Bristol’s Star & Garter reggae venue refurbished with Powersoft amplification

Bristol reggae venue The Star & Garter has undergone a major audio refurbishment, featuring amplification from Italian amp and technology company Powersoft.

The venue, which was saved from closure in 2018 after a crowdfunding campaign staved off tax hikes in the area, was deemed to be in need of a comprehensive audio overhaul by its owners. Local company Qualitex Sound System (QSS) was hired to carry out the refurb, with the firm’s Linford Bailey, known in the industry as Kutty Qualitex, overseeing proceedings.

“I only ever recommend Powersoft to QSS customers,” he said. “Obviously the size of the job determines which models I’ll specify. I linked up with CUK Audio about seven or eight years ago and, since then, I’ve been able to get access whatever is required, whether that’s T Series or X4L for live gigs or Quattrocanali and Ottocanali for fixed installs.”

The Star & Garter’s new sound system was required to cover a number of rooms, including a lounge, dance floor, the main bar and a chill out area.

Despite being a “straightforward install”, according to Kutty, the initial requirements for the venue were substantially overestimated: “We were told to order 12 Biamp Community W2-228’s (2×8” loudspeakers), and after installing the first two we realised that 12 was a bit too far! We ended up only using four of them across all of the rooms. It’s usually running at quite a low level but with a very clean sound.”

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The team installed one of the speakers and its subwoofer in the bar, and another three speakers and two subs in the dance floor area. This entire system is driven by one Powersoft Duecanali 4804 and two Quattrocanali 2004.

“ArmoníaPlus is the standard software for me these days, and I was a big user of the previous version of Armonía (Pro audio Suite) before that,” said Kutty. “The Star & Garter needed a separate outboard control for the system where each speaker could be controlled from behind the bar, but because it hasn’t got DSP capabilities, we just used a Symetrix Jupiter 8 processor.”

“I’ve been using their products and telling people about them for decades, all quite unofficially of course,” he said. “I went to demo day in London a few years ago and spoke them about different things, but most of my feedback goes to Stuart at CUK Audio, who relays findings back to Powersoft. When the X8 came out and we had so much success with it that I wanted a sub amp; lo and behold the X4L came out. Stuart leant me one and I’ve already told him that he’s not getting it back as I’m more than pleased with it!”

The Star & Garter’s official reopening saw a festival stage outside the venue welcome guest appearances from US comedian Dave Chappelle, reggae star Damian Marley, and DJ Roni Size.