WHITE WAVES IN SOAS
Brunei Lecture Theatre Equips with Martin Audio
Founded in 1916, the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) is the only Higher Education institution in the UK specialising in the study of Asia, Africa and the Near and Middle East.
With the largest concentration in Europe of academic staff concerned with Africa, Asia and the Middle East, SOAS has a roll of more than 4,300 students, 40% of whom are on postgraduate or research programmes.
This places huge demand on the facility's Brunei Lecture Theatre, situated on their Bloomsbury campus, by the 300 staff members. And since the 290-seat facility is also hired out to third parties, the wear and tear on the technical infrastructure, seven days a week, is extreme.
Located within the Brunei Gallery, the Lecture Theatre was built in the early 1990's, and according to AV-IT analysts, Gary Hammond and Denson Abrahams, by last year the technology was badly in need of upgrading to cope with the additional (and varying) usage - which can range from world music concerts to inaugural lectures featuring new professors, both during weekdays and at weekends.
They successfully petitioned for a technology budget with the result that Clarity in Sound, Light & Vision recently installed a full Martin Audio mission-critical sound reinforcement rig, supplemented by delays, and supplied by AC Lighting.
'We decided from the outset that we wanted Martin Audio loudspeakers because they have an excellent reputation,' says Gary Hammond. 'We specced the system ourselves and initially we thought we would do the install.' But the job became bigger than they anticipated; the project lagged behind and Clarity were recommended to install and commission the system by Martin Audio in time for a conference early into the new year.
SOAS has adopted a purpose-designed white Wavefront Theatre rig, run biamped to create high SPL and even dispersion. The set-up comprises a single yoked WT3 firing out from each PA wing on Powerdrive brackets, with a pair of arrayed, trapezoidal WT2's forming the centre cluster, each with the capability of providing 70º coverage.
Ultra-compact W1's are used for delay, set midway back down either side of the auditorium (the delay taps programmed into the QSCBasis 722az processor).
'This is the first time we have had delay speakers and you really notice the difference,' says Gary.
No compromise has been made in the fact that there was nowhere to site any subwoofers - as they simply aren't needed. 'For speech intelligibility the new set-up is fantastic,' continues the SOAS technician, 'and since most of the world music is acoustic it gives a transparent delivery. We have had nothing but good comments.' In any event both the WT3 and WT2 are genuinely full range, the former housing a powerful 15in LF driver and the latter a 12in.
The Brunei Lecture Theatre, which had been redesigned last year, with the cabling laid in preparation for the technical infrastructure, now has added flexibility. Three floor boxes have been inserted, each with the capability of taking five mics, enabling the lectern to be moved to any position on the stage.
Additionally, there is an output for cameras, and further live lines out for recording purposes (and other OB facilities).
Also installed by Clarity were a Yamaha LS9 32-channel mixing desk, Shure wireless microphones (and mic mixing), QSC amplification and DSP, and a Drawmer distribution amp (for the camera outputs).
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