THE GREAT ESCAPE
A move back to Brighton and another twist of fate presented the opportunity to meet John Holland, owner of the Great Escape nightclub directly opposite famous Brighton landmark the Palace Pier. I brought thefirst HousePods to the meeting and twisted his arm into installing a Pod sound system during their future club refit. I convinced him the Pod system was the way forward to ignite his dream of establishing the venue on the UK club scene. It was going to be a massive hi-fi system of audacious audio quality. Inspired by a clutch of world-famous legendary New York venues that hosted incredible sound systems during the first underground disco years such as David Mancuso’s the loft, Larry Levan’s Paradise Garage and also Peter Gatien’s “the King of New York Clubs” Limelight, Tunnel, and Palladium. All were fitted by with exceptional sound systems, and entranced by folklore surrounding the way the systems were positioned and split into frequencies. The stories behind them were fascinating and inspiring. It was our chance to make our mark and channel the passion of perfection behind the intent of Blue Room brand.
It was immediately clear that the club size demanded a more powerful version of the Pod. With speaker components provided by B&W (unbeknown to me at the time breaking B&W production protocol authorized under the wistful eye of Robert Trunz), my design solution was to evolve the original form of the first Pod to accept a second loudspeaker driver beneath the first and sculpt the bottom from the spine. It suited the new application of the Pods, as they would be high up on brackets and more exposed. It was evident new loudspeaker drivers based on the same dimensions of the ones we used were going to be needed to pull off the massive demands of a club environment and deliver more power. Dickie wanted to split the frequencies with the Pods handling mid and top range. It called for an almighty bottom end to handle the sub frequencies, and this would mean building a wall of bass. We excavated into the cliff face to build the huge bass cabinet. It was tough work. We positioned 24 x 801 bass drivers in that enclosure. Anyone that knows about hi-fi knows about B&W’s legendary 801 series. In Abbey Road Studios, 801’s were used to master orchestra scores. There are two bass drivers in a pair. Here we had 24. Maybe you can imagine the bass sound; it was sensational.
We assembled the small team of skilled engineers and fabricators. Dickie brought in a talented engineer named Martin De Saulles. Martin previously worked on flight simulators and had the bedrock of knowledge from working with acoustics for professional environments. We labored around the clock to produce the Pods for the club’s aggressive nine-day launch deadline. This team was to be the nucleus for our future Pod production at B&W.
The re-opening of Brighton’s Escape Club in 1993 was a complete success, and the sound system baptized by one of the founder’s of house music, producer and DJ legend, Todd Terry. The Pod system received critical acclaim, with the UK based fashion and contemporary culture magazine The Face labeling it a “fierce sound.”
By the time I had arranged a second meeting with Robert Trunz, we not only show him the first prototype Pods, (aptly named House-pods because of their domestic use, and in homage to the emergence of house music) we also had an identity, Blue Room Loudspeakers. It matched our ambition. We also had a team. The cherry on top was presenting a complete club sound system based on the second Pod design, now called the TechnoPod, acoustically engineered with new fellow collaborator and Blue Room member, Martin de Saulles.