The Early Years
The Atlantis Basel, or simply the ’tis, as it is popularly known, is without doubt one of the largest and most historic music halls of Northwestern Switzerland. The restaurant was founded in 1947 by explorer Paul Seiler and his younger brother Kurt as a café. The Seiler brothers must have been two oddballs, Paul Seiler for example used to cruise the city accompanied by chimpanzee Jeannette in the passenger seat. Animal affection was also displayed with the live alligators which were seen in the `tis during the early years and up to now have a place in the logo.
The hiring of a pianist and the move to the Klosterberg 13 in 1957 enabled the Atlantis to achieve a reputation as a unique jazz restaurant. Amongst others a young musician named Pepe Lienhard presented some of his first concerts of his decades-long international career. Many of Basel’s students have fond memories as the ´tis was one of the first places where you could order the new and coveted Coca-Cola. In the early ’60s, jazz faded, and with it the glory of the Atlantis, which was closed in the summer of 1975.
The Golden Years
In the fall of 1975 the Atlantis was reopened as a rock club. Many legendary live concerts took place during the following golden years. The majority of the cracks in the walls are probably attributable to these days when international greats such as Black Sabbath graced the place. The Blackwood recording studio built in the backyard had live recording capabilities, and the in-house record label further ensured that the name of Atlantis attained wide popularity.
The DJ Years
During the late nineties the audiences for live concert shows grew thinner and thinner, despite many efforts. The new form of entertainment by DJs had definitely started to take over. Thus the Atlantis gradually became the scene of club nights with famous DJs. Meanwhile also the actual restaurant business was given a higher priority. Today, the Atlantis claims to be a restaurant, lounge, bar and club in one and also a guarantee of exceptional business events and the hottest parties in town.
To fulfill this promise in the acoustics domain a renewal of the ten year old audio system was needed. Not just the sound of the system should be improved, it should also be made possible to activate the remote areas of the club and the popular gallery upstairs as additional zones. In addition to the club nights further events traditionally held at the Atlantis needed to be covered as well, like concerts, local carnival and business events. Needless to say that the entire system in the restaurant area should be as invisible as feasible.
Dirk Noy, General Manager of WSDG Europe, the responsible planning bureau, mentions: “In order to properly address all concerns, we initiated a round table conversation in the early planning phase”. These talks included the Atlantis host and client Jürg Wartmann, resident DJ Cedric Eichenberger, Jürg Arpagaus from Audio Partner as a specialist in noise limiting and recording, as well as Alain Müller and Christoph Ritter from M&R Multimedia Productions, the designated system installer. Requirements were formulated, defined and quantified, and a sound system design was developed by WSDG engineers Gabriel Hauser and Carlo Fickler.
The most visible and audible components of the new system are the loudspeakers. The front system comprises two JBL AM6212 – a 12”/ 3” two-way speaker of the Application Engineered Series, which was determined to be the best choice for the application in a comparative hearing and measurement test. The gallery – critical for ceiling height – and the auxiliary zones are covered by a total of twelve JBL AC 28/26 systems – very compact, horizontally installable dual 8”/ 1” two-way systems. Kling & Freitag 15-inch subwoofer systems were installed under the stage.
The electronic processing of signals and their distribution is handled by a BSS Soundweb London processor with a BLU-160 and BLU-BOB Break Out Box. Various distributed zone volume controls and a selector switch for operating mode are provided for simple system control. The amplifier rack is stacked with eight Crown I-Tech HD devices.
The ’tis is a privileged place, in the sense that it has a beautiful, centuries-old architecture. On the other hand this causes some problems – for the beautiful old buildings in the immediate neighborhood are residences. As usual in a city center, one can not expect total silence at night, yet Jürg Wartmann is sensitive to the need of preserving neighborhood peace. Therefore, in the first installation of its kind in Switzerland, WSDG specified the Martin Audio Engineer – a unique audio processor, which uses a psychoacoustic effect – the so-called Residual Hearing – so the audience can perceive low frequency energy although it is not emitted by the system. A Cesva LRF-05 processor and limiter acts as a loudness emergency brake just in case. This processor receives its sense input from a black box which offers isolation from the audience noise and simultaneously records noise levels for logging purposes, a legal requirement in Switzerland.
Installation and Tales
The club is open almost daily so the install by M&R Multimedia Productions had to be meticulously planned and implemented. According to M&R project manager Christoph Ritter the main challenge was the time constraint – the full install had to be carried out within only 48 hours. “Just as the Club Night on Saturday ended at five clock in the morning, off we went. Sunday morning at seven we began with the dismantling of the old equipment. By mid-afternoon, all loudspeakers and the old amplifier racks were dismantled. We then immediately started the installation of a total of 18 new loudspeaker systems. Despite the sleepless night we installed and rewired the new amplifier and system racks early Monday morning. The first sounds were then heard during the course of the afternoon.”
More Golden Years
All systems were calibrated and measured in collaboration by WSDG, M&R and Audio Partner. “Despite the extremely tight schedule we managed to play background music as early as noon on Tuesday and start Friday night with full power to the Club Night.” comments Alain Müller of M&R. Finally, the following weekend the club was reopened in a celebration night featuring many of Atlantis regulars and friends as well as striking golden champagne glasses provided by the event sponsor, “to match the punchy and crystal clear sound of our new sound system,” toasted a clearly satisfied and proud Jürg Wartmann – and a fitting symbol for the beginning a new series of “Golden Years” of Atlantis tradition.