Located on Chapel Street in Melbourne’s South Yarra, Pawn & Co. is a quirky venue where everything is for sale — be it the chair you’re sitting on, to the glass you’re sipping from. It’s also a fully functioning bar and hospitality venue that can host your corporate dinner, bucks party, or cocktail night. The antiquated, 1920s-themed interior is lavish and eccentric.
“It’s a novel concept,” says Josh Lefers, one of Pawn & Co.’s directors. “If you want to interact with the pawn shop aspect of the venue then you’re more than welcome. It’s 2am, you’re there with your date and you spot a trumpet. Buy it; play it. That’s fun. But you don’t have to interact. Fundamentally, Pawn & Co. is a bar and a really good one at that. Our mission is to help you have a fun time in our venue. So it’s not enough to have a cool idea or a strong concept, you have to back it up with great execution, and we have the team to pull that off.”
The nightclub area of Pawn & Co. often sees international DJs and artists passing thought to perform. As the Pawn & Co. star rose, and as it became increasingly attractive to bigger name DJs, they knew they needed to up their audio game. Sound reproduction in this area was previously underwhelming, especially in the low frequencies. Then there was the ongoing issue of disturbing the neighbours — especially when the dance floor is rocking into the wee hours of the morning.
Previously, the roof had very little acoustic treatment. Dave Cuthbertson, a professional acoustician, was brought in to commission a floating ceiling and decoupled the whole room for better isolation and noise control. Josh Lefers says, “We spent quite a bit of money we didn’t reckon on, getting this place soundproofed to a degree. We were determined to be great neighbours.”
The PA design is a cracker. Downstairs a pair of full range dB Technologies DVX D12 HP 12-inch loudspeakers cover the main area. They’re inverted to allow the HF horn to shoot under the steampunk creative fixed to the low-ish ceiling. Two d&b 27A passive cardioid subs fill out the bottom end. The subs back on to the foyer and the cardioid design means the front entrance is spared most of the sub output. Often cardioid sub setups require multiple boxes and processing, the 27A does it all in the one enclosure, which is nifty. A d&b 30D amplifier powers the PA.
The foyer has a couple of dB Technologies LVX 8 eight-inch two-way loudspeakers addressed as its own zone and independently delayed to be in sync with the ground floor DJ output or upstairs if the headline DJ is taking over the venue’s sound.
All the zoning and processing is managed by an Ashly DSP which was existing – about $3000 worth of processing sitting in the cupboard from the previous tenant which was welcome.
The upstairs, main, room boasts a top spec d&b rig. Y7P full-range loudspeakers do most of the work. Four d&b 18-S subs provide all the low-end grunt you could ever want. They’re flanked by another pair of dB Technologies DVX D12 HPs facing the DJ. “Originally the design was to have the DJ booth to the side,” recalled Jason Rooney. “We spec’ed four subs in order to electronically steer the low end away from the front wall. The position of the booth is now, more conventionally, shooting sound down the length of the room. So four subs is overkill but it’s a happy problem to have.”
With the help of ArrayCalc wizardry, Chris Braun and Dave Jacques from the NAS Projects Team commissioned the d&b system for optimal sound in every spot throughout the space.
Pawn & Co.’s previous upgrade saw them move to d&b audio, but the team still did their due diligence and auditioned a handful of other premium alternatives. They came back to d&b. The gear has already seen its fair share of use and it’s raking in the positive feedback. For a bar PA, it’s up there with the best.
Lefers sees the benefits in investing in high-quality audio: “There’s a level of quality you need to provide when you’re attracting ‘name’ DJs. Admittedly we’re a bar, not a festival or a nightclub, but great audio is still non-negotiable.”