The Julia Morgan Ballroom and the Merchants Exchange Club are two of the most coveted special event venues in San Francisco, both located in the landmark Merchants Exchange. An architectural masterpiece, the 15th floor Ballroom combines a timeless Beaux-Arts interior with superior modern amenities. The Club, located in the lower level of the eponymous building, is a stylish plug-and-play venue with 100 years of history all its own. Taken together, the Ballroom and Club offer more than 15,000 square feet of premium exhibit and event space, including breakout rooms, show-stopping bar and lounge areas and breathtaking design details.
The Merchants Exchange operations team prides itself on its fully-verticalized business structure, which captures every link of the value chain, from food-and-beverage operations to planning and all other elements of event production. In addition to ensuring quality control of all elements of the event experience, the structure protects the integrity of these historic facilities. To this end, the staff of the Merchants Exchange sought to source and purchase a complete AV package to execute the 250+ events it stages each year. Head of Production, Walter Ryon consulted with Some More Sound of Concord, CA to determine the criteria for his choice of solution. In terms of the audio aspect of the brief, the discussions identified four aspects – quality, reliability, flexibility and aesthetic suitability – as being key to a successful outcome.
The Merchants Exchange team chose CODA Audio. In terms of quality, the client wanted high performance equipment that would achieve great sonic results across a wide range of applications with minimal effort and easily mitigate difficult amplification situations, such as lavalier microphones. The flexible nature of the venue demanded that loudspeakers, console and wireless receivers could be set up and used on an ‘anywhere/anytime’ basis, whilst appearing as sleek and unobtrusive as possible in order to satisfy aesthetic expectations. The sheer number of events at the club would naturally require systems to be robust and reliable. A combination of CODA Audio speakers, supplied by Some More Sound, was chosen to meet the diverse needs of this most luxurious of events facilities.
The initial investment comprised 4 x CODA Audio CoRAY4, 4 x CODA Audio HOPS8, 2 x CODA Audio G15-SUB and 3 x CODA Audio LINUS 10C loudspeaker management power amplifiers. The Merchants Exchange consists of multiple principal spaces, each boasting spectacular architecture, that can be individually configured to match customer requirements. The jaw-dropping Julia Morgan Ballroom hosts a range of corporate events, banquets and weddings in its 4,500 square feet of unimpeded event space. The Club is a more challenging venue with a lower ceiling and a flexible configuration, offering multiple seating plans. The Club’s spectacular Moya del Pino Bar and Lounge, elevated slightly above the lower banquet hall, is a genuine artistic treasure, where presentational considerations are fundamental to any audio system in use.
Within the events packages offered at the Club, AV systems are sold as bespoke value-adds and the flexible modularity of the CODA Audio systems assists Ryon’s team in providing the right pieces to perfectly match the needs of each event. For example, where a CoRAY main system might be configured on the long side of the Ballroom, a HOPS8 speech system could be in use in the Club’s Great Hall. Alternatively, the CORAY system might find itself used for mains and delays in the Hall whilst the HOPS8 delivers background music in the Del Pino Bar and Lounge. As events at the Merchants Exchange Club scale up, Ryon anticipates further investment in the shape of a CODA Audio APS system to cater for larger full-band or DJ sets. The return on investment, from Walter Ryon’s point of view, is already high:
“From the first event we noticed a huge improvement in sound quality over the systems formerly rented in. The modular packages that Some More Sound supplied are making setups faster and quality more consistent. Every time we bring up the faders, the equipment combinations just sound great! We don’t have to spend a lot of time ‘ringing out’. We are getting frequent compliments from our most discerning customers and that creates repeat business and referrals.”
Project Lead for CODA Audio USA, Technical Director Michael Creason, reflects on the installation with great satisfaction:
“Walter wanted quality combined with sleekness and a scalability that could be easily achieved with CODA products. We’re so proud that the Merchants Exchange is delighted with their forward-thinking investment!”
As audio professionals in the USA increasingly recognize the wide-ranging benefits of CODA Audio systems, the company’s message is spreading organically and exponentially, delivered not only by CODA Audio USA’s hard-working and dedicated sales team but importantly, by those who have enjoyed hands-on experience of using the products in real live situations. Keir Moorhead of Some More Sound has the last word:
“From the first listening, Some More Sound has been in the CODA camp. Having a next-generation level of headroom available with no distortion and a super-low noise floor gives a platform from which any operator – experienced or not – can succeed with. Setup is fast and easy and the systems sound superb!”