The first of a planned roll-out of 1 Rebel fitness studios in Saudi Arabia, 1Rebel Riyadh had contacted UK-based Middlesex Sound & Lighting (MSL) for handle a high-octane ‘club-spec’ technical infrastructure 16 months ago, only to be frustrated by the coronavirus outbreak. ‘We shipped the gear out to Riyadh in February last year, and the following month Covid struck,’ Project Manager Toby Jones confirms. ‘Rather than suspend the work, they decided to press ahead.’

Engaging local crews and communicating via video calls and different programming platforms, the sound systems were delivered and commissioned during a pre-Christmas break from lockdown.

1Rebel RiyadhA joint venture between 1Rebel in the UK (represented by James Balfour and Giles Dean) and Pulse Fitness Group’s Fahad Alhagbani and Nathan Clute, a number of 1Rebel venues have been extablished in London, all with Martin Audio BlacklineX loudspeakers.

‘We had already specified Martin Audio in other 1Rebel venues as they represent great value for money, and display tremendous sonic quality,’ Jones says.

Large quantities of Martin Audio Blackline X12, X10, X8 and X115 and SX212 subwoofers were supplied to the Riyadh location by local distributor Pro Lab, along with 16 Adorn A55 for the waiting, changing and reception areas.

1Rebel Riyadh boasts separate male and female studios (female being the larger). Each has its own clearly delineated fitness zones. Knowing that the spec needed to match the high intensity of these studios, with trainers curating their own playlists, Jones set to work on the original concept design with celebrated lighting designer Durham Marenghi.

Ride is the gym’s high workout Spin room, where 12 4m trusses are flown the length of the room. Two Blackline X115 subs are groundstacked to the left-hand side of the stage, with two Blackline X12 boxes, forming the FOH audio, are located on the truss above the instructor, and a single X12 in the centre of the truss as a reference monitor. Video panels in an ‘exploded’ format are located behind the instructor position and down both sides of the room. Meanwhile ten matched pairs of X10s and three SX212 subs are flown down the length of the room, offering the time-aligned delay boxes.

The level of intensity is automatically cued to the lighting. ‘The instructors have full control of the lighting by way of an interactive 22-inch touchscreen and become performers in their own right as well as handling the ops,’ says the MSL Project Manager.

Rubmle is the boxing studio, where eight wall-mounted Blackline X10 are distributed around the perimeter, with a pair of SX112 at either end of the room again providing high-level club sound. Reshape, used largely for treadmill running, cardio and box work, sees 15 Reshape X8 around the perimeter, with a pair of SX112 subwoofers on a central truss. Finally, the Functional Studio is for personal trainers, and is equipped a further eight Blackline X8 speakers and two single floor-mounted SX112 subs.

1Rebel RiyadhOther than Ride, the male studios are a mirror image of the female. All rooms have multiple touchscreens so can be controlled locally.

Control is handled in a BSS Soundweb London environment, and each room is fitted with an audio interface and equipped with Trantec radio mics. Because of the high humidity, MSL fabricated their own rotary analogue control panels, using custom fascia panels and military grade rotary pots.

Recalling the logistical challenges of remote implementation from more than 3,000 miles away, Jones says: ‘I was constantly sending wiring diagrams and FaceTiming with representatives in Saudi, while a local crew undertook the installation under our direction. We built all the racks, loaded them in the UK and air freighted them – around six tons of kit in all. We did all the audio testing remotely. It was insane.

‘The fact that we managed to pull it off was due to great teamwork. Ten years ago we couldn’t have achieved what we have, as the technology simply wasn’t around.’

‘We are extremely impressed with the quality of the system and level of execution,’ says Nathan Clute. ‘With our partners at Middlesex Sound & Lighting we were able to design and implement a bespoke solution using what we believe to be the best products in the market, to create something previously unseen; the front-end controls are simple and user-friendly, despite the technical complexity within the design.’

Delivering top-class audio had been a key objective: ‘As our clubs require us to deliver multiple experiences within a tight envelope, we needed an audio solution that allowed us to operate independent zones, each at different volume levels with different music genres.

‘Within our studios, we needed a solution that had the power to deliver intensity without distortion, with uniform coverage throughout, and with the ability to have clear vocals regardless of the volume. More often than not, operators try to overcome poor audio infrastructure with volume, which does nothing but distort the user experience. We selected Martin Audio due to their ability to present a clear and proven track record of similar solutions, and we were overwhelmingly satisfied with the system they delivered.’

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