Luxury for Lisbon: Lux Fragil and APA

Posted by | November 16, 2015 | , | No Comments

When Lux Fragil opened its doors back in 1999, it transformed the listed building along the Lisbon docklands from a sadly underused shipping silo into the top nightclub in the capital, and arguably one of the best clubs in mainland Europe.

First floor lounge DJ area opens out onto a terrace along two sides looking out across the river estuary.

First floor lounge DJ area opens out onto a terrace along two sides looking out across the river estuary.

Working with only the best quality materials to furnish and fit the interior, and with amazing attention to detail, Lux lives up to its name by choosing high design and enviable style, aspiring to a level that has attracted celebrities such as Cameron Diaz and Prince over the years.
Indeed it is part owned by actors John Malkowitz and Catherine Deneuve , and is still seen, sixteen years on, as one of Europe’s most fashionable night spots.

Upstairs to the roof terrace with panoramic views over Lisbon's harbour.

Upstairs to the roof terrace with panoramic views over Lisbon’s harbour.

Over three levels, it offers a main first floor bar and lounge with a terrace that encompasses two sides of the building offering stunning panoramic views, a large dance floor at ground level, and a rooftop b looking out over the city and river Alfama. The decor in the main bar and lounge is kept fresh by contemporary artists’ installations – the controversial huge chandelier (a temporary fixture!) completely made of tampons remains one of the most talked about! They are also particularly proud of their Brazilian hardwood dance floor – a true luxury that has stood the test of time and now looks awesome after some years of “partying-in”.

That hardwood dancefloor, and the new Funktion One subs and Evo system.

That hardwood dancefloor, and the new Funktion One subs and Evo system.

However, whilst some aspects of the interior get better with age, such as that dance floor, technology is always progressing and none quicker than audio – the beating heart of any club.
In 2006 the club had an extensive refit including a cutting-edge Funktion One system for the main bar, lounge and dance floor, powered by a combination of MC2 amplification and XTA processing, with some of the less demanding areas (such as lounge fills) utilising some of the original equipment.

Main bar in the lounger on first floor has F1 fills.

Main bar in the lounger on first floor has F1 fills.

Time hasn’t stood still, and to bring the club’s main dance floor system right up to date, a refit has been designed, specified and overseen every step of the way by Chris Hawkes, owner of Solution One audio specialists based in France. Swapping out the Funktion One Resolution system for a new Evo6 system, and augmenting this with more subs, has gone hand in hand with the need for new processing and amplification.

When only the best quality will be accepted - APAs are in charge of the main dancefloor system.

When only the best quality will be accepted – APAs are in charge of the main dancefloor system.

Chris spoke first about the 2006 refit – “The first install ten years ago was radical at the time, not only because of the quality level of the equipment used, but also due to the care and attention the club took in soundproofing and room treatment. With this update, we needed to ensure that not only was there going to be a step change in quality, but that we would be installing equipment capable of performing at such high levels (quality-wise) for another ten years.”
Moving forward to today, this is where APA comes in – powering both the Evo6 system and the new BR221 subs. Two Evo6 and two BR221 a side are powered by an APA, with additional F218s being powered by MC2 E Series amps and XTA DP448 processing. Rear bar delays (Res2s) are powered by XO2 processors (XTA DP426) and E Series amplification.

Waring Hayes, Technical Brand Manager from XTA, flew to Lisbon to help with the commissioning of the APA amplifiers. He was also surprised by the attention to detail and quality of the current set-up.
“Whilst the main bar is a very dynamic and exciting space, it’s acoustically quite challenging, due to the concrete floor and large areas of glass – you don’t need a massive amount of power in a room like this to get it going and potentially sounding messy – keeping things under control is the key. Downstairs in the main dance floor area it’s a whole different situation. The room sounds great even before you play anything! It’s a little like moving from the pool to the library. It’s incredibly well treated – despite having the beautiful hardwood dance floor, the acoustics are still superb, and doubtless even better when the room is full of people.”

A pair of APA is all it takes to control, process and power a whole club system!

A pair of APA is all it takes to control, process and power a whole club system!

Chris commented on the choice of amplification for this high-status setting:
“APA was chosen to drive the new Evo system for its audio quality as well as its power and flexibility. Set-up on a mac in the middle of the room with a single Ethernet cable was simple and easy. The precise tuning of the processing in the APA was quick and the results are stunning.”

Visiting DJ’s are treated to a level of luxury with the quality of the equipment and even their own bathroom beside the DJ booth. Waring was impressed by the efforts made to ensure all the equipment was well installed and maintained:

“I’ve never seen such a clean and professional working environment for both the gear and the DJs – and this is over fifteen years on from first opening! The APA installation was perfect and the final result, even before fine tuning, was fantastic – studio quality, club power, with great coverage throughout the room. ”

Lux Fr‡gil, Cais da Pedra, Lisboa 28.3.2013. © Luisa Ferreira

View from DJ Booth across main dancefloor. © Luisa Ferreira

Chris summarised the refit:
“We’ve been planning this for about a year and Solution One have been working closely with the club, but things really ramped up in the last four weeks. The guys at Lux are brilliant to work with – such a helpful attitude and a really positive outlook. Waring flew out at short notice to offer his invaluable help and everyone pulled together to finish on time. The result isn’t just an audiophile’s system – it’s been recognised by both DJs and clubbers alike, commenting on how much they love the change up in quality – big smiles all round!”