VOICES AT THE COLISEUM
When System Sound were contracted to provide the house PA system at the London Coliseum for the recent ENO & O2 'Voice' Season they looked at the versatility of the programme - ranging from chart-topping R&B artist Lauryn Hill to the cool Brazilian vibe of Gilberto Gil - and knew that the W8LC compact line array from Martin Audio would best reinforce a programme designed to introduce a wide variety of world voices to a new audience.
But having worked the famous venue before, Simon Biddulph's company was well aware of the hazards confronting them since the Coliseum is not only the largest space auditorium in the UK but it is designed with three 'letterbox' balcony tiers into which the sound needs to be accurately projected, with little spillage.
'Everything had to be carefully measured and the sound cut to length,' Simon explained.
Based on their experience, Simon Biddulph provided identical W8LC hangs on either side of the proscenium arch, grouped in two vertical clusters set eight metres apart, using a system of clutch chains and motors. This solution was devised in conjunction with consulting engineer, Chris Coxhead.
'The venue is very sensitive about employing third party equipment, but the acts needed a fully dynamic system,' said Simon. 'We didn't want to fly subs and so the W8LC became the obvious solution because of its full range capabilities.'
Although Martin Audio supplies proprietary ViewPoint™ software to optimise its systems, the predictive properties will not extend across four tiers. 'Instead, we designed the system using CAD and used ViewPoint™ to check our calculations; we then moved it by 1° as a result of applying a listening test.' The shelves were carefully worked out and the very narrow characteristics of the sound dispersion ensured that System Sound were able to fire it into each 'letterbox'.
Simon Biddulph was delighted with the result. 'The room saturates really quickly and you couldn't have put a full-sized line array in for that reason. The system needed to contain power that you wouldn't normally have in a place such as this, but which at the same time is controllable. This system rocks when you just tickle it.'
And he says the icing on the cake is the speed of the system rigging. 'On the experimental day we had the W8LC hangs up and down three times with just two crew. In fact the whole process only took an hour once we had the mother truss in position.'
The system EQ was handled by Martin Audio's dedicated DX1 system processor whilst the high left and right crossovers were programmed into the BSS Soundweb.
Simon Biddulph says the W8LC has now become their favoured system after using it at the VE Day celebrations in Trafalgar Square last month and later the VE/VJ Day commemorations in St James's Park and BBC Africa season at the British Museum where it 'performed brilliantly.' It will also be used by System Sound once again at Proms In The Park on September 10-11.