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'The sound system is the heart of the club’: Inside Bootshaus - the world's No.5 nightclub

Situated in Cologne, Germany, Bootshaus is the world’s number five-ranked club in the world. Its booths have been graced by some of the biggest and most influential dance acts on the planet, from the likes of Skrillex and David Guetta, to Diplo and Avicii to name but a few. But while its glittering array of performers, as well as the laser and pyrotechnic shows that regularly delight fans may help to illustrate its world class status, it is, says the club’s CEO Tom Thomas, the sound system that remains its beating heart. Here, he explains how and why its new L-Acoustics A Series system is set to take this legendary location to greater heights than ever before.

For 20 years, Bootshaus has been serving up a potent blend of electro-house, dubstep, and drum’n’bass for clubgoers. As one of the country’s first techno-culture hubs, it has built a formidable reputation inside Germany, where it consistently ranks #1 in the nation and #5 on the world stage.

However, the 1,900-cap space, which includes three dance floors, each with its own DJ booth, and a large outdoor area overlooking the Rhine, hasn’t achieved its iconic status by standing still. And with a focus on ensuring that its sonic capabilities continue to be world-beating, Bootshaus CEO Tom Thomas decided the time was right for a significant overhaul of its sound system.

After our old system had brought Bootshaus to the fifth place in the world over 12 years, it was time for an upgrade, especially since some issues had started to arise,” Thomas told Headliner. “We always strive to keep up with the times, and currently, L-Acoustics is the way to go. So, we explored their offerings and ultimately decided to go with them!”

One of those issues was getting sound to each of the dance floors, with the previous system, installed over a decade ago, failing to reach the entirety of the space. “This new system promises to fill the Bootshaus with an unprecedented sound experience and offer our guests a completely new musical experience," Thomas continued. “Bootshaus has a very unique layout and needs to work for many different event concepts. We consider not only our needs but also those of our long-term partners who host their events here, where the DJ might perform from different locations within the club. Additionally, Bootshaus also hosts concerts where the stage in the club is used, so the system needs to be adaptable to everything.”

L-Acoustics Certified Provider Distributor Babbel & Haeger was tasked with specifying the perfect system for the venue in consultation with production company Laserframe, whose relationship with Bootshaus extends over almost two decades.

According to Babbel & Haeger’s application delegate Tobias Hemmersbach, L-Acoustics mapping software Soundvision was crucial in helping the team arrive at the perfect solution.

“We only had 20-year-old, 2D files, but things have changed a lot there in that time,” he explains. “Because of all the different areas and heights of the venue – the dancefloor being the lowest point and the VIP decks being on the roof of the building - Soundvision was very crucial to simulating all the various heights of the different venue spaces and to achieving Bootshaus’ audio objectives for each one.”

Tobias and his team decided on a final design that featured left/right hangs of two A15 Focus over one A15 Wide on either side of the DJ booth for the main dance floor. Seven KS28 subwoofers embedded under the stage provide a low-end thump. Two further hangs of one A15 Focus over one A15 Wide ensure the entire floor is filled with energy. Nine X12 coaxial enclosures are used throughout the remaining spaces to ensure even, dynamic coverage. For the upper VIP Deck, three X12 and two KS21 subwoofers cover the space. DJs are treated to monitoring via one A15 Wide and one KS21 per side.

For Thomas, the specification of the perfect system was essential in maintaining the club’s status, such is the scrutiny placed upon its ability to deliver best in class sound for each and every audience member and performer.

“The most important aspect has always been and will always be the sound quality that covers every genre,” he stated. “We are not just a techno or dubstep club; we want to cover all facets of electronic music. For this, we need a sophisticated sound system, which we now have with L-Acoustics. At Bootshaus, the sound system is the heart of the club. Our guests come to celebrate music, and the system needs to be at the highest level for that.”

For Thomas and the rest of the Bootshaus team, the response to the system has been unanimously positive.

“Already, our audience recognises a major quality upgrade in the sound,” he affirmed. “We’ve achieved everything we wanted - great quality audio throughout, and of course, the excellent low-end that clubgoers expect. We have a lot of very happy DJs now.

“The investment in this system underlines our commitment to exceeding guest expectations and to staying at the forefront of the club scene.

“We invite all music lovers to experience this exciting new era with us. Be ready to become part of a revolutionary sound journey in the boathouse. It will captivate you and never let go.”