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The Berghain Sound System

Clubs | Music

When you consider the best clubs in the world, aside from their impressive line-ups, excited revellers, and sheer size, what do they all have in common?

Their sound.

For years, Funktion-One has been considered at the cutting edge of quality audio on loudspeaker systems. And when the owners chose their product to bang out techno through the Berghain sound system, you can assume that’s a 5-star review!

You don’t get to be one of the best nightclubs in the world without great sound. You could be one of the best DJs in the world, but you need quality audio to weave your magic.

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The Main Dancefloor

The techno Mecca of the world has remained loyal to the sound that made it all happen – Funktion-One. At the time of installation in 2004, the system was one of the largest company installs ever. 

The Berghain sound system comprises four Funktion-One Dance Stacks, a Double Infrahorn, and two Resolution-2 for monitoring. It’s an impressive system, and it needs to be. The area has 18-metre high ceilings, and while only half of the building is in use, it’s a massive area with acoustic challenges.

On any given weekend, the sound systems in Berghain run at 10-20% capacity. The club’s ownerships cite the reason as anything higher, and it would literally pummel the dancefloor into physical submission. And nobody would last more than a few hours.  

The building did undergo refurbishment, but it has stayed minimal and stripped down by maintaining its concrete and steel facade. Fans of Berghain refer to visiting as ‘mass’, and the venue does resemble a cathedral, albeit a depraved one. Coupled with Berghain’s Funktion-One sound system playing pumping techno, it’s nothing short of a spiritual experience.

Read: Inside Berghain, WTF?!

The Story of Panorama Bar's Sound System

Berghain features not one but two fantastic audio arrangements. The main dancefloor is typically dedicated to techno—the upstairs Panorama Bar to house and milder sub-genres of techno music. Panorama Bar is much smaller than the main floor, so building a sound system is quite tricky.

Now, non-audiophiles might be thinking, you just find the best sound production company in Germany, right? Not so much.

In 2017, the Berghain sound system in the Panorama Bar changed from Funktion-One to Studt-Akustik. Hailing from Dresden, Studt-Akustik is known for producing systems in theatres and opera houses.

But when it came to testing, Berghain’s technical manager Krischan Makswitat had taken the right gamble.

When you consider theatre and opera houses, acoustics take priority. The folks in the back need to hear everything being said or sung on stage. So Makswitat’s choice was a stroke of genius.

The Panorama Bar has a few tricky elements to overcome, including; its small size, highly acoustically reflective glass, concrete surfaces, and floorplan. What looks great visually in a club does not always translate well acoustically.

Any audio production company would have a hard time making a world-class quality system work in a venue as tricky as the Panorama Bar.

Studt-Akustik had a monumental task ahead of them. They were competing with predecessor Funktion-One, and the stakes couldn’t be higher. What could be a better win than producing the audio system for one of the best nightclubs in the world?

The Change:

With Funktion-One coming before it, Studt-Akustik needed to deliver.

Deliver they did.

After careful consideration and planning from company owner Peter Studt, the Panorama Bar now houses a 4-point line-array system with 6-subwoofers. The Berghain sound system offers a crisp, direct sound which impressed from the first test in the venue.

The four identical loudspeaker elements are close together so that they constructively interfere with each other. It makes their sound go further. The vertical shape and stacking allow for direct and narrow output, which means no sound distortion, even in the presence of glass & concrete. It is the perfect sound design for the smaller Panorama Bar space.

The four-point line-array system, combined with its six subwoofers, makes it formidable for the music genre of the venue – house. Study-Akustik managed to install a brilliant solution for the acoustic issues.

It was a risk for Berghain to change the Panorama Bar sound system, but this is also a nightclub that was legally acknowledged as a cultural institution in Germany in 2016.

Its commitment to being the best has created an institution where people will stand outside for hours, with only a tiny possibility to get in.

If you’re an audiophile and enjoy attending clubs with a great sound system, the brilliance of the Berghain sound system is evident when you enter.

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