Document Sample
					Vol. 52 No. 7                                   July 17, 2006

PARADISE                                    INSIDE:
                                         21st ANNUAL
A WHOLE NEW ‘WORLD.’                    COMMERCIAL
SNMP: SIMPLE?                                 SURVEY

                SELLING A
                & FITCH’S NYC FLAGSHIP STORE.
                                                 “Surround sound” is part of the environment, yet its source is “invisible.”
                                                     Subwoofers are hidden in the wooden cabinetry throughout the store,
                                                                to further the Abercrombie & Fitch shopping experience.

Audio outfits Abercrombie & Fitch’s NYC flagship store.

  In the past 114 years, Abercrombie & Fitch has developed a reputation as a           That doesn’t mean the music is rel-
retailer of rugged, high-quality clothing. The company’s tagline, “Casual            egated to the background, however.
Luxury,” says it all. For those who prefer the brand, Abercrombie & Fitch is         On the contrary, Essential Communi-
not just a wardrobe staple, it’s a lifestyle.                                        cations president David Schwartz has
  In the company’s new 36,000-square-foot agship store on Fifth Avenue in            noted an industry trend of audio being
New York City, an audio system speci ed, designed and installed by New York-         used in the foreground rather than in
based AV designer and integrator Essential Communications contributes to the         the background. “The selling in digi-
rustic yet upscale atmosphere embodied in the décor, the lighting and, of            tal signage is overt,” he said, “where
course, the clothing.                                                                with audio, it is about creating an en-
More Subtle Selling                                                                    He added that we have become
  Although many stores are turning to digital signage and plasma screens to          more accustomed to high-quality audio
overtly market product to consumers during their shopping trips, the “lifestyle      wherever we are. “People take music
selling” that goes on when customers walk into their favorite store and hear         with them everywhere they go,” he
familiar tunes pumped through high delity speakers and booming subs is more          said. “Higher quality audio is available
subtle.                                                                              to people on a more wide-scale basis

Dawn Allcot is a freelance writer specializing in the audiovisual and health and tness industries.
1    July 2006                                                                        July 2006      1
as well, so when people go out shop-        Abercrombie & Fitch shoppers, evok-         grators, all national companies, had
ping or dining, they expect to hear         ing a nightclub atmosphere within the       the parameters for the store design, it
good audio. If you’re shopping in a         store.                                      was determined that a “shootout”
retail store and spending some money,                                                   would be the best way for each inte-
you’re going to want an environment         Sound Shootout                              grator to demo what it thought would
that most closely resembles the envi-          Perhaps describing an AV integra-        work best in the store.
ronment you’re used to, and that            tor’s dream, Schwartz admitted a bud-          This meant that Essential Commu-
you’re comfortable in.”                     get limit was never set: Abercrombie        nications had to design and install in
                                            executives simply wanted the best           one area of the store, which was still
Techno, House                               sound system they could get.
                                               “Abercrombie & Fitch expects every
                                                                                        under construction, a fully functioning,
                                                                                        pristine-sounding audio system before
and Trance                                  aspect of their stores to be stimulating.   it could even begin to plan the rest of
  Abercrombie & Fitch plays techno,         They don’t want anything plain and          the project. All three companies set
house and trance music on all four          ordinary, and that philosophy de -          their systems up at the same time, and
selling oors of the building, drawing       nitely extends to the sound system,”        the A&F CEO walked through and lis-
customers into the store, enticing          Schwartz said.                              tened to each one in turn.
them to stay and, ultimately, to shop.         A large budget, however, didn’t
  “It’s impressive as you walk in,” said
Paul Smith, Essential Communications
                                            mean the project was easy. A&F’s at-
                                            tention to detail made it one of the
project manager, “and it just keeps you     more challenging projects Essential         ‘Theater-like Sound’
in the mood.” Smith noted that he of-       Communications has ever tackled. In           “One thing the executives said dur-
ten sees customers of all ages, even        fact, the company had to beat out two       ing the initial meeting was that they
those you wouldn’t expect to nd in          other top contractors in an audio           wanted ‘theater-like sound’,” Schwartz
this type of retail environment.            shootout before earning the privilege       explained. Hearing about this, a sys-
  The store’s soundtrack changes            to submit a design, and eventually to       tem from Meyer Sound immediately
each month, and is supplied by DMX          complete the job.                           came to mind, because of the preva-
Music, a subscription service that pro-        The Abercrombie & Fitch execu-           lence of the company’s products in
vides background and foreground             tives invited their top three choices for   Broadway theaters and in nightclubs.
music for a number of international         AV integration into a design meeting        “That, coupled with previous success-
retail, healthcare, hospitality and busi-   at the company’s headquarters in Co-        ful experiences using their loudspeak-
ness o ce clients. The soundtrack is        lumbus OH, where the details of the         ers, convinced me it would be a natu-
specially designed to appeal to             project were revealed. Once the inte-       ral t,” Schwartz said.

                 The decorations can be eclectic, as is illustrated at right, and left, in the mural lining the central staircase.

