Climbing walls provide a unique challenge for AV integrators. On the one hand they are filled with unusual angles and columns that can play havoc with even coverage. While on the other, they are covered with soft matting that is excellent for acoustics.
Maximising the benefits of the flooring while overcoming the challenges of the space is something that comes with knowledge and experience. Having already installed sound systems for a variety of climbing walls, such as The Nest in Hayes and Beta Boulders in Copenhagen, and having climbers as key team members, Flipside Soundsystem understands how to make the best atmosphere for a space.
Climbing is about solving problems. You can spend hours working on a particular bouldering challenge so you need an environment where you can focus. As such, getting the right atmosphere in a climbing gym can be the difference between repeat business with people regularly choosing to spend time at your facility and developing a bad reputation where people will want to be somewhere else.
This element can be seen most prominently at venues that have multiple different uses. Fitness businesses make a significant proportion of additional revenue from people who come for the sport and then stay on for the café. If the environment created is not enjoyable, people will never choose to stay any longer than they have to.
There are multiple ways that businesses can solve this problem, but one of the easiest is by making sure that the venue actually sounds good. If a facility is loud, but you can’t really understand the music that is playing, you are not going to generate a good atmosphere.
Filling the space
This was the issue faced by Yonder in London. The facility is home to a double height climbing wall as well as a yoga studio and café, but despite the attraction of what it had to offer, people were choosing to leave directly after their session. “We were not seeing enough people wanting to hang around afterwards,” recalls Josh Glanvill, Communications & Community Manager at Yonder. “Instead they were heading off to the tap rooms that have opened up in the area because they could sit in a big warehouse with booming music or go around the corner to a nicer environment.
“We had an old system that was part of a rig for raves and warehouse parties and it just wasn’t fit for purpose,” continues Glanvill. “We’ve got a big space that we need to fill and it meant that the sound would bounce around, it was really low end heavy and it wasn’t balanced properly. That meant that we were getting complaints because to be able to hear the music from the big sound system, you had to have it louder.”
Climbing walls can present particular challenges, so Yonder opted to work with a company that understood the needs and difficulties presented by these unique venues – Flipside Soundsystem. “The Flipside team are climbers and understand the space and what people are looking for,” says Glanvill. “We wanted a sound system that was going to be more suitable for this kind of space and something that was going to be more directional and they absolutely delivered on what we wanted.”
“It was really nice to be given the opportunity to put something in that’s basically just a fairly simple distributed sound system that at least was designed for the space,” adds James Cooper, Managing Director at Flipside. “It covers all of the areas nicely to actually give you decent audio quality throughout the space, which is quite an unusual broken up space.”
A seamless solution
The solution revolves around Yamaha VS6W and VS4W loudspeakers with control via the manufacturer’s MTX3. In addition, there is a Sonance PS-P63T pendant speaker that was selected to solve a specific problem. “We’ve installed a single pendant speaker in the middle of the room because there is absolutely no other way to cover it,” explains Cooper. “It’s just about designing the system for the space and height was a challenge in there, hence the pendant speaker. You do have a lot of wall space and you’ve got upright columns in there, but the central area was tricky. It is just shooting that sound straight down into the mat, but it meant that there is a really nice spread. When you’re walking round it’s really seamless.”
These have brought smooth, even coverage throughout the venue and crucially, simple control for the team who work there every day. “The controls are so much simpler,” states Glanvill. “The staff are much happier too. They are not worrying about fixing issues, all they need to worry about is pressing play.”
The result has seen a much-improved experience for Yonder’s customers. “The feedback from the customers is that they can hear the music,” says Glanvill. “Before it would be rare to see climbers having a little dance because they couldn’t really hear the music, just background noise. Now, we get really clear definition and you can hear which song is on. It means we can play a wider variety of music as well, it doesn’t just have to be bass heavy stuff.”
Enjoying the atmosphere
Taking this simple step of installing a professional sound system that has been designed for the purpose has led to a major benefit for Yonder. “We now have the ability to have seamless events between the climbing space and the café,” explains Glanvill. “People can be climbing and we can have a DJ on and that will seamlessly move into bar time after their climbing session. Having a good atmosphere like that is going to be good for us.
“Now there is more of an incentive to stay and I think that once we can do our events again, that’s when it will come into its own,” he continues. “All of that is going to make a huge change in how people are going to want to stick around afterwards.”
The main benefit though has come from the noise levels outside the building. “There’s been no comment on the noise since so we think they can’t hear it anymore, which is absolutely one of the things we wanted to make a mark with,” reflects Glanvill. “It’s really helping with our relationships with our neighbours, we’re getting on a lot better with them.”
- X1 Yamaha MTX3
- X3 Yamaha DCP1V4SEU
- X1 Yamaha DCP4SEU
- X4 Steel Back Box Single Gang White
- X1 Audac CAP424
- X1 Wall Mount Rack 600mm Deep 6U Grey
- X1 1U FS Blanking Panel Rack 13A Power Bar
- X3 Yamaha VS6W [PAIR]
- X1 Yamaha VS4W [PAIR]