One8 Commune Kolkata, India

Hurrairah bin Sohail speaks with Vijay Sinha about how Pink Noise Professionals outfitted this hospitality venue with a Workpro speaker system that fits the ambience and aesthetic of the space.

Virat Kohli, the famous, Indian cricketer, has his own brand for the hospitality and F&B market in the form of One8 Commune. Vijay Sinha, director of sales and marketing at Pink Noise Professionals, details: “One8 Commune started with a restaurant in Aerocity Delhi about two years ago and now it is looking to leverage that success to expand across India. There are other restaurant planned for Delhi as well as for Pune and Bangalore. But one of the most recent additions to the chain is One8 Commune Kolkata.”

Pink Noise Professionals was selected to provide a turnkey technology solution for One8 Commune Kolkata and Vijay says: “We have a professional relationship with the brand promoter, and they reached out to us to discuss how Pink Noise Professionals could provide sound solutions for the venue. We started with the designs, got the drawings for the space, and understood the requirements. One8 Commune is meant to be a casual bar and a dining space, but it also has a stage for live band performances or a DJ. So, we roughly knew how much volume would be required, and the energy that would be needed. We used these pieces of information to guide our design, choose the speaker positioning and the select the speaker models.”

It was smooth sailing at the start as Vijay says: “The design process was simple. We submitted the speaker layout and positioning, and it was approved without any issues. I think one point that was highlighted was that there would be a chandelier that would disturb the output from certain speakers and so we just adjusted the positioning, and everything was good to go.”

However, there are nuances that need to be considered when working for a hospitality venue as an AV professional. Vijay explains: “The primary requirement for F&B is always going to be food and drink. They want to serve customers and everything else feeds into that. So, the interior décor and ambience of the place is very important, and technology takes a backseat. AV has to help build the ambience and the vibe, but we can’t really take priority. For example, we can advise on how to make the space better in terms of acoustics, but the interior décor will be chosen based on the decisions of the operator. Most of the time AV has to work with the space and décor that are provided.”

Vijay’s opinions are proven valid by Pink Noise Professionals’ experience at One8 Commune Kolkata. Vijay says: “One8 Commune Kolkata was an acoustically challenging space. There is a lot of glass used as part of the interior décor, it is present on both sides of the bar, and there is also a large window that showcases the ambience and the vibe inside the venue. In addition, there is a dome-shaped ceiling that further complicates the acoustic properties and introduces challenges such as standing waves and making it more difficult to achieve even sound dispersion.”

Pink Noise Professionals powered on, and Vijay elaborates: “Knowing that the audio requirements were based around live band and DJ, we knew that we needed flexible and powerful speakers. We chose to go with Workpro 15-in speakers and dual Workpro 18-in subwoofers at the stage area. We deployed two subwoofers because of the low-end requirements.

Essentially, the two 15-in speakers and two 18-in subwoofers perform 60% of the audio job in the space.” He continues: “The rest of the 40% is handled by Workpro 10-in speakers that have been deployed along the rectangular space away from the stage to provide fill and ensure even coverage. The 10-in speakers are mounted on the sidewalls, and their job is to fill the sound. We just had to make sure that the speakers were timed correctly and matched the output from the speakers on the stage so that the diners could get a great audio experience. To the diners, it just seems like all the audio is coming from the stage itself. We’ve paid special attention to volume levels across the entire space, with the area near the stage being the focus as that is where people will be congregating to enjoy the music. The dining area is being provided with sound that is not too intrusive but still present and enjoyable.”

The selection of the speaker for One8 Commune Kolkata was a considered decision and Vijay sheds light on how and why it was made: “Workpro speakers were chosen for their price to performance ratio and because they fit in nicely with One8 Commune’s requirements. This isn’t a club or an artist-based venue, they’re not attracting patrons through musicians or artist residencies. One8 Commune has a straightforward approach for F&B, its hook or strong point is its food and ambience and vibe. There is no technology, no displays and just the audio system which helps enforce the ambience. So, any speaker that was selected had to fit in with this and the Workpro speakers did just that. In addition, we knew from experience that reliability is essential for hospitality and F&B. It is not easy to shut venues down for repairs. And from our own point of view, we wanted to make sure that post-sales services and maintenance work was reduced. The Workpro was the perfect speaker for all these considerations.”

Regarding the challenges faced, Vijay narrates: “While the design and installation went smoothly, the main challenge of the project actually came after the venue began operations. Within one month of operation, One8 Commune decided to make some changes to the space, furniture placement and general layout. As you can imagine, this completely changed the audio in the venue. Once the layout was settled, we retuned the entire audio system so that they could still get the great audio experience they wanted.”

He continues: “To be honest, the sound texture for the space was essential, and the time of operation helped them gather more information regarding the kind of audio they wanted. The primary differences between the sound setup for a live band and a DJ are around power and the headroom for the midsection, and the high frequencies for vocals. A live band wants to make sure the midsection is prominent and that there is no distortion on the drums. But a DJ prefers a bit more focus on the low end and bass, depending on the kind of music they want to play. Once these kind of music performances occurred, we got more data and we were able to tune the system to be able to accommodate both of these settings.”

Vijay says: “Future One8 Commune projects are underway and are being constructed. We’re in discussion on handling these projects as well and providing them with audio solutions.” He concludes with a message of optimism: “The hospitality and F&B industry is making a comeback but it is not back to exactly pre-Covid levels. We are seeing more venues coming up in multiple cities and the crowds are returning. While we still have to proceed with caution because the Covid-19 situation is fluid, I think one thing everyone agrees on is that people want to go out and enjoy themselves and the demand is most certainly there which is why we are starting to see investment in F&B infrastructure and venues.

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