This story was produced and published by mondo*dr magazine and reproduced here with the kind permission of the magazine’s editor.
Despite being open for over 15 years, Lux Fragil is still a popular party hotspot in Lisbon. It was recently treated to an audio upgrade that included XTA’s new APA Series and Funktion One’s new Evo Series.
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.
Working with only the best quality materials to furnish and fit the interior, and with amazing attention to detail, Lux Fragil 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 Malkovich and Catherine Deneuve, and is still seen, 16 years on, as one of Europe’s most fashionable night spots.
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 dancefloor at ground level, and a rooftop looking out over the city and river Alfama. The décor 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! The venue is also particularly proud of its Brazilian hardwood dancefloor – a true luxury that has stood the test of time and now looks awesome after some years of ‘partying-in’.
However, whilst some aspects of the interior have become better with age, such as that dancefloor, 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 dancefloor, 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.
Time hasn’t stood still, and to bring the club’s main dancefloor 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 Evo 7E system, and augmenting this with more subwoofers, has gone hand-in-hand with the need for new processing and amplification.
Chris spoke first about the 2006 refit: “The first install 10 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 10 years.”
Moving forward to today, this is where XTA’s new APA Series comes in – powering both the Evo 7E system and the new BR221 subwoofers. Two Evo 7E loudspeakers and two BR221 subwoofers either side of the DJ booth are powered by an APA, with additional F218 cabinets distributed around the venue being powered by MC2 E45 amplifiers and XTA DP448 processing.
Side fills, rear fills and DJ monitors are all take care of by Funktion One Resolution 2’s and once again more MC2 E Series amplifiers and XTA processors.
In the bar area, 12 Resolution 1’s and four Resolution 1.5SH enclosures, 12 F88 loudspeakers and 10 MB212’s are powered by four of Full Fat Audio’s new FFA4004DSP G2 amplifiers, two Full Fat Audio FFA6004’s and a single Full Fat Audio FFA4004.
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,” he commented. “Downstairs in the main dancefloor 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 dancefloor, the acoustics are still superb, and doubtless even better when the room is full of people.”
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 DJs 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 15 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.”
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!”