2    Sound & Communications                                                          
     Essential Communications
      Manhattan NY-based Essential Communications was chosen from companies nationwide           munications within the building.
   to design and install the sound systems in the new Abercrombie & Fitch flagship stores in        Because Essential Communica-
   New York, Los Angeles and London. This is just the latest in a list of prestigious projects   tions was brought into the project
   completed by the designer and installer of audio and video solutions. By aligning the com-    fairly early on, the company worked
   pany with architectural firms and business owners from the conceptual stage of many           closely with the architect to reach
   projects, Essential Communications specializes in designing and building systems that are     the compromises required in order
   unique and well-suited for each client.                                                       to get the audio equipment where it
      Essential Communications has installed AV systems in The SoHo and Tribeca Grand Hotels
                                                                                                 was needed without a ecting the
   in New York City, Equinox Fitness Clubs, Carmine’s Restaurants in New York and Atlantic
   City, as well as Nobu57 and the TAO Asian Bistro in New York.
                                                                                                 store’s aesthetics. “We were able to
      The company launched in 1993, and since that time, has developed clients including ho-     get our speakers into the locations
   tels, restaurants, night clubs, retail venues, corporate facilities and health clubs.         we actually wanted them to be, be-
      For more information, go to                                  cause of the pre-planning,” Schwartz
                                                 many of the self-powered models                    The AV integrator worked with the
                                                 with conventional ceiling speakers              Selldorf team to t speakers in and
                                                 and QSC amps, Essential Communi-                on the ceilings amid the lighting,
                                                 cations is now installing a new sound           sprinkler heads, and even closed-cir-
                                                 system in an Abercrombie & Fitch                cuit television cameras and other de-
                                                 store in Los Angeles that will be 99%           vices. Although the integrator wasn’t
                                                 self-powered throughout the sales               able to follow the original plan ex-
                                                  oors.                                          actly, by re-designing on the y, Es-
                                                                                                 sential Communications was able to
                                                 ‘Creating an                                    create a system that works as well as
                                                                                                 the original design.
                                                 Atmosphere’                                        Nevertheless, compromises did
                                                    The interior design in the Manhat-           have to be made. The original design
                                                 tan location works with the sound               called for self-powered speakers
                                                 system to help create the ambience              across the board. The vestibule and
                                                 A&F executives were seeking: an en-             the main entry sales oor feature the
                                                 vironment reminiscent of a themed               UPM-1Ps within custom- tted Lowell
                                                 nightclub. O beat elements such as              plenum-rated backboxes, which
                                                 a moose head mounted on the wall                were designed by John Meyer. Black
                                                 above a glass display case, palm                grilles keep the speakers — eight
                                                 trees in the corner and artistic sepia          in all — completely hidden from
                                                 murals on the walls match, in their             view. But the abundance of
   For this initial “shootout,” the Essen-       own way, as well as the rows and                duct work in the ceiling of
tial Communications design incorpo-              rows of neatly folded, color-coordi-            other areas of the store pevent-
rated the Meyer UPM-1P, a self-pow-              nated clothing.                                 ed the UPM-1P’s custom boxes from
ered, ultra-compact box that o ers                  The agship store was designed by               tting.
wide coverage. The speaker’s high-fre-           Manhattan NY-based Selldorf Archi-
quency section comprises a one-inch
metal dome tweeter on a symmetrical
                                                 tects, which has been selected to re-
                                                 imagine Abercrombie’s in-store envi-
                                                                                                 Chose Ceiling-Mounted
constant - directivity high - frequency          ronments for key stores across the              Speakers
horn with a 100° beamwidth. Schwartz             United States, and in Europe and Ja-               Instead, Essential Communica-
liked the compact size of the speakers,          pan.                                            tions selected 139 ceiling-mounted
the rich sound and the reliability.                 The Fifth Avenue building, which             Meyer Sound MM-4 miniature wide-
   “I’m a strong believer in self-pow-           formerly housed a high-end handbag              range speakers, powered by QSC
ered loudspeakers,” Schwartz said. “In           store, has four sales levels, two non-          amps, to ful ll audio requirements
an environment like this, they’re a              sales oors that have the same                   throughout the remainder of the
huge bene t because you don’t have               soundtrack piped in and two addi-               store. These tiny cube speakers, fre-
to try to drive the ampli ed signal over         tional oors with o ces. Communi-                quently used in o ces, corporate
long cable runs. That’s a big store, and         cations or PA systems are not inte-             boardrooms and theaters, look simi-
many of the loudspeakers are quite a             grated into the sound system; em-               lar to the surrounding lighting, so
distance from the head-end.”                     ployees have their own walkie-talkie            they blend in, creating rows of geo-
   Although the nal design replaced              and phone paging system for com-

