Issue 25

Martin MLA @ The Marquee: BYO iPod

Grab your monogrammed handkerchief and prepare to weep softly with me.


14 May 2012

Text:/ Graeme Hague
Images courtesy The Star

The biggest, most ambitious, most expensive club audio install we’ve ever seen in this part of the world is complete – based on the highly desirable Martin Audio MLA PA – and the DJs’ iPods have taken over.

One mustn’t be too dismissive of DJs and their craft, but when one of the world’s highest profile DJs rocked up to the launch of the Marquee at The Star with his iPhone, asking to be plumbed into the PA via BlueTooth (so he could press ‘Play’ and stream his ‘set’) you have to wonder how exactly he’s earning his inordinately fat paycheck.

Or it just could be jealousy kicking in.


For those at the back of the class, Star City Casino is no more. It’s now ‘The Star’. Tabcorp has devolved its casino business, calling it Echo Entertainment, and brought in some American heavy hitters to inject more than a touch of Vegas to Sydney.

Although not entirely complete, the ~$1b refit has changed the old Star City out of sight. World-class restaurants, bars, live venues and more have turned The Star into a ‘destination’. Part of the mix was to have a full-blown, glamorous nightclub. The Marquee is that nightclub and it’s spec’ed to impress.

AV was all ears when we heard that a Martin Audio MLA system was to be installed. MLA has been on the market for over a year now, but it’s Martin’s Rolls Royce touring rig and didn’t cause much of a blip on the Australian radar. So to hear that 12 MLA boxes (plus subs and other speaker systems) were to be installed, into a nightclub, well, that’s interesting.


Technical Audio Group, as the Martin representative in Australia, was given the thumbs-up to supply a Multi-cellular Line Array (MLA) PA system into the largest of the three areas inside the club – imaginatively called the Main Floor (the Boombox and the Library being the other two). The challenges for the MLA rig were, let’s say… interesting. Dance clubs aren’t exactly known for ‘ambient’ SPL levels out on the floor and the Marquee was likely going to take this factor up to a whole new level (please admire the pun). Many DJs tend to regard red lights on the sound system as added lighting effects for their personal benefit. Joking aside, a real issue is the wide variety and disparate quality of the media content that a lot of high-profile DJs bring with them. They all crunch, mash and mix their favourite tracks to extremes, yet there’s little consistency between the different operators and as TAG’s Technical Director, Anthony Russo, explained you have to expect the unexpected – and you have to expect it loud. So Russo shouldn’t have been surprised (but he was) when the aforementioned world-famous DJ rocked up with his iPhone setup, adamant it was necessary for him to do his world-famous thing. Yes, maybe it’s time to get a fresh handkerchief.

TAG’s involvement with the Marquee went well beyond a PA system for the Main Floor. Apart from the Boombox and the chill-out Library there are small, segregated areas of entertainment everywhere. Even the large, unisex toilet has its own DJ booth so the punters can continue movin’ and groovin’ while they do whatever you have to do in a unisex bathroom (Ally McBeal has a lot to answer for). The cleaning staff must love it. During the gala opening nights there was even a snake charmer performing in the toilet, which again you’d have to imagine would have an adverse effect on what most people are hoping to achieve in a bathroom.

And okay… yes, Paris Hilton was there. ‘Nuff said about that.


The main dancefloor speaker system is comprised of 12 x Martin Audio powered MLA Multi-cellular Loudspeaker Arrays and four MLX powered sub basses with 18 VHF bullet arrays to “make sure the system specs all the way out to 32kHz” [They cater for dogs at nightclubs these days? I really must get out more – Ed].

MLA is more accustomed to high-end touring and crowds of tens of thousands. At the Marquee, MLA is barely idling delivering nightly levels of 120dB. And if you’re an SPL junky and think you have heard loud, Russo has installed the world’s loudest ‘appliance’ to summon dance goers, a ‘Nathan Air Chime’ locomotive air horn, as used on US trains, 142dB at 1 metre!

Elsewhere in the club the dance systems are comprised of Martin Audio W8LM line array, WSX subs all with VHF bullets with lower-level bar areas catered for with 76 elements of Martin Audio Omniline line array and subs. A high-end Martin ceiling speaker system was installed to satisfy those punters in the unisex loos.

QSC Audio QSys Core 1000 delivers 80 discrete channels to over 40 QSC Audio PL series amplifiers in over 120U of rack spacing and patching. That’s well over three times the height of Paris Hilton.

Technical Audio Group (Martin Audio, QSC): (02) 9519 0900 or


Video wall: The 9m × 2.5m main backdrop you can see pictured opposite consists of a GLUX 12mm-thick semi-transparent video wall. The wall is hydraulically operated to allow the middle 3m section to move behind the right hand side – the right hand section  moves forward a few inches and the middle slides behind. It all aligns perfectly to reveal a 3m section suitable for go-go dancers. There is an additional 13 panels (1000mm × 500mm) installed around the arched front of the DJ box – a total of 58 panels in all. Control for video is via Coolux Pandoras Box Media Play Pro.

Lighting Control: Martin M1 Console (Main room), Martin MPC Control (Lounge Bar)

Laser: Martin RGB Laser system with Mirrors

Lighting: Martin MAC 250 Entours × 32
Martin Atomic Strobes × 6
Martin MAC 101 LED Wash × 14
Martin Mania EFX 500 × 4
Martin K1 Hazer × 3
510meters of ProShop RGB LED Tape and 28 Unicontrollers

Show Technology: (02) 9748 1122 or


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