Some people may not get excited by club speakers; after all they are just a stack of black boxes in the corner making a noise. However, for some — including us! — a club speaker system sometimes can be the ultimate source of sexy.
The pure sounds that emanate from these well-crafted cabinets are known to make people… well, very excited indeed. Hence DJ Mag has been invited to share in such excitement. So off we trot to the inaugural Mutiny Festival in Chichester to experience a whole new dimension in soundsystem design.
Pure Groove Sound Systems is a new name to the market, plying their trade out of the US, but now emerging onto the UK and European markets. Headed up by a former NASA Director of Electroacoustic Research and a bunch of dance music enthusiasts, they have come up with a different approach when it comes to the delivery of sound in a club, event or festival environment.
We were intrigued by the Pure Groove Sound System for the simple fact they produce sound in a way that is different from other soundsystems. In a nutshell, what separates Pure Groove Systems from some of the others is the fact that they uses horn technology in its speakers.
If you think back to the old gramophones (remember the HMV dog image?), they would have all their sound frequencies delivered to the listener via a single horn. Pure Groove Systems uses that age-old proven method of sound delivery and upscaled it to produce the soundsystems they use today.
“A horn in 2015!?”, we hear you say. Scepticism is expected with any new arrival to a scene let alone a relatively new approach based on a seemingly outdated method of sound delivery. Further research into the tech specs and background revealed some interesting tit-bits of information.
Pure Groove Systems as mentioned is designed by Tom Danley, former director of Electroacoustic research at NASA. His designs allow for Pure Groove to build speakers which use multiple drivers of different bandwidths in one single horn and make them behave as a single full-range loudspeaker.
Pure Groove’s brochure states that ‘this patented point source technology means fewer exit points, which yields less distortion and more power, precision and clarity’.
Sounds very exciting, however we’ve all fallen victim to great marketing campaigns before, DJ Mag decided we needed to experience this for ourselves to see if all the fuss was justified.
When we first arrive at the arena using the Pure Groove system. DJ Mag is immediately impressed. Apparently due to a residential area being close by, and the fact there's a large brick-wall along the back of the tent, there are serious challenges and limitations on what they can do; but we have to say, they successfully work around it without any detriment to the sound quality.
The tent actually is very large and naturally we walk around the tent at various points throughout the weekend assessing the sound, and it really is something special. All frequency ranges are clear, which is hard to achieve in a festival environment.
We only have to take a walk to the main stage to realise the difference in quality. We're unsure who's providing the system to that stage, but from the array set up to the output at the main stage, we feel a bit sorry for the artists performing there. No such sympathy is needed in the ‘Warehouse Big Top’ tent, however, where the Pure Groove Sound System is situated.
In order to get under the bonnet of how they manage to produce such a great sound in a festival environment, we approach Damian Murphy, the founder of Pure Groove Systems and Tom Drew, also from Pure Groove, to get a better insight to the system.
So Tom, what separates Pure Groove Sound Systems from the competition? “What is key is that we make horns and not speakers. So the J1 Jericho has 6 x 18" woofers, 6 x 6" mid range drivers and three x high frequency drivers all in the same box,” he tells us.
“They work together to produce sound out of one point making it a horn and producing a sound that is different to any other. It's full range too, so has the low end (sub) which makes it unique. Whilst we can be very loud we can also maintain clarity. So no ringing in the ears after a night out!”
We pose the question to Damien about the biggest challenge over the course of the weekend. “Providing great sound in a big-top is always a challenge due to the high ceilings and flat surfaces, which are very difficult acoustically and create reverb throughout,” he says.
“At Mutiny, it's even more difficult due to a brick-wall directly along the back of the tent, which increases the subwoofer reverb considerably. However, the fact that we use point source horn loaded speakers, we are able to specifically design a system and direct our sound effectively onto the audience. This also enabled us to minimize noise levels outside the tent, which is very important because of nearby residents.”
How do you think the system would perform in a completely open-air environment rather than in a large marquee/tent, like on the main stage?
“Our systems sound phenomenal in open air environments, because there is no reverb or physical restrictions, they can really excel outdoors,” he explains. “Our point source technology enables us to cut through wind and rain like no other system out there and provide a consistent sound throughout the overage area.
Our J1 speaker has a throw of over 600ft, which enables the back of the audience to enjoy the music just as much as the front. At the moment, because we are relatively new to an industry where there are established relationships, getting main stages takes time. However, we have already built a solid reputation due to the unmatched quality and power of our sound, so we are confident with our new line of speakers that will change soon.”
What is the vision for Pure Groove and where do you see the company in the next five years? “Our vision is to see Pure Groove as the industry standard for sound systems in clubs, festivals and live events. We are confident we have the best soundsystems out there to enhance the experience of the audience. Ultimately, we want people to be saying, 'I'm not going there unless they have a Pure Groove system!'”
In summary, when critiquing a soundsystem you have to ask yourself... what are the true measures of success for a soundsystem? Design? Sound quality? Brand image? Clarity? Volume? Ability to meet demand/requirements? Satisfied users/audience? The list could go on and on.
And within our assessment of the Pure Groove soundsystem, the competition do have something to fear with this product, we feel. It ticks all of the above boxes and more, and we can see this speaker set-up being used in many more venues and festivals alike in the near future.
A big DJ Mag thumbs up goes out to the Pure Groove soundsystem. Excellent and quite unique technology that exceeds our expectations over the course of the weekend.
£££ Dependant on build
Build Quality 8
Ease of Use 9
Value For Money N/A
Sound Quality 9
Impressive sound from a relatively small array. Clarity and power are both excellent. No distortion detected at high amplification settings.
Couldn’t find any issues with this system at all.
A really great system that excels in a festival environment. Would love to hear how good these sound in a club. A welcome addition to the sound reinforcement arena.
Words: Will Baker