                                                                                                                         July 2006       3
Essential Communications designed/
installed a system for the “shootout” Installation of the back box for the ultra-
                                                                                    metric boxes across the ceiling in
in an area still under construction.  compact self-powered speakers.
                                                                                    most areas.
                                                                                       Due to the MM-4s tight coverage
                                                                                    pattern, the installer was able to focus
                                                                                    sound in the areas where the client
                                                                                    wanted it to be. Schwartz used the
                                                                                    analogy of a spotlight, with the cover-
                                                                                    age patterns overlapping so sound
                                                                                    is consistent across departments
                                                                                    throughout the store. Rane RPM88
                                                                                    programmable multiprocessors al-
                                                                                    lowed him to create EQ curves to
                                                                                    meet the unique acoustical pro les of
                                                                                    each area of the store.
                                                                                       Schwartz noted that the digital pro-
                                                                                    cessing was one of the keys to the
                                                                                    project’s success. Using Rane’s Drag
                                                                                    Net software, the RPM88 program-
                                                                                    mable multiprocessors o er high-qual-
                                                                                    ity, balanced analog inputs and out-
                                                                                    puts, with a drag-and-drop program-
                                                                                    ming interface. “The processor is very
                                                                                    straightforward,” Schwartz said. “It’s
                                                                                    easy to program and has a su ciently
                                                                                    powerful DSP engine.” He said that
                                                                                    the exibility of the system was one
    Evaluation of the miniature wide-range speakers to ensure that they fulfilled   of its key selling points. “We were
    the store’s requirements.                                                       able to design it into the system and
                                                                                    get it to do exactly what we wanted,”
      Equipment                                                                     he added.

      33      Auralex Gramma modulation isolation attenuators                       ‘Breathing Bass’
      2       Furman PM-PRO II power conditioner/monitors                              It already has been established that
              Liberty Wire & Cable cables                                           the new A&F store has a distinctive
      8       Lowell C30-0140E plenum UPM speaker enclosures w/grille, blk.         club feel. What’s a club without
      1       Marantz Professional PMD371 5-disc CD carousel                        pounding bass?
      1       Meyer Sound MM-4 CEU 2-channel MultiSense processor
                                                                                       In the entryway past the vestibule,
      129     Meyer Sound MM-4 miniature wide-range speakers
                                                                                    Tannoy 110 SRA 10-inch active down-
      34      Meyer Sound UMS-1P ultra-compact self-powered subwoofers
                                                                                      ring subs create the low end sound
      8       Meyer Sound UPM-1P ultra-compact self-powered speakers
                                                                                    required. These subwoofers were
      1       QSC CX204V 4-channel 70V power amp
                                                                                    used due to their unique ability to be
      1       QSC CX602V 2-channel 70V power amp
      17      QSC CX702 2-channel power amps
                                                                                    mounted into the ceiling, which was
      5       Rane DA216a distribution amps                                         a requirement in that part of the store.
      1       Rane RPM88 programmable multiprocessor                                On the north and south sides of the
      1       Rane RPM44 programmable multiprocessor                                store, 45 self-powered UMS-1P ultra-
      3       Rane SR3 smart remotes                                                compact subs are hidden inside the
      2       Rane LRS4 level recall switches                                       wooden cabinetry.
      2       Raxxess KAR 44-28 equipment rack enclosures w/accessories                 “What we wanted to do was almost
      4       Tannoy 110 SRA 10" active down firing subwoofers                      create the feeling of one giant
      9       Tannoy CMS60TDC high-performance ceiling monitor systems              subwoofer, with a push-and-pull e ect
      23      Tannoy i6AW T-60 high-performance 2-way extended-range                that makes the store almost feel like
              surface-mount speakers                                                it’s breathing,” Schwartz explained.
      24      Tannoy i6AW yoke speaker brackets                                     “That e ect is ampli ed by the fact
                                                                                    that shoppers don’t really know where
      List is edited from information supplied by Essential Communications.         the sound is coming from, since the

4       Sound & Communications                                                 
                                                                       114-year-old Abercrombie & Fitch has
                                                                        opened a 36,000-square-foot flagship
                                                                     store on Fifth Avenue in New York City.

subs are built into the store’s cabinetry
and camou aged by custom grilles.”
   Auralex Gramma modulation isola-
tion attenuators were added so the
subwoofer enclosure wouldn’t reso-
nate within the wooden cabinetry.
   Installing subwoofers within the         “Abercrombie & Fitch expects every
cabinetry of a retail store may seem        aspect of their stores to be stimulating.
unusual. After all, retail sales space is   They don’t want anything plain and
a valuable commodity for a store,
particularly in Manhattan. This will-ing    ordinary, and that philosophy defi-
sacri ce of sales oor square footage        nitely extends to the sound system,”
is a testament to A&F’s commitment
                                            David Schwartz
to the project. “I don’t think any other
                                            President, Essential Communications
retailer we’ve encountered anywhere
has this kind of respect and
requirements for its audio systems,”
Schwartz said. “The store sets a new
precedent for audio quality in the re-
tail environment.”

Used with permission of Testa Com-
munications from the July 2006 issue
of Sound & Communications maga-
zine. For more information, go to:

                                                                                              July 2006   5

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