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d&b xS loudspeaker series raises the bar for Southampton Uni SU

The University of Southampton recently revamped its Students' Union Building (the Bridge) - a project which involved installation of a new d&b loudspeaker series centred on the xS series.

The University of Southampton Students’ Union building, the Bridge, which is familiarly know as SUSU, has installed a d&b audiotechnik xS series loudspeaker system. With 22,000 students enrolled at the University of Southampton, the union needed a versatile new loudspeaker system to suit a relaxed bistro dining experience during the day and, in the evenings, a venue which plays host to a varied line up of events and performances such as gigs and acoustics arts. Ed Blackwell, assistant technical coordinator at the univeristy, teamed up with Middlesex-based d&b audio distributor Entec to select and install the new system. The room features several acoustic challenges: “The venue has three walls of glass and a sprung, wooden floor along with hard and reflective furnishings which made any form of sound reinforcement challenging due to reflections and multiple standing waves,” commented Blackwell. “So we softened the response by moving to large, soft furnishings and installing carpet. The addition of wooden slatted blinds to the windows and added breakup blinds to create booths around the venue also helped.” Blackwell originally had reservations about the 5S loudspeakers being an appropriate choice and was unfamiliar with the xS-Series generally, so the team went down to d&b’s UK headquarters in Nailsworth. “I was originally concerned about the performance of the 5Ss, however I was astounded by the quality and range of performance they gave and amazed by the dispersion. We then went on to selecting the larger boxes which would be used for evening events and band reinforcement. I had in mind the 10Ss however having heard the 12Ss I knew that that was the box for us, the dispersion and response from the unit was exactly what I was after. The real struggle came with what subs to go for. My original plan went for the smaller 12S-SUBs, however after a good hour of listening to various combinations I eventually went for the larger 18S-SUBs.” The Bridge reopened in October 2012 after the refurbishment project. It now seats 250 people for food during the day and 200+ during evening events. Just as one would expect in a lively and vibrant students’ union, performances are very diverse, from student societies and comedy nights that demand a clear vocal performance to live music and club nights featuring big names like The Ministry of Sound.

“During the day we need a very controlled and high fidelity system for background music to provide atmosphere,” remarked Blackwell. “When evening comes the system needs to cater for regular spoken voice events where dispersion and fidelity is key, but equally needs to provide a front of house PA for when live music is on the agenda.”