Electro-Voice sound system for one of London’s great town halls
Instantly recognizable to Londoners, Islington Town Hall is a famous icon of local government in the city. To celebrate its 80th anniversary, Islington Council has transformed its disused assembly room with a top-to-toe refurbishment -- including the installation of an Electro-Voice XLE line array loudspeaker system.
Islington Town Hall’s largest function room has languished as a furniture store since the 1980s. Some forward thinking at the Council, matched with the building’s impending 80th anniversary, led to an extensive restoration program and the creation of a new community resource.
The 400-capacity theatre-style assembly hall has a proscenium arch stage and a capacious balcony, lending the venue to any number of different uses, from council meetings and dinner dances to stage shows and concerts. Indeed, part of the fiscal logic for the refurbishment was that large council meetings would no longer have to hire external facilities.
Integrator Tyco designed and installed an all-encompassing audio and video system for the space, including a wireless Bosch conferencing system, integrated and controlled by a single touch panel controller, a Cat5e network and induction loop, and a full Electro-Voice XLE line-array with NetMax processing and CPS series amplifiers.
Amazingly, this installation has no audio mixing desks as such, and not a single experienced audio technician. “It’s the largest AV set-up in the Town Hall, but it’s also the easiest,” explains facilities manager Gareth Jenkins. “The presets on the touch panel unit have allowed the system to be simplified; one presses a button for ‘wedding’ or ‘conference,’ and the lights and audio come on at pre-set levels. Should we need it, we can plug a mixing console into the stage box in the hall.”
The line array system has to cope with two challenges. Firstly, thanks to its sprung ballroom dance floor, the assembly hall has a highly reverberant acoustic profile. Secondly, the historic building is listed, so its interior décor cannot be altered. Cleverly, the Tyco engineers have hidden stage boxes and cables behind real and fake wood paneling. “We didn’t want clients bringing in their own PA set-ups,” says Jenkins, “so we had to choose a system that would meet everybody’s requirements now and in the foreseeable future.”
Using Electro-Voice LAPS (Line Array Prediction) software, Shuttlesound installation consultant John Ellis calculated the number and placement of loudspeaker modules, selecting left and right arrays of six super-compact XLE181 cabinets either side of the stage. “This enabled the sound to reach all the way to the back of the balcony as well as under the balcony, so there was no need for in-fills or delays. The result is great clarity even at really low volumes, and now the hall is suitable to be rented out for band and orchestra concerts.”
Gareth Jenkins reports very positive feedback from Islington’s councilors, who feel this is money well spent, and that plans are already underway to hire the hall out commercially, which will produce an attractive return on the Borough’s investment.
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